If you’re trying to eat healthy, but are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry! With these 11 easy healthy food swaps, you can make the best healthy choices and get healthy without feeling deprived (or miserable) during your health journey!
Eating healthy can be tough, right? There are cookies, brownies, chips, pizza…all those things that keep us daydreaming during a boring meeting at work. Yes, we’re surrounded by “naughty” foods screaming our names.
But just like there are tons of unhealthy foods out there, today we also have more healthy choices than ever before. And they actually can taste good.
I am one of the people who does not agree that eating healthy is tough. At least it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, it is easy, and preparing healthy recipes is a lot easier than preparing something unhealthy. I know I sound delusional, but it’s a fact. And it’s also cheaper and quicker. None of the recipes on this site takes longer than 40 min. And that’s like 3-4 recipes. Everything else can be done in less than 30 minutes.
So no matter how much time you have to cook, this list below will give you ideas how to make healthier choices every time.
1. Smoothie bowl instead of ice cream
Smoothie bowls are basically fruits – frozen and blended. Nothing more. No big mystery.
Most recipes use frozen bananas that give smoothie bowls a nice and creamy texture.
But if you’re like me and hate, truly hate, frozen bananas – soaking some nuts and blending those with some fruit will work as well.
A smoothie bowl has no refined sugar and is bursting with antioxidants, phytochemicals and good fats. While ice cream…well it’s bursting with saturated fat and sugar. Both pro-inflammatory and not great for your overall health. Here’s a smoothie bowl recipe, I really love right now.
2. Smoothie instead of a milkshake
While I’m on the smoothie wagon, let’s also check this off. Strawberry shake was one of my favorite treats as a kid. But. Instead of adding all that cream, sugar and ice cream, you can just make a strawberry smoothie.
You can follow my recipe here, or just create your own by combining frozen strawberries, some sweet fruit like oranges or bananas and if you like some coconut cream. It’s easy, delicious and super healthy.
3. Lettuce instead of tortillas
If you like eating wraps as much as I do, you will benefit a lot from this swap. It’s exactly what you’re reading: a lettuce leaf instead of tortilla. Fewer calories and more micronutrients. If you want even more nutrients you can wrap your meals in collard greens. Now this swap might seem a little unappealing at first, but once you try it – you won’t regret it. I know I hated even the thought of a “lettuce wrap”, but now I actually find them more delicious than the regular ones. Here are two of my favorite lettuce wrap recipes: Quinoa and Bean Lettuce Wraps and Vegan and Paleo Lettuce Wraps.
4. Olive oil instead of other oils/dressings
The best and easiest dressing for me has always been olive oil and vinegar. Sometimes even lemon. When you use this simple combination as a dressing instead of other ready dressings you avoid a ton of hidden sugars. Olive oil the best choice of fat for salads as it’s rich in monounsaturated fats and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-microbial polyphenols (1).
5. Millet instead of couscous
Not that I have anything against couscous, but it’s got a competitor that’s far better than him. It’s called millet. Now while couscous is just a tiny wheat pasta, millet is…well millet. It’s a whole grain and it’s alkaline, gluten-free and super tiny. You know what’s not tiny? Millet’s nutritional power. At the same calories, millet has almost double the micronutrients of couscous like for example iron, magnesium, zinc, B-vitamins and it has double the fiber. If a recipe calls for couscous, you can use millet instead – it has a similar texture, but it’s not as bland as couscous, having a nutty, more intense flavor.
6. Infused water instead of soda or juice
Seems like whatever we’re drinking these days it’s bad for us. You know what isn’t bad for us? Water.
Instead of drinking diet coke or fruit juices – drink water! Simple, requires no preparation and is great for your skin and for weight loss.
Now if you don’t like plain water, you can infuse your water with fruits using a fruit infuser water bottle or even simpler by just adding some lemon slices to your water.
7. Lentils or quinoa instead of white rice
White rice is not the unhealthiest thing in the worlds, but it has a high glycemic index and is not very nutritious, because it’s been stripped down from all its fiber and most of its micronutrients.
Better options that cook faster than brown rice: quinoa, lentils or millet.
All these options are good sources of protein & fiber and provide a good amount of iron, zinc and magnesium. You can use quinoa and millet almost anywhere instead of rice. It will be tougher to use lentils instead of rice in all your favorite meals, but you can start with your sides and experiment from there.
8. Nuts+dried fruit instead of cookies
When you blend some dried fruit and nuts, guess what you get? Something that tastes like a cookie. And that something is rich in antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats.
If you’re like me and don’t like the texture of dried fruit, blend the dried fruit really well until smooth before adding nuts. Then add the nuts and if you like – some oats, cinnamon, cacao or vanilla. Here’s a healthy recipe for a chocolate dessert I made a while ago.
9. Hummus or avocado instead of mayo
Mayonnaise is a perfect example of how a food can be very high in fat, especially saturated fat and nothing else.
Therefore instead of mayo use avocado, hummus or even probiotic yogurt – all these taste great, but provide more nutrients than mayo does.
Hummus, for example, is high-fiber, high-protein and contains a great amount of iron, zinc, magnesium, folate and vitamin B6.
Here are some recipes that use these substitutions (in a way) instead of mayo:
10. Ground oats instead of refined flour
This one is my favorite. I discovered around 3 years ago that I can make almost anything I want with ground oats. Muffins, pancakes, cheesecake crusts, apple crumble…anything. In fact I don’t even know how to use regular flour anymore. The benefit of this swap is that oats have more fiber (especially beta glucan) and more micronutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc and B-vitamins. Oats are also a good source of prebiotics – needed for healthy gut, and are known to lower cholesterol (2).
This swap is as simple as grounding some oats in your coffee/nut grinder. And then using that oat flour instead of white flour.
Oats do absorb more water than white flour, but once you get the hang out of it, you’ll forget about white flour altogether.
If you want to try this swap you can start with these recipes:
11. Breakfast: Overnight oats or yogurt with berries instead of Milk+Cereal
Both of these breakfast alternatives to milk and cereal are easy to do and take absolutely no time.
So instead of high-sugar cereal, you can start your day with a breakfast that will actually fill you up and give you real energy.
Both these healthy breakfast options are also good for your gut – yogurt contains probiotics and oats contain prebiotics. Overnight oats are also high-protein, high-fiber and rich in omega-3’s, while yogurt with berries and nuts is high-protein and rich in omega-3’s.
As for the recipes, you can find them here:
And that is it.
I hope these swaps can make your transition to a healthier lifestyle easier if you’re just starting out and if you’re already eating healthy, hopefully you got some new ideas. Let me know if you try out these ideas and as always don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions, I’d love to help.