When you’re trying to lose weight, part of it is to eat more veggies and fruit, up your greens intake, and focus on lean protein sources. And of course, don’t forget to drink lots of water (try detox water), exercise and give your body adequate sleep for recovery and repair.
But there’s one more thing you can do to help you reach your goals: start swapping out some of your less than healthy foods and recipe ingredients for more nutritious options!
Here’s eight of them to get you started:
Replace sugar with Dates – I don’t need to give much explanation about the need to eliminate refined sugar from your diet. I know you’ve heard it a million times, and read a hundred more articles about it and how you should do it and what you can do and blah blah blah. But I’m not downplaying that it’s hard, and will take some time, especially if you have it in your diet frequently already.
So let’s try to make it a little easier on you and make a replacement instead of a full on elimination: use dates in place of sugar. Whether you are craving something sweet, or a recipe calls for sugar, dates are a great low glycemic replacement. Soak them in hot water if you need them to be soft (say, to beat into a cookie recipe), and eat one or two whole if you are just craving a sugary treat. They do not cause a spike in your blood sugar because of their low glycemic index, so they are a great way of getting sustained, steady energy.
Replace Ice cream with banana softserve – If you haven’t tried out banana softserve yet, you’re missing out. Get on it! Peel, and chop bananas into large pieces and then freeze for 3-4 hours, or overnight. When they are ready, put them in a blender and whiz away. It may take a while for them to go creamy, but it’s worth the wait: the result is sweet softserve ice cream made of fruit. Add some cacao or vanilla protein powder to flavor it and take it to the next level. You’ll never want regular softserve again!
Replace cheese with nutritional yeast – Okay, so it doesn’t have the melting qualities of cheese, but if you are making a cheese sauce, or just want a cheesy flavor on top of your pizza or pasta, this stuff is the answer. Plus, it’s high in protein and adds great flavor to many dishes. Try it in hummus, soups and sauce too.
Replace sweetened dried cranberries with goji Berries – If you’re used to adding dried cranberries to a salad, or grabbing a handful as a snack, it might be time to take a second look. A lot of the cranberries you buy in the store have added sugar, and sometimes added oil. If you can’t find the natural unsweetened version, try replacing them with goji berries instead. Not only are goji berries a superfood, packed with antioxidants, but they have a much lower sugar content than cranberries. And they turn crunchy when they get cold, so you can add a nice crunch to the top of your salad!
Replace potato chips with kale chips – When you are after a salty, crunchy treat, don’t reach for the bag of potato chips. Instead, let’s make kale chips! Easier to make than you may think, these little green bites still satisfy your salty, crunchy craving, but with less fat and far more nutrients. Rip the kale into bite size pieces and massage them in coconut oil or olive oil until they are soft. Toss with salt and any other flavourings you may prefer and place each one on a baking tray. Sprinkle with more salt and then bake in a 350 degree Fahreneheit oven for 8-10 minutes or until crunchy. Watch carefully, as they burn quickly!
Replace butter with coconut oil – If I told you that I had a product that was hard at room temperature, but could be heated and melted, was a fat and could be used in baking, frying and cooking, you may think I was talking about butter. Well I could be. But the good news is, coconut oil has all the same properties but a much better nutrition profile. It is loaded with healthy fats and has been shown to help keep you full and aid in digestion. Try it in the next recipe that calls for butter, or use it for your next stir fry.
Replace creamy sauces with avocado cream – You may be used to slicing your avo up to put on your toast, or mashing it with lime for your guacamole, but avocado has an incredibly creamy texture when pureed until smooth. Next time, try it as your new cream sauce. Place the avocado with some garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and a teaspoon or two of milk into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and then toss through your pasta! Perfect creamy delight but with only the good fats invited!
Replace soda or sparkling beverages with kombucha – Sometimes it’s nice to have a beverage other than water, especially when you chug it all day to help in detox and keep you hydrated. Instead of reaching for soda or juice, try some kombucha. Kombucha is fizzy and comes in several different flavours, but most importantly, is loaded with probiotics and is great for gut health. You can find it at your local health store or in the organic section of your grocery store, or better yet, brew your own at home.
Have a look at your kitchen and see what swaps you could be making to help you achieve your health goals!