The Secret to Cooking Healthy Meals Without Anyone Suspecting it

We’ve all heard the many ups and downs, crazed and downright epidemics in the health world over the course of our lives. Whether it’s Atkins, Weight Watchers or the Paleo lifestyle, there are so many different diets (a word I hate to use) or lifestyle choices one can make. With such variety in opinions around different lifestyle choices, it’s easy to get lost in the haze of what’s “right” or “wrong”. There’s also the idea that to eat healthy, you have to eat like a rabbit; solely greens, and not a thing to spruce up their taste.

As you might know, it’s 2016. This is crucial to remember for various reasons, especially in the world of health. Why? Because the stigma around health foods is being socially challenged, and it’s a great thing. There’s those who must follow certain dietary guidelines due to health reasons, and then there’s others who choose a certain lifestyle for whatever reason they desire. It’s now socially acceptable to follow a gluten-free, paleo, or even vegan lifestyle.

Food exists to help you exist, meaning the foods you eat should make you feel good, energized, and revitalized. To some, that’s achieved through a strict vegan lifestyle. To others, it’s just a matter of eating ‘clean’; eating whole foods like fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and good-for-you proteins and fats.

Regardless of your lifestyle and/or preferred eating habits, attempting to cook a healthy meal for those less-inclined to eating a dressing-free salad can be difficult. How can you sneak nutrient-dense food into a dish that’s made for the health nut yet looks like a meat, cheese and pasta-lovers dream? Don’t know the answer? Perfect.

Spices Galore

Anyone in the fitness or dietary world can tell you the easiest way to add depth in flavor to any simple, healthy meal is through spices. Not only are do spices add variety in taste to your meals without the calorie or sodium overload, some also have health benefits of their own.

Spices like ginger are known to help with inflammation, arthritis, and can also aid in fighting infections. Two birds, one stone; just like you like it.

Get Wise and Spiralize

Carbohydrates are the bane of my existence. There’s hardly a scent that beats one of freshly-baked bread when you walk into your home or the grocery store. However, too many carbs can hinder one’s waistline and forfeit all forward progress made in and out of the gym. What’s a pasta lover to do?!

Luckily for you — and the entire planet —there’s a tool that allows you to turn everyday veggies into noodles. Okay, they’re not exactly noodles, but spiralizers allow you to make noodle-like strands, which means you could be serving up a hot bowl of zoodles—zucchini spiralized into ‘noodles’, smothered in your homemade marinara sauce. Add a health-conscious side like a baked sweet potato or sauteed asparagus, add some ghee (clarified butter, meaning all milk proteins have been extracted, and your pasta night just got real good for you.

In the name of faux pasta (or fausta, as I like to call it), there’s always spaghetti squash. It’s all the name of the veggie, people. As we explain in our Sloppy Joe Spaghetti Squash recipe, you simply split these bad boys in half, bake them right up, and shred the interior with a fork to make noodle-like strands. Pasta night never looked so good — or guilt free.

Make Cauliflower Your New Best Friend

I know it sounds crazy, especially to someone who’s trying to pull off a health-minded meal without suspense of such task. Why would you go to the one vegetable that those on the outside of the dietary world seem to not understand? Great question!

Here’s the answer: Cauliflower can be used in a plethora of ways, not just raw or baked with spices (which is so yummy, but baby steps!). You can use cauliflower to add creaminess without the heavy cream to an Alfredo sauce, or even this macaroni and cheese by Grass Fed Girl!

Another beloved item to recreate with cauliflower is mashed potatoes. If you exist at all in the world of Pinterest, you’ve probably seen an excessive amount of cauliflower mashed potato recipes; which are all probably great, too! Realistically, how could anyone turn down a strip steak (…salad, if you want even more veggies) with mashed potatoes? Exactly.

In the end, if you’re trying to make the move to a healthier lifestyle in the kitchen, there’s no right or wrong place to start. It’s a lifestyle change, and these things take awhile. Though it can seem daunting, know that your friends at Wide Open Eats believe in you, and can’t wait to hear what you’ve been cookin’ up and sneakin’ into your meals.

Read More: 10 Versatile Side Dishes You Can Pair with Any Dinner in Your Rotation