Eating healthy can seem like a huge deal. Between Paleo, Veganism, Atkin’s, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, low-fat, low-carb…how do you even know where to start? It makes you want to give up before you even begin!
The way I started my holistic diet over a decade ago was not through an overnight overhaul. I am where I am today through simple, healthy food swaps over the years. Over the years, I ended up making over my entire way of eating, but just one day at a time. I believe that’s why I’ve been able to sustain a healthy (not to be confused with “perfect”) diet this long. And it doesn’t even feel like work!
These five foods are some of my favorites to swap in because of their amazing health benenfits and because they don’t feel like deprivation. They all taste the same or better than the foods they replace. Brilliant!
1. Himalayan Pink Salt instead of table salt. This stuff is awesome; it increases energy and concentration, enhances vitamin absorption from other foods, regulates blood pressure, and restores proper muscle and nerve function. Pink salt contains eighty-four essential minerals, and still tastes normal. Just switch your salt shaker for a little pink salt grinder at the table!
(Thanks June, from Braselbeez, for the tip on trying this one! Check out Braselbeez here- https://www.facebook.com/Braselbeez)
2. Birch Syrup instead of maple syrup. Now I’m not knocking good ol’ maple syrup! It does have fantastic health benefits, but I’d like to suggest a slightly healthier option to shake up your pantry a bit. Birch syrup contains more fructose as opposed to maple’s sucrose. This makes it easier to digest. It’s also lower in overall sugar and carbs, too. Birch syrup is a great source of calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, amino acids and anitoxidant compounds called polyphenols. The flavor is a bit deeper than maple, and adds a real richness to pancakes, sauces, and glazes.
3. Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar instead of white vinegar. Dare I use the term “super food” on this one? If there is any food I would bestow this so-trendy-it’s-annoying phrase on, it’s unfiltered apple cider vinegar. I almost consider it a cure-all; respiratory issues, infections, upset stomach, acne, digestive problems, dry skin, and even the common cold benefit from ingesting this liquid. It balances pH levels, which prevents a host of ills. It’s antiseptic and anti-inflammitory, controls blood sugar, and increases energy. And studies have shown that one table spoon taken twice a day in a glass of water helped a group of overweight people shed an average of nine pounds of fat without changing their diets or exercising!!! Give this one a whirl! It tastes delicious in salad dressings, sauces, or any way you would normally use white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar.
4. Coconut Palm Sugar instead of regular, granulated sugar. Not only does it bake up just like regular sugar, it has adds a caramel-y flavor with no weird, bitter, this-is-so-not-sugar aftertaste. It’s low glycemic (so your blood sugar doesn’t spike and crash) and high in zinc, iron, B vitamins, potassium and sixteen different amino acids, vitamin and A sugar you actually benefit from using! Win-win!
5. Quinoa instead of rice or other grains. Even though technically this is not a grain, in cooking, it acts and tastes like one. It’s gluten-free so it’s great for those with sensitivities (like my husband) and, for a plant, it’s super high in protein and it has twice the fiber of most grains. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) contains tons of vitamin E, saponins (which help prevent cancer and heart problems), magnesium (helps control blood sugar, regulate body temp, produce energy, form bones and teeth, relieve asthma and allergies), lysine (for tissue growth and repair), and the antioxidant manganese. Sometimes grocery stores only sell pouches containing a flavored combo of quinoa with rice. This is an easy, quick side option if you think your family will be suspicious of an intruder on the dinner table, but long term, search out a store that carries plain, unflavored quinoa. Many times it’s in the bulk food aisle (with granola, nut mixes, and our favorite treat- dark chocolate covered raisins!).
Hopefully this will make your transition to a healthier food life a bit easier! And if you already have a solid diet, maybe these suggestions will inspire some experimentation! Hope you find a new food-love!
As always, I’d love to hear from you!