Hungry Girl: Spring Clean Your Diet with These Healthy Food Swaps


Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of eleven books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.

The temps are warming up, and we’re more than ready to come out of winter mode. It’s the perfect time to freshen up your eating habits. I’ve got a handful of super simple swaps to upgrade nutrition and downgrade calorie counts.

Ditch: Carby pasta

Swap: Spiralized veggie noodles

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about spiralized veggies. This is one of the hottest trends in food right now, and it couldn’t be easier. If you’re skittish about shelling out cash for a tabletop hand-cranked spiralizer, just get yourself the cheaper handheld kind. It’ll work great with my favorite veggie to spiralize — zucchini! Click for a bunch of recipe ideas. Some grocers even have spiralized veggies ready to go in the produce section!

Ditch: Fatty ground meat

Swap: Extra-lean ground beef

Pay attention to the numbers when you’re selecting your ground meat. If you think there aren’t major differences among the fat-to-lean percentages, you’re wrong. For example, a 4-oz. serving of 96 percent lean ground beef (a.k.a. extra-lean) has about 145 calories and 5g fat. The same amount of 80 percent lean beef has around 290 calories and 22g fat. Don’t be fooled by the word “lean” on the package — it’s still 20 percent fat!

WATCH THIS: 5 Fat-Burning Comfort Foods

Ditch: Sugary coffee drinks

Swap: At-home java creations

If you’re slugging back sweetened lattes on the regular, you can save yourself a bunch of calories (and cash!) by making lighter coffee drinks at home. The essentials are a great light milk option (unsweetened vanilla almond milk is my pick) and your no-calorie sweetener of choice (there are lots of natural versions nowadays; I’m a Truvia gal). And if you want to make over the fancier drinks, I’ve got tons of recipes.

Ditch: Greasy potato chips

Swap: Crispy baked kale chips

That’s right, the DIY train is back in the station! “But HG, I can buy kale chips at the store!” Yes, you can, but have you looked at the nutrition stats on the back? Far too often, those kale chips are cooked in so much oil that you might as well be eating regular potato chips! Good thing baked kale chips are insanely easy to make. Totally worth it.

‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!

Related Articles