My (Southern) Health Cheats

**DISCLAIMER: The truth is, there aren’t really health and fitness cheats. When you cut corners, you have to expect lesser results, even if just by a tad.**Below are some of my “health cheats” for things I’ve had a hard time giving up.

Sicky-Sweet Sweet Tea = Mio Sweet Tea

By far one of the hardest things for me to give up has been sweet tea. Soda was cake. Sweet tea, I’ve gone down kicking and screaming. I tried green tea with stevia. Not bad, but not even close. You won’t believe my cheat. You read Mio and though “Sweet tea in a little squirt bottle? Ain’t no way.” However, it is the best tasting and most realisticly sweet tea-ish water enhancer I’ve had. It tastes better than instant tea (like the Lipton fountain machine stuff), but of course still lacks the herbal taste that comes with real brewed tea. I’ve considered making green tea and putting some of this in it.

Mayo or Sour Cream = Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Okay, this one doesn’t taste the same, but for the calorie and fat savings, it’s darn close enough! Potato salad, chicken, tacos, creamed spinach, and much more. I replace it all with plain Greek yogurt. If you just can’t do that, try doing 3/4 greek yogurt and 1/4 mayo or sour cream. Any bit counts!

Sugar = Stevia

Stevia is by far the best non-sugar sweetener, at least that’s user-friendly. I even found it in a squeezy bottle (a la Mio) that I take on the go!

Potato Chips and Fries = Sweet Potato Chips and Fries

Even better if you make them yourself. Now don’t get too excited. Sweet potatoes are still starchy veggies loaded with carbs. And anything fried is still a cheat. However, when you look at sweet potatoes and white potatoes side by side, the difference is clear. This awesome infographic from Cleveland Clinic shows you what makes this swap worth it:

Health Hub Knockout White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes final

Spaghetti = Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is obviously nothing like spaghetti noodles. It won’t taste the same, nor does it have the same texture. However, if you really want to avoid starchy, non-nutritional noodles, try spaghetti squash. This blog article explains how to bake it and extract the “noodles”. You can make it like regular spaghetti with sauce, or you can try other variations, like this garlic and butter version.

Butter = Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

I’ll admit. I rarely replace a recipe that calls for butter fully with EVOO or coconut oil. However, I usually mix the two to cut back on calories. For example, if I saute zucchini, I use olive oil and about a tablespoon of Country Crock Light. Olive oil has a more “buttery” taste that is great with veggies or savory dishes. Coconut oil is good for sweeter veggies or meat preparations. For example, I love to cook Jamaican Jerk chicken or pork chops in coconut oil. Some people claim that you can’t taste the coconut, but I can, so that’s why I only use it for certain recipes with which it meshes well. I get my oils from Trader Joe’s. Best bang for your buck!

Ground Beef = Ground Turkey

These taste similar–not the same. I’ve found that I like to use ground turkey with ground beef recipes that require lots of flavoring. I most frequently use it for tacos and spaghetti. The tons of sauces and seasonings mask the fact that it’s turkey and not beef. Turkey burgers on the other hand, while possibly tasty, just don’t do it for me. Turkey meatballs–not bad. Play around with it and see what you like and don’t like! The other plus: ground turkey is cheaper! Here’s an article by Livestrong that compares the two.

Store-bought = Homemade

I’ve found that one of the best ways to save money and calories is to make things you would usually buy. Many of these recipes still require some buttah and sugah, but what they don’t require are chemicals, additives, or preservatives! Below, click each item to find an easy recipe on how to home-make it!

Ranch Dressing/Dip (Not an exact copy cat, but does the job)

Gummy Snacks (This site has different flavor combos!)


Sloppy Joe (Note: Ground turkey is not meant for this stuff! It’s pretty awful. I tried)

Strawberry Jam in Crockpot (Wonder if purple grapes would work…)

Apple Butter in Crockpot

No Bake Granola Bars

Peanut Butter



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