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Video: Make these food swaps for a healthier lifestyle

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    >>> okay, if you're like a lot of folks you're trying to cut down on the fat and calories. food swapping could be just the thing you're looking for.

    >> registered dietitian has prepared four easy food swaps for us to taste test this morning.

    >> happy holidays.

    >> you're going to fool us. these are swaps i would never think to do but yet are really, really great.

    >> nutrition is not just about counting calories. this is really my favorite topic. swi simple swaps without compromising tastes.

    >> brownies here.

    >> made traditionally with butter and then avocaddo.

    >> dive in.

    >> so it's good fat.

    >> it's high in healthy fats. it also has fiber and heart protective and important for women in their prenatal years. avocado is a high water volume food so it helps browny ies be chewy and soft.

    >> i am thinking these are the avocado ones.

    >> you are correct. these are those. do you think your kids would eat them?

    >> would not be able to tell the difference?

    >> wouldn't know the difference.

    >> now that we had dessert, let's move on to dinner.

    >> flip flopping.

    >> so we have a beef stir fry here. one with traditional vegetable oil and most made with coconut oil . most people think of it as not being healthy because of the saturated fat but the type of fat has been linked to burning fat. it's also more easily digested and used for fuel and it's also actually been linked to increasing your good cholesterol and also has a higher smoking point. so it's a really good oil.

    >> i had it on toast this morning.

    >> this is the coconut oil one.

    >> correct.

    >> and vegetable highly processed and less nutritious.

    >> okay.

    >> huere's one people may not go for.

    >> i can't trick you with this one.

    >> this is your typical tortilla wrap with whole wheat and then the nori.

    >> first of all, 10 calories versus about 150. even the whole wheat wraps have added ingredients. nori, seaweed, loaded with vitamins and minerals. it has calcium and iron.

    >> it tastes fishy.

    >> just a little salty.

    >> it does. exactly.

    >> i like it.

    >> but my husband does not like fishy tasting things. he may not like it.

    >> i just wrap up turkey. you can even sprinkle it on a salad.

    >> it's good.

    >> all right. popcorn covered with parmesan or with yeast?

    >> yes, new transitional yeast. don't afraid. if you're the type of person that likes to sprinkle cheese on everything from vegetables to salads to popcorn it's the way to go. three grams of fiber, six grams of protein and no saturated fat and no sodium. a quarter cup of apartmeparmesan cheese.

    >> that's interesting.

    >> what else can you put nutritional yeast in.

    >> you can put it on salad or vegetables.

    >> i like my yeast in bread.

    >> i like it.

    >> and it's also vegan.

    >> i think it's very good. i'm going back for more.

    >> thank you.

    >> all right. we're back in a moment. this is "today" on nbc.

TODAY recipes
updated 12/2/2013 5:57:56 PM ET 2013-12-02T22:57:56

Recipe: Zesty beef stir fry

Coconut oil and vegetable oil both contain 14g fat per tablespoon, but the types of fat they contain differ. People assume coconut oil is bad because of it's saturated fat content, but the type of saturated fat is medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), more specifically lauric acid, which is easily digested, provides a quick burst of energy, and has antioxidant and antiviral properties. Research has shown that MCTs may raise good cholesterol (HDL), boost metabolism, and help weight loss.

The type of fat in vegetable oil is mostly omega-6, too much has inflammatory effects. Most vegetable oils are in fact soybean oil (Wesson's vegetable oil is labeled 100 percent natural, but is highly processed and not GMO free).

Ingredients
  • For beef:
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable/coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. agave sweetener
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb lean sirloin, sliced in 1/4-in strips
  • For vegetables:
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper , sliced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
Preparation

1. In small bowl, combine all beef ingredients, tossing to coat sirloin. Cover and refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes.

2. In large sauté pan, heat vegetable/coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add broccoli, cauliflower, red and yellow peppers and carrots; sauté 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

3. Return sirloin with marinade to sauté pan and cook until meat is well done, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add vegetables back in and heat through.

4. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Recipe: Turkey wraps with nori sheets

Nori sheets are made of seaweed, which is packed with minerals like calcium, iodine and iron and vitamins like A, B, C, E and K. Essentially the "spinach of the sea," it is also low in calories and even gives a little boost of fiber and protein. And they have a little natural salt flavor too!

Flour, and even whole wheat tortillas, tend to be high in calories, carbohydrates, and added sugars without much nutrient value. One nori sheet contains just 10 calories and no fat with 1 g carbohydrate, while 1 flour tortilla has 146 calories, 3 g fat and 24 g carbohydrates.

Ingredients
  • 1 nori sheet/flour tortilla
  • 2 oz turkey
  • 1/4 cup sprouts
  • 1/8 avocado
Preparation

For healthier wraps with nori sheets:

1. Lay nori sheet flat on surface; layer turkey, avocado, carrots and sprouts. Roll into wrap.

For wraps with flour tortillas:

1. Lay flour tortilla flat on surface; layer turkey, avocado, carrots and sprouts. Roll into wrap.

Recipe: Pumpkin bread

Bananas are naturally sweet and serve as a good, non-processed sugar substitute in baking. Calorie-wise, you save BIG for this swap: 1 cup mashed banana is 73 kcal, which subs for 1 cup sugar at 775 kcal. Bananas are a good source of fiber (providing 2g per cup mashed, while sugar provides none). Fiber lowers blood pressure and helps keep your digestive system in check.

They also contain resistant starch, which has been linked to burning fat. Because they contain more moisture than sugar does, make sure you use less milk or water when baking with bananas.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar/banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil!)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Preparation

1. Beat eggs and mix with sugar/banana, oil, water, and pumpkin

2. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients until just blended

4. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

5. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes .

Recipe: "Cheese" popcorn

Nutritional yeast is great for vegans who want the taste of cheese in their dishes. Nutritional yeast is an excellent plant source of vitamin B12, and also a great source of fiber (3g per 1/4 cup). It saves calories as a replacement for cheese (i.e. 1/4 cup nutritional yeast is 45 kcal while 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese is 110 kcal).

It also provides 6g protein per 1/4 cup (great for vegans), and saves on fat as well (1/4 cup nutritional yeast has 0.5g fat, while 1/4 cup parmesan has 18g fat). That 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese also has 12g saturated fat, 60mg cholesterol, and 1020mg sodium, while nutritional yeast has NO saturated fat, cholesterol, or sodium.

Ingredients
  • 4 cups air popped popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese/nutritional yeast
Preparation

1. Top popcorn with parmesan cheese/nutritional yeast.

2. Toss to mix.

Recipe: Avocado brownies

The substitution of avocado in baked goods helps increase their nutritional value by contributing nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Avocados reduce your intake of unhealthy calories. For example, a 3.5 oz. serving of avocado (about ¾ avocado) contains 14.66 g of fat, while the same size serving of butter contains 81 g of fat.

In addition, over 75 percent of the fat in avocados is unsaturated (heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), making them a great substitute for foods or ingredients high in saturated fat. Avocados also contain a high water content, so they can make baked goods more soft and chewy and less likely to crumble. This is a great substitution for a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Ingredients
  • For butter brownies
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • For avocado brownies
  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Preparation

For butter brownies:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.

2. In bowl, mix melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder.

3. Spread batter in pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through middle.

For avocado brownies:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.

2. In bowl, mix mashed avocado and melted chocolate; mix in sugar, then eggs and vanilla extract.

3. Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt until combined.

4. Spread batter in pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through middle.

Tips

½ cup mashed avocado is equivalent to ¼ of a large avocado.

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