Easy food swaps to make your favorite recipes ‘skinnier’

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If your “bikini body” didn’t quite make it through the summer, you’re not alone. While you probably know the holidays are a big time for weight gain, the truth is, so is summer.

Between backyard BBQs, festivals and carnivals, vacations, alcoholic beverages and, of course, so much ice cream, it’s hard not to gain a few pounds. It doesn’t help that pumpkin spice everything shows up just as the season changes and then, before you know it, there’s Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Luckily, despite all the treats we know are headed our way before the New Year, simple ingredient swaps can make even our favorite, most indulgent dishes just a bit healthier.


Someone who knows a thing or two about lightening up dishes is Gina Homolka, Skinnytake cookbook author and recipe developer for Skinnytaste.com. It is her passion to create healthy dishes that don’t sacrifice the flavors found in the original recipes because, “after all, this is the same food I cook on a daily basis for friends and family, and they are some of my toughest critics,” she says.

Homolka, who currently lives in Oceanside, New York, with her husband and two daughters, shared some of her favorite swaps with Simplemost, along with some other tips, like how to eat healthy while traveling, whether she lightens up her all-time favorite food and if she ever splurges.


Swap In Cauliflower For The Usual Carbs

If you’re into food trends, you’ve likely heard all about how “cauliflower is the new kale.” From rice to pizza crust and even tacos, cauliflower can be used as a substitute for multiple foods. Homolka says her favorite swaps include this trick. For example, she swaps out potatoes for cauliflower when she makes this creamy cauliflower puree.

Zucchini is next, which Homolka says she uses in place of pasta for dishes like zucchini rollatini. Sometimes, she even just turns it into noodles.


Make Your Fried Chicken Skinless

When it comes to her favorite food, however, Homolka says that if she’s traveling and knows a restaurant is well known for their fried chicken, “you better believe I will try it!” At home, however, she makes the dish lighter by first removing the skin, then adding a homemade crisp coating and baking or air frying it. Homolka says she actually gets a lot of inspiration from food when she travels, so she makes sure to enjoy her meals while on vacation.

“I allow myself one not-so-healthy dish a day, or share with my husband and friends if it’s a dessert,” she says. “I also really try to get lots of exercise to balance it all out.”


Think Of The Rainbow

As any working mother knows, it can be pretty tough to cook healthy meals for your family that they actually want to eat. While Homolka agrees it’s a challenge, she usually lets her children give her ideas for what they want for lunch and dinner.

With back-to-school season in full swing, she also partnered with ALDI to create healthy bento box lunches for her daughter, Madison. With fruits, vegetables and protein like lunch meat or hard-boiled eggs, Homolka says to “think of the rainbow” when preparing the lunch.


Practice Balance During The Holidays

Back to that whole “the holidays will be here soon” stress. Homolka says that to stay healthy during the holidays, the key is simply “balance” and bringing your own healthy food to parties.

“If I eat a big meal on a holiday I don’t stress too much, because I will eat a lighter meal for breakfast and lunch that day,” she said. “When I’m going to a dinner party, I usually bring a healthy appetizer or side dish.”


Just in time for the holidays, Homolka’s new book, “Skinnytaste One and Done,” is out Oct. 9, but it’s available for pre-order now. If you’re not sure you can lighten up your favorite food without still craving the unhealthier version, Homolka suggests picking some of your favorite foods, then searching her website to find a lighter alternative. The recipes online are free, so it’s worth a shot!

“I think when people hear a recipe is healthy, they think it doesn’t taste good but often they are surprised,” she says. “Some even say it tastes better than an unhealthy version!”


Have you ever tried a food swap in a favorite recipe?