I’m a picky eater, so I don’t usually venture too far from my tastes. At the same time, I’m not a fan of salt (I just don’t like salty things), so I turn to a lot of food items and snacks that are low sodium or low fat to compliment my tastes. Surprisingly, there are a lot of low sodium and low fat items out there that are pretty good and satisfactory, and from my experience here are the items that you can likely switch out for healthier versions without being grossed out by the taste.
I’ll start with snacks. Baked chips (like baked Doritos or barbecue chips) are delicious in my opinion. They’re crunchier and lighter than their regular versions, and have a great crunch and tasty flavor. I love baked chips hands down over their saltier, greasier counterparts, and the flavor is absolutely there. Try a bag of baked chips instead of their regular version and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Low fat or fat free yogurts are good, too. I find regular versions too sweet, so I enjoy the lighter flavor of the low fat yogurts and fat free yogurts. Even the off brands are tasty.
Same goes for low fat or fat free frozen yogurts. However, I’m not a fan of low fat ice cream. It just tastes too plain and begs for toppings that add the calories.
Low fat or fat free mayo (like the kind made with olive oil or organic) is OK. If you like the Miracle Whip over mayo, then you will like fat free or low fat mayo, because it tastes almost exactly like Miracle Whip to me. I don’t like Miracle Whip, so I don’t really like low fat mayo, but it isn’t bad.
Skim milk, 1%, and 2% milk are great. I love skim milk in cereal. Whole milk is too “milky” for me, so the lower the fat percentage, the more I like it. I like Vanilla Soy milk best in coffee, to drink, and for cereal. Chocolate Soy milk tastes like cookie dough to me and I really like it. Give the lower fat milks and alternatives a try; they’re actually tasty and you can’t really tell the difference between them and classic whole milk. I don’t like Almond milk, though. It takes a bit to get used to, and Almond milk actually made me puke shortly after drinking it.
Low fat cream cheese and low fat string cheese are really good. Slightly more bitter than regular versions, but still very good, and the same taste as the original.
I was raised on Margarine, so any low fat butter or butter alternative all taste the same to me. Butter without salt compliments baked breads better than salted butter, and butter alternatives are great. No lack of flavor to me.
Cooking with olive oil doesn’t change the flavor of any foods in my opinion. For that matter, baking fries and tots and burritos as opposed to frying them (same goes for cheese sticks and jalapeno bites or any fried snack) doesn’t compromise crunch or flavor at all and makes your snack food more healthy.
If you like cottage cheese, you will notice hardly no difference between regular cottage cheese and the low fat or fat free versions. I don’t enjoy cottage cheese in general, but find the low fat versions less imposing on my taste buds and really am starting to come around on this diet favorite.
Canned soups, in my opinion, are ALWAYS more flavorful in the low sodium varieties. Broccoli cheddar or vegetable soups actually hold more true flavor than their saltier, fattier counterparts. They taste more homemade. I never buy regular versions of canned soups.
Low fat and low sodium crackers (or salt free crackers) taste great to me. I buy salt free saltines and the baked versions of Ritz and other baked, less sodium crackers. They make up for lack of salt and fat in taste.
Sugar free and low calorie fruit and tea drink mixes are really great and not too sweet. I love how the fruit flavor pops more than the sugar does. Yummy.
Cheese alternative is way cheaper than regular cheese and is decent for baking. I bought a 5 lb bag of “fake cheese” once because it was extremely cheap, like a couple bucks, and didn’t realize it wasn’t real cheese until I read the label. I’ll be honest, it has no where near the flavor of even mild cheese, but works for cooking with at least. I wouldn’t put it in a sandwich, but this cheap alternative to fatty cheese is great to sprinkle on baked or fried foods to give that (slight) cheese taste.
Some low fat salad dressings fair better than others. I always make my own salad dressings, using skim milk in the packaging. Tastes just fine. Store bought fat free or low fat dressings just have that low fat diet taste, so if you’re wanting to cut back on your calories for salad dressings, make your own with skim milk and you’ll get a better flavor.
Soy bacon bits, or “fake” bacon bits taste just fine, and are perfect for cooking with, putting on salads and eating as a snack. This is the only vegetarian meat that tastes like the real thing to me, and even soy bacon tastes like regular bacon, only it looks like play dough and is lots crispier. If you can get past the appearance of fake bacon, you won’t be missing any flavor. I’m a vegetarian and actually have issues eating fake bacon because of how real it tastes. However, fake bacon bits are much cheaper than real bacon bits, and are usually what they put out in salad bars anyhow, so you’ve likely had them before and never even noticed the difference. Use soy bacon bits in sandwiches too and you’ll be surprised how yummy they are.
Basically, any food that comes in a low sodium variety will taste more like food than the saltier version from my experience. Some low fat foods fare better than others, but are tolerable to actually tasty. You can substitute many of your fattier, saltier and sweeter purchases for their healthier counterparts without being disappointed.