Alternative Options: Tricking Yourself Into Eating Better

A certain someone I have been spending a lot of time with always complains that the food I make “tastes too healthy” when I swap out processed foods for healthy alternatives. Now granted, this is coming from a guy who’s diet is comparable to that of a first grader, but what some fail to realize is that many great health benefits can be achieved by simply swapping out bad stuff for better stuff. Sure, it isn’t an overnight thing… but once you slowly start finding good alternative ingredients, you can trick yourself into eating much healthier choices.

For example: Switching from white to whole grain bread can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 20%. Using Yogurt instead of mayo or ranch for dips gives you lots of calcium and probiotics instead of extra FAT. Adding quinoa to your diet will give you super boosts of protein, iron, folate and fiber. The list goes on and on, you just have to do a little searching.

My mom had raised us on fruit roll up’s, goldfish, popsicles and sugary cereals, so I had some serious habits to break through. But I started at an early enough age (college in Boulder, Colorado will do that to a girl) and realized that I needed to make some lifestyle changes in order to transition into adulthood happily and healthily. I took baby steps… first replacing ranch with hummus, white bread with whole grain, soda with Perrier. Then, when I moved in with my fabulous Gluten-Free roomie, I began trying out all sorts of alternatives. Brown rice & quinoa, yogurt based dips, smoothies for dessert. You get the idea…

But during the initial part of my roomie’s transition, while she was trying different types of alternatives to gluten products, it was becoming clear that nothing tasted as good as gluten products. For example, all the alternatives to regular pasta – rice, quinoa or corn pasta – tasted like cardboard, so she discovered the amazing spaghetti squash, and life has never been the same. The day I tried one of her batches of spaghetti squash “pasta”, I was forever changed. Since my first encounter with this incredible gord, I have perfected what has become my version of the popular comfort food Spaghetti & Meat Sauce. Perhaps this will be the meal I can trick the certain someone into eating healthy… what other recipes do you use to “trick” yourself or others into eating healthy?

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” w/ Turkey Meat Sauce

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash

1 package of lean ground turkey meat (or if you are a vegetarian, whatever alternative you use for meat sauce)

1 large can of peeled tomatoes

1 cup marinara (any kind will do)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Dried oregano, basil, rosemary and crush red pepper flakes

Salt & Pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

First, what to do with your giant yellow squash. Cut it in half, lengthwise. Lay flat side down (side by side) in a glass 9 x 11 Pyrex dish, and fill with 1/2″ water. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, turn, and microwave for another 5 minutes.

At the same time, start cooking your turkey meat on low-medium heat until lightly browned. While cooking, add dried herbs, salt and pepper to season. Once meat is cooked, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and about 2/3 of your canned peeled tomatoes to the pan (save the rest for later if you want to add more). Once the sauce starts simmering, add your cup of marinara, and a few more teaspoons of the herbs and spices to give it an extra kick of flavor. Let simmer until ready to eat.

Once squash is done, let it cool for a second before handling (SUPER hot). Once cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds and brighter yellow pulp and throw in the trash. Take a fork and spoon (I like having both to tackle the tough curved spots), and shred away the strings of spaghetti squash into a large bowl. I like to microwave the shredded squash for another minute or so just to get it soft. Once done, add the sauce to the bowl, sprinkle with parmesan, and enjoy!

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