When it comes to nutrition, we have all heard plenty of healthy ideas. Sometimes, however, it feels difficult to change our habit—especially when we are in a crunch for time. We lead busy lives and we eat for today! We aren’t thinking about what will happen down the road if we keep consuming foods that are unhealthy for our bodies. To correct for this, keep it simple! By adopting the mindset of “stocking my kitchen with healthy choices is just as easy as keeping it stocked with unhealthy choices,” we can simply “swap” out what we are buying.
For example, as a replacement for standard dairy milk, grab a carton of almond or unsweetened coconut milk. Instead of regular white bread, choose a healthy whole grain or gluten-free bread. As an alternative to red meat, purchase lean choices such as free range, organic chicken or turkey. Adding wild caught fish such as salmon to our diets once a week has incredible health benefits, too.
Making small changes initially gives us a more realistic and manageable approach to our current and long-term health. Did you know that teaching your kids to learn “swaps” at an early age will create positive habits for a lifetime that may certainly change their potential for health complications?
Here a few simple swap ideas to get you started. Show off your new recipe versions with your family; you will find the healthier choices often taste better!
Instead of 1 egg, you can swap it for any of the following:
· 2 tbsp egg replacer w/water
· 1/4 cup applesauce
· 1 tbsp flaxmeal + 1 tbsp. water
· 1 tbsp chia seeds + 1 cup water
Instead of 1 cup canola or vegetable oil, swap it for:
· Avocado oil or triple filtered coconut oil
· 1 cup pumpkin or squash puree
· Depending on the recipe, 1/2 cup banana, pear puree or peach puree can be used instead of any oil
Instead of 1 cup butter, swap it for:
· 3/4 cup avocado (chocolatey recipes work best with avocado)
· 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (great in recipes that are spiced, such as cookies or carrot cake)
· 1 cup coconut oil (triple filtered unless you want the coconut flavor)
Instead of 1 cup sugar, swap it for:
· Date sugar (date sugar has been studied to have a lower glycemic index than coconut, palm, or cane sugars. Check conversion ratios per recipe)
· 2/3 cup maple syrup
· 2/3 cup honey
· 1 cup molasses
· 3/4 cup applesauce or banana mash
Instead of eggs for your occasional breakfast scramble, swap it for tofu. When you season tofu with a little cumin, turmeric, onion powder, salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder you have a tasty “egg styled” scramble that you will enjoy. Try adding a bit of roasted potato, onion and spinach, and you may have a family favorite.
Instead of pasta for dinner, swap it for an easy baked spaghetti squash. One of our favorite recipes is chunky spaghetti sauce stuffed inside of a baked spaghetti squash and topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese if preferred. Just follow our recipe for baked spaghetti squash. While the squash is cooking, make your favorite sauce but instead of meat, fill the sauce with hidden vegetables such as sautéed onions, carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, and parsley.
Gluten free Spaghetti Squash
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 Spaghetti squash
2 tbsp. oil or tomato sauce
1/2 cup lightly roasted nuts, crushed
Sea salt, parmesan, or vegan parmesan cheese
1) Cut squash in half lengthwise. You may scoop out seeds and fibers prior to baking, but can wait till after baked and cooled a little.
2) Bake squash cut side down on oiled cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes (check to see if softened by poking with knife)
3) Scrape out squash seeds and fibers if baked intact
4) Then, with a fork, scoop out the squash, which will look like spaghetti. Can mix with vegan butter or oil, salt, nuts, or add tomato sauce, basil, and vegan parmesan cheese
The following daily swaps will positively impact your health
· soda – Mineral Water (add lemon/lime or crushed mint with cucumber or orange slices)
· dairy ice cream – Try making your own with almond milk or full-fat coconut milk. (yes, we said full fat coconut milk, it is known to improve many aspects of our health) You can also make a frozen banana ice cream; it will be a big hit with your kids! Use maple syrup instead of sugar for sweetener. Or, if you are eating out, a healthier alternative would be gelato or sorbet.
· added salt – Try herbs and spices, or pink Himalayan salt. The added health benefits and wonderful flavor combinations will improve the taste of each recipe beyond your imagination.
· sour cream – Greek yogurt, no sugar added.
· white rice – Try quinoa
· croutons – Add almonds, pumpkin seeds, or walnuts
· breadcrumbs – Try crushed oats
· white potatoes – Sweet potatoes, purple sweet potato or yams are excellent choices