10 Ways to Go Halfsies to Double Your Nutrition!
Through many years of work as a nutrition professional, I’ve learned that not everyone is quick to adopt all of the recommendations for healthy eating. I’ve also learned that that’s fine, because we’re all allowed to have our own personal taste preferences. Our own history with eating, the way we were raised, and our cultural norms influence our palate, and that can still be honored. I work to find ways to meet people in the middle instead of trying to force changes that neither work nor are fun! Eating shouldn’t have to be a chore but rather an experiment.
So, to do this, I often recommend ways to go halfsies with the recommendations. This will help transition toward healthier eating, keeping some of the flavor of your favorite foods while also doubling the nutrition factor. In time, you may decide to go all the way, but even if you don’t, you’re still making a more nutritious choice! Read on for 10 ways you can go halfies to up your nutrition game:
- Include half whole grains. If you’re not the biggest fan of whole wheat pasta or brown rice, go halfsies! Boil half white and half whole wheat pasta or mix half brown rice with half white rice. Especially if you’re using pasta sauce or making a mixed meal (i.e. casserole), you probably won’t even tell, but it can make a big difference in taste!
- Replace half the sugar. The newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans (here) recommend limiting added sugar intake, which probably won’t come as a surprise to you. However, how about limiting to a total of 6-9 tsp of added sugar per day, when most Americans consume an average of 20 per day (source)!!! In many recipes, you can try subbing ripened fruit for half the sugar. Try half well-ripened, mashed bananas in baked goods like cakes, muffins, or pancakes. I did it for this delicious carrot cake, which was plenty sweet and even more moist with the fruit addition!
- Replace half the eggs with flaxseed. Not that eggs are bad. In fact, they’re a unique source of nutrients like choline, vitamin D, selenium, and leucine. However, cutting back can reduce calories and fat, and replacing with flaxseed can increase heart-healthy omega-3’s! I did this for the carrot cake that I described in #2, and again, you couldn’t tell! Simply mix 1 Tbsp of flaxseed meal (or ground flaxseed) with 3 Tbsp of water and let sit for 5 minutes before stirring into your recipe.
- Make your drink twice as nice. Here in the South, we’re in the land of sweet tea, and a common recipe is 2 cups of sugar added to one gallon of tea. Consuming several glasses of tea on the daily can really add up calories and sugar intake from something providing no nutrition benefits. That being said, I don’t support a restrictive dieting approach, but instead I encourage trying to reduce intake to improve nutrition, hydration, and increase a savoring experience. Some ways to do this are to reduce the sugar in the tea recipe, reduce the serving size of the cup, or cut your intake in half altogether.
- Opt for half-caff. Another beverage trick is to reduce the caffeine by half. Now, I’m a caffeine lover myself, and I know better than to tell someone to cut that morning cup of Joe. However, I am somewhat caffeine-sensitive, and I feel better without those early-morning jitters. Also, caffeine can complicate hydration, so if you’re not consuming enough water, getting more caffeine-free beverages will help.
- Go halfsies with coffee creamer. I love my coffee, and I’m likely to consume more than one cup per day. So, while I also enjoy this creamer, I stay mindful of how much sugar I’m adding through multiple cups. Personally, I’ve found a happy medium with adding milk or half & half to cream the coffee, then topping it off with a splash of flavored creamer. So it’s like triple halfsies. Or, with my half-caff coffee, like quadruple halfsies. But still with half the goods. I’ll let you do the math.
- Replace half the oil. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but you can easily replace half applesauce for half the oil in many recipes. I also used this trick for the carrot cake recipe, and it was not missed! Plus, the applesauce can add moisture, which I think really added to the great texture of the cake.
- Mix two kinds of yogurt. Every Sunday, I make 5 jars of plain Greek yogurt mixed with vanilla Greek yogurt (and cinnamon). This way, I get the taste of the sweeter flavor, but with only half the added sugar. Making my own yogurt cups from the larger containers also is a great way to save money!
- Make half your plate vegetables. When I get asked for a “meal plan”, I usually start with the proportion of fruits and veggies on our plates, since American’s as a whole aren’t eating enough. When half the plate is vegetables, then that automatically controls portions of the other stuff! This aligns with our national recommendations for eating as well.
- Make half-percent milk. Not a big fan of 2% milk? Make 2.5%! Struggling with lowering from 2% to 1% milk? 1.5% milk to the rescue! Wait…you haven’t seen these options at the grocery store? No worries! Grab a half gallon of whole milk and a half gallon of 2%, mix together, and you have 2.5% (or 1.5%, 0.5%). Doing this can help you transition to a lower fat milk by helping your tastebuds slowly adjust.
So, which tip do you plan to try first?! I would love to hear! Or comment below to let me know if you have any other ideas for going halfsies with food!