When Healthy Food Tastes Better

There's an interesting discussion on the boards at Chowhound.com, a site that is—as a friend put it—an online home to a lot of "food nerds."

Being a food nerd myself, I check the site out fairly often, and lately I've been tuned into a question that someone asked: Which healthy substitutes actually taste better to you?

For instance, the person who asked the question now prefers soy milk to skim in her coffee. Others commenters love topping their pasta with olive oil rather than butter, or choose mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. And, of course, switching back to real butter, instead of margarine.

It's a great question, especially since some people think that eating healthy is synonymous with deprivation. The topic certainly struck a nerve with the Chowhounders who contributed a lot of opinions. They also launched into long tangents about the pros and cons of baked potato chips, and whether soy milk really is healthier than the real thing, but that's what food nerds do.

A lot of folks echoed my own feelings about making healthy choices: many healthier choices just taste better.

Being a flexitarian, I definitely like fake meat better than the real thing. As a result, my freezer always has a supply of fake ground meat and veggie burgers. I've even replaced the chicken sausages that I once used with fake bratwurst links. (I know, I know, but I never inflict this preference on others.)

Some other favorite substitutions include the following:

  • Using one yolk to every two egg whites for scrambled eggs or omelets. Now, if I eat an omelet at a restaurant, it tastes too rich and looks too yellow.
  • Switching to whole wheat pasta. I wanted the extra fiber, and now white pasta tastes a lot like white bread once you're used whole wheat.
  • Not being a huge fan of dairy (except for cheese, that is) I prefer vanilla soy milk in my cereal. It has just the right amount of sweetness to it for me.

I've tracked that discussion for a few days, and it's allowed me to consider which choices I truly like, and which ones I stick with for my health. Of course, I've also thought about which foods I'd never give up.

Much as I love fake meat, there's just no substitute for bacon.

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