A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean giving up Italian foods, Mexican foods, Greek foods, comfort foods - it simply means occasionally swapping out the high calorie / high fat foods for some high protein / nutrient dense ones!!
According to Kelly Abrams, RD, comfort foods - when eaten in moderation - can make you feel better in the moment, whether they are associated with a nostalgic memory of previous happier times, or through the temporary release of feel-good hormones. Food can provide temporary comfort, stress-relief and a sense of normalcy when things feel out of control. Denying yourself comfort foods likely leads to further cravings and more stress. However, emotional eating can also be associated with eating in the absence of physical hunger as a way to ameliorate negative self-focused emotions. She adds “I prefer people start trusting their bodies to tell them what they need in the moment,” a process known as intuitive eating.” Intuitive eating allows us to consume foods WHEN we can sense that our body needs it - instead of relying on the pressures of either society or the uber-influential-fitness-culture that tells you to eat 85 different ways: 6 small meals a day every 2 hours, 1 large breakfast then intermittent fast then 1 large dinner, juice cleanse three days a week - you get the gist.)
When we start to wean our bodies off of these simple-carb, high fat, “unhealthy” foods, and instead start to integrate more colors via vegetables and fibers via protein-dense toppings, our body will slowly begin to crave more of what we nurture it with. Though it definitely takes time and adjusting some set-lifestyle tendencies, you will notice that your body will start to want more veggies, more complex carbs (like whole grains, sweet potatoes, fruits), and less temporarily satisfying / nutrient-devoid foods (like white breads, soda, etc.).
 GREEK YOGURT = Sour Cream, Dressings, etc.
I can confidently say, Greek yogurt has become the MVP of my kitchen. I drop dollops on anything & everything - from tacos as a sour cream swap, to ice cream when I’m craving something sweet. It’s also a great swap for any dressings, as it mixes well with lemon/lime juice, salt, pepper, hot sauce, garlic, etc. - and it’s an added bonus that each tablespoon has 2g protein, and only 6 calories!
One of my favorite sauces to make with this is Tzatziki. For a party-size dip, you’ll need 1 cup 0% Fage Greek yogurt, ½ cup diced cucumber, 1-1.5 tbs dill, dash of olive oil (or spray!), 1 tbs lemon juice, 1-2 garlic cloves (diced), ½ tsp pink salt. Mix all that together and - *chefs kiss* - you have yourself the cleanest, most delicious dip ever! EPIC.
 JICAMA WRAPS = Tortillas
Anyone that follows me on Instagram (@ktleo) knows that I pretty much have three jicama wrapped tacos everyday without fail for lunch. We can either go Mexican-food-themed with some taco seasoning ground turkey, lettuce, guac and salsa - OR turn it Greek by laying these down as your base with sautéed chickpeas, cucumber, diced sweet potato, homemade tzatziki and some peperoncinos!
No matter how you spin it, TJ’s crushed it (yet again!!) with these Jicama Wraps.
 ICEBERG LETTUCE = Bread / Hamburger Buns
The OG “bun swap” is still making my list because...well...it’s the bees knees. SO easy to integrate into any meal - whether it’s encasing a tasty veggie burger, wrapping ground turkey lettuce wraps, or folded around your falafel + chicken kabob, iceberg lettuce is an incredibly cheap / crunchy / tasty alternative to any bun or bread! Not to mention a sneaky way to integrate more colorful veggies into your dish.
 BOX BROWNIES / CAKE = Protein Chocolate Mug Cake
Here's what you’ll need: 1 scoop protein powder (50% off Gainful code: here), 2 tbs cocoa powder, 2 tbs pbFit powder, 1/2 tsp baking powder, handful sugar-free chocolate chips, 1/4 cup almond milk, and few diced apples and/or sliced bananas on top. To make, mix everything together + microwave for 15-20 seconds. Ooey gooey mug cake for one...35g of protein, a nice book, candle light, and a fuzzy blanket - sounds like my kind of evening!
 VEGGIE SPIRALS (butternut squash / zucchini) = traditional simple-carb pasta
It’s really just a bonus that Butternut Squash Spirals and Zoodles add beautiful greens and oranges to your dish. On top of THAT, they’re the perfect base to any marinara or pesto sauce! Try these beneath turkey or veggie meatballs, mushrooms, and asparagus - I pinky promise you you will not be disappointed.
 PBFIT / PB2 POWDER = traditional nut butter
PBFIT: 50 calories vs. Jif Creamy Peanut Butter: 190 calories
For a quarter for the calories, double the protein, and equal to the taste, PBFIT (or PB2) is the ultimate go to traditional nut butter swap. Sliced apples? Check. Rice cake with banana? Check. Drizzled over fruit parfait? Check. Added pizzazz in smoothies? Check.
While traditional nut butters are obviously not at all bad for you, it’s key to use ‘em sparingly, due to the high fat content.
 SLICED CRUNCHY VEGGIE = chips / crackers
I'm defining “sliced crunchy veggie” as a cucumber, bell pepper, broiled sweet potato slices, or carrots...but feel free to get creative! Not only does swapping chips / crackers for veggies add more nutrients, but it also adds to the flavor of your dip!
Try this swap with hummus, guacamole, charcuterie boards, etc - the list really goes on!
 ROLLED OATS & GREEK YOGURT = traditional pizza crust
I'm telling you...my Italian / pizza loving boyfriend said this was one of the top 3 best crusts he’s ever had!! Not only is it incredibly easy, but it’s loaded with protein - and a ton of room for creativity! Here’s what you’ll need: 1.5 cups oat flour (i.e.: 1.75 cups of rolled oats, ground in a food processor), 1 cup 0% Fage greek yogurt, 3 tsp baking powder. These are optional, but recommended for taste: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, dashes of Italian seasonings (oregano, garlic powder, etc.).
At only 12g fat and <0g sugar for the entire pizza, the full dough recipe has a wapping 56g of protein! Three words: WHAT THE FUQ.
Full recipe here: https://www.ktleo.com/blog/3-ingredient-gf-pizza-crust
 LILY’S SWEETS = traditional non-tasty / high-sugar chocolate bars
I tend to sprinkle these into any meal wherever possible! Whether it’s in the chocolate mug cake, or sprinkled over my freshly-popped popcorn, these sugar-free chocolate chips are a low-calorie + low-sugar alternative to traditional chocolate bars or Nestle-brand chocolate chips.
60 chocolate chips is only 55 calories, 4g of fat, and 0g sugar...what more could you ask for?!
 AVOCADO OIL SPRAY = traditional olive oil
Avocado Oil Spray: 0-5 calories...meanwhile, 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil: 120.
IT’S A NO BRAINER. The spray saves you 120 calories - and is 679 times easier to use than traditional butter or olive oil.