Most of us are familiar with food swaps, where we swap an unhealthy food choice with a healthy one. We trade the glass of orange juice and eat the whole fruit instead, use mashed avocado instead of mayo, enjoy cheese and apple slices rather than cheese and crackers, and pass on the bread for whole wheat pita. But what if you were to up the ante and make food swaps from healthy to even healthier? We’re up to the challenge!
Here are a few food swaps that dare to go the extra mile. If you have some healthy-to-healthier food exchanges you would like to share, please let us know!
Cauliflower rice instead of brown rice. Not only is cauliflower rice more nutritious than brown rice; it also is super lower in calories and carbs. One cup of cauliflower rice has 25 calories and 5 grams of carbs, compared with 218 calories and 46 grams of carbs for brown rice. If you want to get your kids to eat more veggies, cauliflower rice is a great way to sneak the into their diet!
Avocado instead of banana in smoothie. Bananas are a standard smoothie ingredient, but you can up the nutrition by using avocado instead. One-half of an avocado (68 grams) contains about the same amount of calories (113) as a large banana but is packed with more nutrition and a very impressive dose of healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, folate, and vitamins C, E, B6, and B5, as well as magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper. So toss half an avocado into your next smoothie and enjoy!
Blended frozen banana instead of nondairy ice cream. For a healthier alternative to nondairy ice cream, which may be made from ingredients not everyone can get behind (e.g., nuts, soy), a super simple option may be blended frozen bananas. Peel four bananas, cut into thirds or quarters, freeze in a freezer bag for about six hours, then place in a blender. Process until smooth and serve or put in a container in the freezer. You can even add a dash of cinnamon during processing.
Cauliflower crust instead of whole wheat crust. Take a chance and change up your pizza with cauliflower crust instead of whole wheat. You can make your own cauliflower crust and add your favorite toppings to this gluten-free, low-carb alternative.
Zucchini noodles instead of whole wheat noodles. Also known as zoodles, this low-carb, gluten-free, lower calorie alternative to whole wheat noodles is also a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies. It is helpful to have a spiralizer, but you also can cut the zucchini into thin strips by hand or with a mandoline.
Sliced sweet potato instead of grain toast. Are you tired of toast? Then try gluten-free sliced sweet potato instead! Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good way to potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Cut a raw sweet potato into ¼ inch slices and place two slices into your toaster. You may need to toast each slice twice. Add your favorite topping (e.g., slices banana, nut butter, avocado, honey and chopped nuts) and enjoy!
Crushed nuts instead of whole wheat bread crumbs. The next time a recipe calls for a bread crumb topping, skip the white and whole wheat crumbs and opt for crushed (or pulverized, depending on your preference) nuts instead. Top off your meal with a dose of fiber, potassium, vitamin E, magnesium, and protein, as well as other nutrients. The nuts lowest in calories are almonds, cashews, and pistachios. Choose raw or dry roasted varieties.