Here are five simple food substitutions to help you eat healthier:
1. Instead of cereal, try overnight oats.
Even cereals that appear healthy may have more sugar and calories than you’d think. Sugary cereal is highly processed with many additives; starting the day with it will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.
The Substitute: An easy recipe with all the charms of cereal (not lucky) is overnight oats with almond milk. Top with your favorite fruits, walnuts, or cut up dates for a sweet, satisfying breakfast that won’t turn your tongue rainbow.
2. Pop your corn in a pan, not the microwave.
Some chemicals aren’t disclosed in popcorn ingredients because the exact makeup of popcorn’s flavorings is considered a trade secret. Instead, you will find something like “natural and artificial flavors” describing the unlisted ingredients. Diacetyl is a volatile chemical found in the butter flavoring of microwave popcorn. It’s a natural compound in foods like cheese, milk and coffee. It’s safe when swallowed but not inhaled.
The Substitute: Cut out the chemicals and make your own stovetop popcorn. Use coconut oil to pop it up and top it with Earth Balance or real butter, a pinch of salt and seasonings like curry, garlic powder, or even nutritional yeast (it actually tastes like cheese).
3. Try zero calorie Shirataki noodles over instant noodles.
Instant noodles are created to have an eternal shelf life, meaning they are highly processed. They are high in fat, calories, and sodium, with minuscule nutritional value.
The Substitute: Shirataki noodles are a zero-calorie vegan and gluten-free alternative to processed, high calorie noodles. They come from the konjac yam, which is the source of glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber that makes you feel full with less food. They are very long, so you’ll want to snip them with kitchen shears before sautéing. You can add them to broth or stir-fry. Just don’t cook them longer than 2-3 minutes… they become chewy if overcooked.
4. For strawberries, pick organic.
Strawberries are at the top of the list for fruits and vegetables with a high concentration of pesticide residue. Even if you wash the skin, pesticides will linger. Pesticides are stored in your colon, where they can slowly poison the body and are linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, and birth defects.
The Substitute: Eat organic strawberries! If you’re on a budget, make fruits with exposed skins the priority. Foods with outer coverings, like bananas, are better-protected from pesticides.
5. Frosting? Try making your own.
If you’re eating it directly out of the can, you may not care that there are absolutely zero health benefits in frosting. High in trans fat, sugar, and calories, frosting poses a risk to your cardiovascular health and weight. Even in small amounts, it will urge your body to store fat around the abdomen.
The Substitute: Nut butter frosting is still indulgent, but it’s definitely a healthier alternative. This peanut butter frosting recipe calls for powdered sugar, but if you want to avoid sugar, use stevia.