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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Eat better, feel better: Simple swaps from Carly Paige of FitLiving Eats

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The Orlando-based chef and cookbook author suggests easy recipe switches and no-cook meal ideas.

Listen to the episode

Carly Paige is on a mission. Her goal? “To refine what healthy means for people,” says the Orlando-based chef, social media influencer and cookbook author.

Carly started by redefining “healthy” for herself. She has fond memories of family dinners like chicken in cream of mushroom soup and pizza with Pillsbury dough as the crust. But she later realized home-cooked doesn’t always mean healthy.

“It was delicious, but it wasn’t necessarily nutritious,” Carly says. “But I didn’t recognize the difference then.”

After struggling with anxiety and acne, Carly gradually changed what she ate.

“I started changing what was on my plate,” Carly says. “And as I made those changes, I noticed how much better I felt on the inside and how that translated to how I looked on the outside—not just in my skin clearing, but in the overall confidence that I had in moving throughout my day.”

She hopes to offer that same confidence to others.

“I think that we overcomplicate it,” Carly says. “Today there are so many diets and lifestyles and conflicting information out there that it can be really hard to navigate when you’re just looking to feel better and you don’t know where to start.”

In her plant-based cookbook, Simply Swapped Everyday, Carly suggests substitutions to add more nutrition without sacrificing flavor. For example:

  • When baking, instead of white or brown sugar, use coconut sugar.
  • Rather than all-purpose flour, substitute a mixture of almond flour and oat flour.
  • Instead of melted cheese or heavy cream, add cashew cream or almond milk.

While Carly isn’t a vegan, she eats a largely plant-based diet.

“I don’t believe you have to be vegan in order to reap the health benefits of plant-based foods,” she says.

A sample day of her meals looks like this:

  • Breakfast: smoothie with spinach, peaches, cherries, vanilla protein powder, almond milk, avocado or almond butter and green powder for “a little extra boost”
  • Lunch: salad with chicken or fish
  • Dinner: lentil walnut tacos with pineapple mango salsa

In this episode of The Zest, Carly offers encouragement for adopting a healthier lifestyle. She also suggests flavorful no-cook recipes that are ideal for the Florida heat.

“Because it does get so hot here, we crave those lighter foods. So we crave things like smoothies. We crave things like salads or the chilled soba noodle bowl,” Carly says. “In a way, our environment sets us up for a little bit of healthier eating, because we’re looking for lighter, brighter, fresh flavors.”

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