August 3, 2017 Carol Miller

5 Easy Food Swaps for Healthier Meals

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Healthy eating is a hot topic today, yet many of us are still struggling. Thinking you need to make drastic changes all at once will lead to giving up.  You should rather start with these 5 food swaps to get your family started on eating healthier plan without the constant battle to eat better.

As parents, our lifestyles change, and a few of us struggle with our weight. Even if you don’t face this battle, eating healthy has its benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages.

Nutritiously deficient food or bad food impacts everyone, even if it doesn’t cause weight gain it has cardiovascular and other issues long term.

As parents we have our kids best interest at heart, we want to set them up for lifelong success. This includes teaching them how to eat healthier.

Experience has shown us that bad habits are difficult to conquer.

The easiest way to avoid a bad habit is not to start one.

Once bad habits set in, they are hard to break; it’s far easier if we never pick them up, to begin with.

It’s hard to go cold turkey on things that you’re used to. However, you need to think of the long term advantages.

How do you ease into healthy eating?

Use food swaps. These easy food swaps can make the difference. As a result, our kids will have a much healthier diet and not miss the fat laden, poor nutrition choices of the past.

Our children will not need the junk as an adequate replacement; they will have the knowledge of making the right food choices early. They will then have the benefit of being healthier parents themselves.

5 Easy Food Swaps to get you on the road to healthy eating:

#1: Salty Snacks

We all get cravings for salty food; processed potato chips and similar are fried and can contain chemicals, such as artificial coloring and MSG.

Popcorn

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We all have been told that popcorn is a great alternative for potato chips, Doritos, and other fried chips. Be careful when buying popcorn as many varieties are still loaded with chemicals.

The best choice would be to air pop kernels at home. Add the air popped popcorn to a bag, sprinkle with cinnamon and shake to mix the flavor throughout the popcorn.

Grated Cheese

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A 1/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese for use as a nutritious savory snack

A quarter cup of grated fat-free cheddar is healthier and just as satisfying as a one-ounce bag of chips. An added benefit is you are both protein and calcium with this quick snack along with satisfying a salt craving. At 45 calories per 1/4 cup, it’s a filling snack.

#2: Sweet and Bubbly

Pop or Soda is not the best thing to put into your body, and it’s not just the calories or sugar. It’s the caramel coloring, the phosphoric acid, and the caffeine. Today we know that high fructose corn syrup is not good for us and sugar itself has been shown to metabolize glucose in some cancers.

If this wasn’t enough of a concern, their use of processed sugar substitutes should be. Diet sodas have loaded with chemical based sugar alternatives. Data suggest artificial sweetener users don’t always lose weight, and that they may not be armed against diabetes. According to a recent Time Magazine article, researchers found the following:

“The body reacts to artificial sweeteners differently than it does to sugar — the healthy bacteria that live in the gut, for example, change when these compounds are around — and the consequences might be both surprising and unwelcome, especially for children.”

Sugar based soda’s on average have 150 empty calories.

Juice + Seltzer or Water and Flavouring

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Slice up an apple, add a few cinnamon sticks for a refreshing drink

For years, I was addicted to diet sodas. This year I said it was time to give it up. The financial savings alone was enough reason. However, this was more of a self-imposed challenge, to see if I can do it and I succeeded!

I’m living proof you can stop the soda habit, even if you’re addicted. Today, I make up my own concoctions of different fruits, honey, cinnamon and more that I know are far healthier and much more satisfying.

Cutting an all natural fruit juice with seltzer gives you one serving of fruit, is more thirst quenching and doesn’t have the chemicals that sodas contain. By diluting apple juice, for example, you cut the calories intake from 117 calories to less than 25. Adding seltzer gives you the carbonation of soda without the harmful additives.

Other flavors and sugar substitutes  that you can add to juice, seltzer or plain water are:

  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Lemon
  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruits
  • Pureed Bananas

#3 Sweetened Yogurt

Flavored yogurts, more often than not, have syrups and artificial coloring as additives. While this may not be the worst of all things, it still adds empty calories. If you can make a better choice and food swap, why not? You’ll find that the flavor and texture are improved, and it’s probably more economical.

Fresh Fruit with a Plain Yogurt – Honey Drizzle

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Yogurt is an excellent food to add into your diet. Not only is it high in calcium, but it also adds healthy probiotics to our digestive tract.
Mixing fresh fruit or pureed fruit of any kind adds the sweetness you crave. You can then warm some honey and plain yogurt in the microwave for 30 seconds and drizzle this over the fruit. You have a fantastic snack that all will enjoy and, at the same time, eliminating added sugar and coloring. Be careful, though, not to use an artificial apple sauce that has added sugars as well. My favorite option is to make my own fruit purees. You can add fresh fruit as well to perk it up.
A great alternative is to make my own fruit purees with a blender. You can add fresh fruit as well to perk it up.
For the younger set, try giving them a homemade flavored yogurt in a straw sippy cup.

#4 Chocolate Milk

Kids need calcium to grow healthy bones as do adults. Most kids won’t drink plain milk, especially skim milk. So how do you get past this obstacle and make milk a snack they want? There has to be an easier and healthier way to get kids to drink milk. The conclusion, add a healthier flavor to milk which is the perfect replacement.

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Blackstrap Molasses 

This all natural sweetener is flavorful and goes very well with milk. Replace chocolate syrup with it and gain the added benefits of vitamins and minerals, versus the empty calories of chocolate syrup.

Blackstrap Molasses is an excellent source essential nutrients iron and calcium. One teaspoon has 59 calories, and it’s fat and cholesterol free while it has negligible amounts of sodium. Blackstrap molasses does contain a somewhat high level of sugar but the vitamin and mineral it offers offsets the harmful effects of processed sugar for those with a sweet tooth. By adding it to milk, you’re not destroying it; you’re enhancing it. In case you were wondering if Blackstrap Molasses have any health benefits…. health benefits of blackstrap molasses.

#5 Bottled Dressings

Most bottled dressings have high fructose corn syrups added, MSG and colorings. If you can remove a harmful ingredient and replace it with something better, why not? It’s healthier for the family.

Olive Oil Dressing

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The greatest amount of monounsaturated fat is in olive oil of among cooking oils, and it is also an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants as well, which provides a double benefit for making this switch.

Want to lower your LDL or bad cholesterol and raise your good or HDL cholesterol? Add monounsaturated olive oil to your diet. It is well studied and documented that LDL cholesterol blocks arteries building up plaque on artery walls, which slows blood flow and given time leads to heart disease and high blood pressure. So, if you need just one reason, do it for your families health.

Here are some easy to make at home and tasty olive oil dressing recipes. 

Avocado Based Salad Dressing

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Sometimes you want a creamy mayo based salad dressing in place of a light olive oil dressing that just won’t cut it. Bring in the avocado; it is the perfect alternative when mixed with some plain yogurt.

While it’s also not the lowest fat item on the planet, it has some of the healthiest fats you can get and wholesome goodness instead of chemical and sugar additives.

You can check out this delicious avocado dressing recipe or these awesome avocado recipes for burgers, salads and more to add a bit of healthy creaminess to the texture to your family’s diet.

Try replacing a few of these items each week into your families diets, over a two to three week period. Over time, add in other healthy cooking substitutes in your meal planning. You will find that these simple changes make sense to a lot of healthy goodness!