Do you ever get in the mood to make a dessert and then after you finish a piece you feel guilty? What about when you add a not-so-healthy ingredient into your dinner recipe? I know for me if I add any ingredient that doesn’t have a nutritional benefit I feel guilty about the whole meal. That sounds ridiculous as I type that but it’s the truth because taking care of your body with the right nutrients is showing respect for yourself and your wellbeing.
So, how can we feel a little less guilty when baking or cooking? Below are great alternatives to replace the ingredients that don’t have nutritional benefits. The first thing you may be thinking is that the taste of your food will change and not be as good. Okay, first of all… change that attitude. That’s what a five-year-old would say and if you’re reading this, I know you’re not five. Time to grow up and update the pallet people! :) I have tried each of the replacements and there was no difference in the way they tasted.
Before I give you healthier options to feel less guilty with your meals it is very important to point out that you should not be afraid of carbs. Usually, the people who have never taken a course on nutrition will be the ones to think that that should stay the heck away from carbs. WELL, carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. If you have ever tried a no-carb diet you would remember that you were tired and irritable… take a hint that the no-carb diet is not the way to live life. Your brain needs glucose from carbohydrates to properly function for memory, learning and thinking. Everything is good in moderation. With that said, if you want Kraft’s Mac and Cheese, eat it but balance it out with a fruit or veggie. If you want healthier options when you eat carbohydrates, then eat sweet potatoes, corn, peas, squash, quinoa, oats or bananas. I am dedicating a whole paragraph to carbs because it is one of the biggest health misconceptions and I know some of the replacements that I list below will have some people think that I am saying to cut out carbs. I AM NOT SAYING THAT. I am giving options to incorporate more nutritional benefits into your life. You’re welcome.
Instead of All-Purpose Flour replace it with Almond Flour.
Almond flour is lower in carbs, gluten-free, higher in protein and healthy fat and contains fiber.
Instead of Sugar replace it with Monk Fruit.
Monk fruit is made from the fruit’s extract whereas sugar is artificially processed. Monk fruit is safer for people with diabetes, has no carbs, fat or calories and is anti-inflammatory.
Instead of Brown Sugar replace it with Coconut Sugar.
Coconut sugar is less processed than brown sugar and contains more nutrients. It contains healthy fats, iron and antioxidants. Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index which means that it does not spike your blood sugar levels as high or fast as processed sugars.
Instead of Vegetable Oil replace it with Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil or Avocado Oil.
Benefits of replacing vegetable oil are:
Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, may help heart health
Aid in liver health and digestion, help regulate blood pressure, boost HDLs (good cholesterol)
Strengthened immune system, healthier skin, energy booster
Reduce cholesterol, may prevent gum disease and symptoms of arthritis
Instead of regular White Pasta replace it with Whole Grain or Chickpea Pasta.
Whole grain pasta is higher in fiber and micronutrients while also being lower in calories and carbs.
Chickpea pasta is much higher in protein and fiber than regular pasta. It has greater amounts of iron and potassium, the two key minerals essential for circulation.
Instead of Croutons replace it with Roasted Chickpeas.
If you’re anything like me, you need a good crunch to your salads. By replacing croutons with roasted chickpeas you are adding more protein and fiber to your meal. Chickpeas improve digestion, make a great replacement for meat in vegetarian and vegan diets, help manage weight and can be a great filling snack!
Other small replacements that you can make are using chicken broth instead of beer, crackers or rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs, almond, oat, or camel milk instead of dairy milk and my personal favorite - carrots and hummus instead of chips and dip.
These are all small changes that can be made to your meals and snacks but over time they may have big impacts on your health. Try them out and notice how you feel after. Are you less bloated? Do you have more energy? Let me know what you think!