7 Essential Foods to Make Any Recipe Diet-Friendly

Now you can eat your cake and still stay in shape with 7 essential foods to make any recipe diet-friendly.

Now you can eat your cake and still stay in shape with 7 essential foods to make any recipe diet-friendly. Stevia, a popular all-natural sweetener replaces sugar, while chia cocoa and fatty fish are just some superfoods that send a big hug to the heart. So lick your spoon clean, because you know you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Stevia: Top choice for a natural sugar substitute
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You get a big helping hand from just a little pinch of stevia.

That’s because it tastes about 200 times sweeter than table sugar – so a little goes a long way.

Good thing that it’s a naturally-occurring sweetener from the stevia leaf, so it typically doesn’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes. That means it’s extremely safe for diabetics.

But be sure to read the ingredients label first.

That’s because some sweeteners, especially those that come in powdered form, use carb-heavy fillers that increase blood sugar levels. We’re talking about the most common ones like dextrose and maltodextrin.

All the good news has a drawback though.

Some say that stevia can leave a bitter aftertaste. In fact, that’s a trademark of the plant itself, which tastes for the most part sweet, with a little bitter kick. 

Tip: If you’re not a fan of that, you can reduce it by mixing it with a pinch of other sweeteners, something which regular consumers of stevia always do.

Try our easy-chocolate chia pudding recipe here.

2. Chia: Add this for diet-friendly fibre

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Now let’s talk about chia seeds.

At first glance, chia seeds may look like they aren’t entirely diet-friendly because they contain 12 grams of carbohydrates per ounce.

But go closer and you’ll find that 11 grams of the 12 are actually fibre.

Nutritionists say that this makes it one of the best diet-friendly sources of fibre in the world.

And it doesn’t matter if you take it white or black, because both are equal in their nutrient-giving benefits.

You may not know this, but they grow naturally in a mix of both colours, but when harvested are isolated purely for vanity. Oh my.

Tip: Besides sprinkling them in almost anything, you can add them in water where it swells to become a little water goblet, and is quite lovely to drink. It’s exactly why nutritionists believe regular consumption can aid weight loss. That’s because chia absorbs large amounts of water and expands in your stomach. That means you feel fuller and eat less. About 1.5 tablespoons a day is just enough.

Brilliant isn’t it?

Throw some into a deliciously lite stir-fry chicken cabbage salad

3. Cocoa:Powerful free-radical fighting natural wonder

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Cocoa too, is another superfood.

You get it by crushing cocoa beans – where chocolate is made from, then removing the fat.

It’s a popular choice used to replace unsweetened melted chocolate – something you often see in many recipes that use chocolate.

That’s because cocoa contains a powerful antioxidant called polyphenols, which acts as a great cheerleader for your heart.

Medical experts say it’s been linked to many heart-boosting benefits including lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels.

But like stevia, it too can give a bitter taste in what’s since become the selling-point for dark chocolate.

Tip: Cocoa powder has great shelf-life- it stores for up to a year under normal conditions. Add it to your shakes and desserts for an earthy chocolately taste.

Try our easy-chocolate chia pudding recipe here.

4. Coconut milk: “Good fat” to have more of

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It’s thought that unlike other fats, the fats in coconut milk are very quickly metabolised into energy, so are less likely to be stored in the body as fat.

Reason being, the fat in coconut milk is mostly in the form of medium-chain saturated fatty acids, or MCFA - that's something the body loves to process fast. 

You can expect great protective benefits too, including potent antiviral and antifungal shields that can prevent and destroy germ-carrying organisms.

Tip: Just remember that fresh coconut milk (the best kind to get) turns bad quickly, so it should be used within the day of pressing. If in cans, refrigerate and use within days of opening.

Add a dash of it to a warm bowl of spicy butter chicken here.

5. Walnuts: Snack on this to keep weight off
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Snacking on this is not likely to cause weight gain, so it’s a hot pick if you want to keep weight off.

Ranked among the top 5 healthiest nuts, walnuts contain good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).

But not just that, they’re a valuable source of essential fatty acid omega-3. 

You’ll find your mind ticking better after a daily dose of them too, studies show walnuts are big contributors to memory function.

Tip: Storing walnuts in an air-tight container will keep it fresh for several months.

Use walnuts in this recipe here.

6. Crumbed cauliflower: Crush your veggies for better fat-burning power

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Cauliflower is one of the best vegetables for a low-carb diet.

But nutritionists say what’s even better is if you crumb it up.

That’s because doing so releases a powerful fat-burning compound called sulforaphane.

It’s the same one that is released when we chew cruciferous vegetables.

Studies on mice found that this magical compound helped improve gut health and increase the amount of energy-burning fat.

Both effects lowered obesity levels and improved general health.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Once digested, it activates a cell-protecting shield that reduces the damage they receive by cancelling out toxins. 

Tip: Chop up its stem and leaves for a tasty stock.

Crumb up some cauliflower in this recipe, and add a couple of florets to a tasty shitake mushroom chicken stew

7. Fatty fish: Top choice for a delicious meal

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One of the best fish on the market is the mackerel.

Not just does it have a low number of calories, it’s a super tasty fatty fish that hardly needs any seasoning.

Nutritionists say that it's one of the best sources of protein, healthy fats, and holds the entire range of nutrients, especially magnesium and iron.

Research have found that the super fish has a compound that reduces the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. Don't go overboard though, it's good enough to eat two portions of fish a week.  

Try our superbly creamy mackerel recipe here.

The bottom line  

Shaping up begins with simple swaps - toss out sugar for a natural sweetener like stevia, add chia to (almost!) everything. Remember also cocoa powder in place of sweetened chocolate, and fatty fish for a good dose of healthy fats. Use these simple swaps so you can be healthy, full and in shape.

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