Easy healthy food swaps

If you over-indulged during the festive season, shed any extra kilos gained without a punishing diet.

In Australia, Christmas combined with summer holidays can make it difficult to shed excess weight gained from indulging in too much festive food. Instead of a punishing diet, try these healthy food swaps to help get your body back on track in the new year.

Sweet potatoes

Baked, roasted, mashed or cut into thick chips, sweet potatoes offer all the satisfaction of white potatoes — but are far more nutritious. One medium sweet potato delivers more than a day’s worth of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), plus 57 percent more fibre and 55 percent more vitamin C than a white potato. Rich and moist, they taste great — even without loads of butter or sour cream.

Avocados

The humble avocado has become a bit of a food rock star recently, as hipster cafes smash and mash it, then serve it on toast with poached eggs. Avocados are also a great substitute for mayonnaise or butter. The creamy texture comes from heart-friendly monounsaturated fat. Avocados also contain healthy amounts of fibre, folate, niacin and vitamins B6 and K.

Cos lettuce

While iceberg lettuce is a popular salad choice, the cos lettuce is more nutritious. It has the same crisp texture as iceberg but more than three times the folate, seven times the vitamin A, more potassium, plus vitamins C and K. Like other leafy greens, cos is rich in carotenoids, which studies have shown may inhibit the growth of certain cancers.

Canola oil

While olive oil is the preferred choice for salads and cooking, canola oil is better for you than blended vegetable oils. Canola oil contains more omega-3s than other common cooking oils. Like olive oil, canola is high in cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats. Plus, its neutral flavour and 200-degree smoke point make it suitable for both baking and light frying.

Yoghurt

Nutritionally, whole-milk yoghurt (particularly Greek yoghurt) outshines sour cream. Cup for cup, whole-milk yoghurt has less than half the kilojoules and one-third the total saturated fat of reduced-fat sour cream, yet boasts 16 percent more calcium. Use it for baking, dips and as a garnish instead of sour cream.

Check out this list for more breakfast, lunch, dinner and drink swap ideas.