Friday 15 December 2017

Cheat Clean: Five healthy substitutions to enhance your diet

Freya Drohan

Freya Drohan

The idea of breaking your balanced, healthy diet for a ‘cheat meal’ is a bone of contention, here are some ideas that incorporate the best of both worlds.

Spice of Life

If you crave spice and flavour to your meals, beware that store-bought sauces for pasta and stir fry dishes are often laden with sugar and salt.

To enjoy the flavour without loading up on extra calories, stock your pantry with seasonings and herbs such as basil, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and the likes.

Sweet Tooth

In recent years, dieticians and nutritionists have become wiser to the fact that it is sugar, and not always fat, that is the enemy.

If you struggle with a daily urge to reach for the biscuit tin, or always pine for a dessert after meals, don’t despair as there are ‘cleaner’ ways to satisfy your sugar cravings.

The combinations involving fresh fruit, dark chocolate, homemade sorbets, nut butters, smoothies, flavoured almond milk, raw cacao, coconut, Greek yoghurt, etc are endless.

Hint:  Join Pinterest for ideas on how to use everything from chickpeas to zucchini as a healthy substitute in delicious baked goods.

Remember, the more you opt for naturally sweet foods, instead of refined candy and chocolate, the less your body will crave the latter.

Fast Food

Does thoughts of McDonalds, Dominos or KFC plague your dreams?

Think about what it is you really love about your go-to order, and with a little tweaking and experimentation in the kitchen, you can most often replicate a healthier alternative.

A McNugget or Popcorn Chicken fan? Coat chicken fillets in almond or coconut flour, and serve with sweet potatoes.

Or perhaps your heart belongs to a thick crusted cheesy pizza? Do as the paleo-fans do, and create your base using cauliflower.


Sometimes at the end of a busy week, all we want is a movie night with a tasty takeaway.

Save yourself both the saturated fat and the costly bill by sourcing the essential ingredients from the supermarket.

Chicken, beef, prawns, coconut milk, vegetables, spices, brown rice, egg noodles, whole wheat naan bread and you are good to go.



You have probably heard the phrase ‘don’t drink your calories’ and in no instance is this more apparent than with calorie-dense beers, cocktails and mixers.

If you can’t face a Friday or Saturday night without a tipple, the following are the best ways to do so without blowing all your good work during the week:

Vodka and Soda

While there are absolutely no nutritional values to be found in this drink, it is a weight-watchers best friend.

Vodka contains around 95-100 calories per shot, while soda contains none. Spritz things up with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon (not the cordial).

Red Wine

A glass of red wine boasts a ton of antioxidants, iron, potassium and magnesium. (There are approximately 110-130 calories per glass.)


Irish men rejoice! Guinness’ marketing slogan used to be “Guinness is good for you” and it’s not entirely misleading. As Guinness is made from whole grains, it’s full of nutrients and has a high antioxidant count. (Approx 130 calories per pint.)

Bloody Mary

Good news for the morning after the night before. A Bloody Mary, the traditional ‘hair of the dog’ option, is made from vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, celery, salt and pepper.

A Bloody Mary is low in calories, and has a myriad of nutrients including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, B-carotenes, lycopene and potassium.

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