Food Swap! Replace These 5 Pantry Staples With Their Healthier Counterparts
We all know that a great food swap can make the difference between keeping a recipe in your regular menu or having to save it for rare treats. After all, some ingredients may taste fantastic, but they’re not necessarily good for our waistlines. But what happens when it comes to pantry staples?
It’s Important to Get the Food Swap Right
There are other times when we think we’re eating healthy options, but it turns out that we’ve been duped into thinking we’re on the right track out of nothing more than sheer habit.
Are there really effective food swap options for ingredients that have become staples in our lives? Absolutely! The secret is to know which ones are truly great swaps and which ones are best left on the shelf. Start to ask yourself: Is the bread you’re eating really good for you? Are you cooking with the right oils? Is your breakfast cereal working against you?
Each Food Swap on This List is Small but Makes a Big Difference
Consider the following food swap ideas for replacing 3 of the top staples in many kitchens:
1. Whole wheat bread
Many people believe that because they’re eating whole wheat bread, they’re eating a healthy choice that will reduce their risk of conditions like diabetes or heart disease. That said, not all whole wheat bread is created equal. While some is made of the whole grain wheat and very few ingredients (ideally, four), others are actually made from refined white flour mixed with whole wheat flower, as well as a surprising amount of sugar, salt, chemicals and preservatives.
No matter what the front of the label may claim, check the ingredients list for the true story. Make sure you find the worlds “whole grain” in the ingredients, too. Otherwise, you may as well be eating white bread.
2. Vegetable oil
Vegetable oil can be made up of any number of individual or combination oils, such as canola or palm, among others. Even though the word “vegetable” sounds healthy, this type of oil is often very high in trans fats and can do more harm than good to your body.
Choose a heart healthier option such as olive oil, used sparingly. Sesame, avocado, flax, coconut and peanut oils used in small amounts are also among the better options. That said, they should also be used in very small amounts. While there are significant nutritional benefits to including healthy oils and fats in your diet, it is important not to overindulge. They come with a high dose of calories. Therefore, while eating small amounts will help your wellness, too much will only do more harm than good.
3. Breakfast cereals containing chocolate or “clusters”
These types of cereals may contain some healthy nutrients, but they also contain a shocking amount of sugar and salt. It is the sugar content that is typically the most problematic among the ingredients, though the artificial ingredients don’t help. Look for alternatives such as muesli that doesn’t contain any added sugars.
4. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt always makes it to the top lists of healthy food. However, if you’re not choosing the right type, you may need to make a healthy food swap to make up for it. If you are hoping to enjoy the health benefits of this food, then it’s a good idea to focus on eating plain, unsweetened yogurt.
The reason is that as soon as you purchase the forms in fruit and other flavors, you’ll be adding sugar or artificial sweeteners to your meal. These can negate the benefits that you’d otherwise enjoy from making a smart choice. If you’re looking for a yogurt that will help to support your nutrition and align well with a weight management eating strategy, look at options such as plain, unsweetened Greek style.
This will provide you with a good amount of protein in addition to the other benefits of the dairy. Whether you choose a reduced fat or full-fat version depends on the type of diet you have chosen to follow.
5. Spinach Pasta
Spinach pasta and other vegetable infused pastas may sound as though they’re a great nutrition choice, but they’re not nearly as good for you as you might think. Even if you eat a whole bowl of these noodles, you won’t come anywhere near receiving a full serving of veggies. This food swap doesn’t offer much more than your standard white pasta.
If you’re looking for a truly healthy food swap to replace your white pasta, you have options. Look for whole grain varieties of pastas. Many brands are offering whole grain options and several have pastas that are considerably better in taste and texture than had once been the case. Pastas that had once been grainy are now smooth and delightful.
If you’re hoping to increase your vegetable intake, consider getting a spiralizer and making noodles out of squash, zucchini and other actual vegetables.