Simple Swaps for a Healthier You

Whether you're looking to shed a few pounds, lose a significant amount of weight, or just maintain a healthy weight, there are some changes that have to be made. But those changes don't have to be overwhelming.

Cheryl Forberg, R.D., is the nutritionist for the TV show The Biggest Loser, and co-author of "The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps." Forberg says that "A lot of people are afraid that creating a healthier lifestyle will be too hard or too expensive, or that it will require too much time and effort." But swapping one unhealthy food or habit for a better one is where it can all begin.

Small Steps

"You don't have to change everything at once — it begins with small, manageable steps," says Forberg. You might swap a daily glass of fruit juice for a piece of whole fruit, she adds, or swap sandwich spreads for avocados.

"Avocados have many nutrients," says Forberg. One fifth of an avocado, about three slices (a typical serving), has only 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds to your diet. With their good fats that support health, avocados serve as a great substitute for foods high in saturated fat.

These mouthwatering recipes are a great way to make one simple swap — and get one step closer — to a healthier you.

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5 Top Swaps

Taken from the book, "The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps," these 5 swaps are easy changes that will help you start living a healthier lifestyle.

1. Swap white pasta for spaghetti squash: A cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 40 calories and 2 grams of fiber.

2. Swap sandwich spread for avocado: A few thin slices of avocado add rich flavor and creamy texture along with good fats and fewer calories.

3. Swap traditional fat-free yogurt for fat-free Greek-style yogurt: It has the same number of calories as regular yogurt, but has twice the protein and half the carbs.

4. Swap pizza crust for portobello mushrooms: With a hearty texture and rich flavor, the average portobello (3 ounces) has only 27 calories.

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad

Yield: 8 servings (about 6 cups)

2 cups cooked skinless chicken or turkey cut in 1-inch pieces

(about 12 ounces)

1 cup diced sweet red apple

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1/4 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped mint (about 10 leaves)

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 fully ripened Avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

4 cups mixed baby salad greens

In large bowl, combine chicken, apple, celery, pecans, parsley, onion, mint, jalapeño, salt, lemon juice and olive oil; toss gently.

Add avocado; toss gently until all ingredients are combined, leav­ing some diced avocado visible while mashing some. Serve over mixed greens garnished with more avocado, parsley and grapes, if desired.

5. Swap traditional dressings for flavorful oils: Pre-made dressings have trans fats. Get more flavor and nutrition with a splash of sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil.

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