Sometimes eating healthy is easier than you think! Simply swap in these 10 ingredients for 10 not-great-for-you foods, and clean eating will be a breeze.
Top 10 Healthy Ingredient Swaps
1. Cauliflower Rice for Grains
Nothing wrong with quinoa or whole-grain brown rice, but if you’re trying to avoid grains and/or up your veggies, cauliflower is the way to go. Plus, this detox-friendly, anti-inflammatory and low-cal veggie has a ton of health benefits like vitamin C, vitamin K, protein and minerals.
2. Avocado for Mayo
Every sandwich or wrap needs something to hold everything together, and avocado does the job just as well as mayo—but with the added benefit of omega-3s and fiber. Hummus would work here, too!
3. Nut Butters for Peanut Butter
Did you know that peanuts aren’t actually nuts? They’re legumes, which can make them hard to digest for many people, and are a no-no if you’re eating paleo. Peanut butter tends to be less nutritionally dense than almond or other nut butters, which can be swapped out for peanut butter in recipes, on toast or in smoothies and sauces. Peanut butter can be totally fine in moderation, but try to stay away from store-bought versions that contain salt, sugar or additives.
4. Maple Syrup for Sugar
Obviously you don’t want to be guzzling gallons of the stuff (okay, that actually sounds kind of good), but a high-quality maple syrup can be a nutritionally beneficial substitute when you need to sweeten something. While sugar only provides carbs, maple syrup (the real stuff!) provides minerals and antioxidants. There’s still sugar in it, but at least there’s some good in there, too!
5. Coconut Oil for Butter or Other Oils
We’re pretty obsessed with coconut oil, and for good reason. Not only does it have a ton of beauty applications, it’s a superfood that can be subbed in for oil or butter in baking or sautéing. The saturated fats found in coconut oil, which are medium chain triglycerides, are thought to improve heart health, burn fat and help you stay full longer. It’s also a great alternative for those who don’t eat dairy.
6. Sweet Potatoes for Potatoes
Potatoes aren’t that bad for you in moderation. But if you’re avoiding starches and want to get more vitamins, minerals and fiber, sweet potatoes are the way to go.
7. Dark Chocolate for Milk Chocolate
Chocolate’s goodness is corrupted by sugar, milk and additives in milk chocolate. Instead, opt for a high cacao-percentage dark chocolate that will provide antioxidants and have healthy fats, fewer carbs, less sugar and more fiber.
8. Infused Water for Fruit Juice
We all know we should drink more water, especially when we’re actively trying to eat clean. Water helps us flush out toxins and keeps our bodies functioning like they should; while beverages like fruit juice (even fresh-squeezed) contain water…the sugar—even if it’s naturally occurring—usually isn’t worth it. Instead of fruit juice, keep a carafe of fruit-infused water in the fridge to get the flavor and nutrients without the calories and sugar. Stick to eating the whole fruit or using it in a smoothie when you get your fruit fix; that way you ensure you’re getting the fiber, too.
9. Spaghetti Squash or ‘Zoodles’ for Pasta
Everyone loves pasta, and some whole grain varieties aren’t necessarily bad for you, but more veggies is always a good thing—especially if you’re avoiding grains. Sub in spaghetti squash strands, or zucchini noodles, for a healthier spin on pasta and top with marinara, pesto, olive oil and vinegar, just about anything!
10. Greek Yogurt for Yogurt or Sour Cream
The protein alone in Greek yogurt should be enough to make you a convert! Greek yogurt is slightly thicker and tangier than regular yogurt. If that bothers you, simply stir it up, add some fruit/a dash of honey or maple syrup and it’ll taste more familiar. I use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on burrito bowls; you can sub it in for a snack, or in cooking, creamy salad dressings, smoothies and baking.2