15 Easy (& Healthy) Swaps To Clean Up Your Family Meals
Written by Anna Jacobs
Photography by Michelle LeBlanc, Photographed By Ashley Sullivan
We don’t know about you, but we’re always on the lookout for easy, delicious ways to make cooking cleaner, greener, and better for our overall health. Whether it’s swapping heavy oils for lighter alternatives, or adding ingredients that pack a nutrient-rich punch, it’s simple to make your daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner better for both you and your family. Below, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite healthy ingredients that will leave you looking great and feeling even better. After all, they do say you are what you eat.
Used in Indian and Ayurvedic cooking, ghee is a nutritious alternative to butter that adds a delicious, nutty flavor to any meal. It is rich in butyric acid, which is anti-inflammatory and supports healthy immune systems and easeful digestion. Bonus tip: For dairy sensitive folks, ghee is lactose-free, so you can still achieve a creamy taste, without the added dairy. Win-win.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a beautiful addition to any plate and add a delightful crunch atop salads and smoothie bowls. These seeds are high in protein and Omega-3s, which make them especially great additions to vegetarian meals. Pepitas are also high in zinc, a powerful immune-boosting vitamin to stave off colds in the wintertime. Who knew such a small seed could provide so many health benefits!
Who isn’t ranting or raving about coconut oil these days? Swap out your usual cooking oil for a dollop of this creamy stuff for some serious health benefits and an island-like flavor. Coconut oil supports natural, regular hormone production and is full of healthy fats that support memory and concentration. If you’re brave enough, try a spoonful of it blended in your morning cup of joe for a healthy start to your day.
Swap out cheese for a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and be prepared to receive a hefty dose of B vitamins. High in amino acids, adding nutritional yeast to any meal is a great way to boost your metabolism and energy levels. We especially love it on popcorn with a spritz of liquid aminos for a delicious afternoon snack. It might sound strange, but trust us, it’s addictive!
Next time you find yourself reaching for the white sugar in your cabinet, think about picking up the jar of honey instead. A great way to stave off allergies and a cold, a spoonful of local honey will help your body build natural immunity to allergens. Honey is also high in antioxidants—known memory boosters—so consider adding a bit to your breakfast to kickstart a bright and sunshiney day.
Again and again, studies show that flax seeds reduce the risk of cancer. If that doesn’t have you onboard to add them to your cooking routine, they are also great for healthy, glowing hair and skin. Bonus tip: Grind them first for maximum absorption; you won’t want to miss out on any of the benefits these tiny seeds provide.
Tahini might sound like a funny, foreign word, but you’ve likely had it in dishes such as hummus. Swap out the butter and jam on your toast for tahini and a drizzle of honey. It might sound strange, but tahini is made of sesame seeds, and can help normalize blood pressure and cholesterol—the ultimate combination for a healthy heart.
We know that you’re likely already familiar with zucchini. So, why not whip out the spiralizer that’s been collecting dust in your cabinet and turn this veggie into a delicious pasta alternative. High in vitamin A, zucchini is a great way to improve eye health, especially for those on computers in the day.
Sprinkle these golden gems on top of toast or a bowl of yogurt for a nutritious and colorful start to your morning. A natural stress reliever, it’s always a great idea to keep bee pollen on-hand and snack on a spoonful of this yummy stuff to keep your cool in any situation. It’s also a vibrant shade of yellow, and adds a splash of color to any meal you pair it with.
We’ve all heard of golden milk, and regardless of if you’re into the trend, turmeric has an incredible amount of health benefits. A powerful anti-inflammatory, studies show that turmeric works better than aspirin. It is also a natural pain reliever, so try grating it into soup or mixing it into dips and spreads. The beautiful orange color will also leave all houseguests impressed.
Potentially the most universally liked food, avocado is versatile and so darn delicious. Full of healthy fats, fiber, and potassium, it’s for good reason that Americans have gone nutty for this fruit. Try it on top of a bagel instead of cream cheese, and top it off with some lox for a delicious breakfast or lunch. And, if you haven’t already, give avocado toast a spin! It’s likely to be you’re newest morning-time addiction.
Switch up your normal rice routine and serve up some grated cauliflower instead. It might sound strange, but a few seconds in the food processor will turn this veggie into a rice-like texture that everyone in your family will love. Rich in vitamin C and high in fiber, cauliflower is a great addition to any diet. You won’t even miss traditional white rice!
High in vitamin D, mushrooms are the perfect food for those of us living in cold, cloudy climates. If your kids aren’t a fan of the texture, blend some mushrooms into soups and stews for a delicious flavor and none of the sliminess.
It’s no secret that milk alternatives are buzzing right now! You’ve likely already heard of almond and soy milk, but have you given coconut a go? Add the creamy liquid to your coffee or try it in your cereal instead of cow’s milk. Rich in magnesium and selenium, coconut milk is great for nerves, blood pressure, and bones. And, who doesn’t love promoting healthy nerves, blood pressure, and bones?
You’ve likely heard of quinoa; perhaps you’ve even tried it for yourself. But, this funny looking grain is a great addition to vegetarian diets. A fantastic source of protein and iron, quinoa is a delicious swap to the usual rice you serve at dinner. Also, try cooking it in almond milk and cinnamon for a breakfast that will leave you feeling satisfied all morning long.
For even more information on healthy choices in the kitchen, check out 10 Delicious Coffee Alternatives, 10 Superfoods For Fertility & Hormones, and 12 Beauty Foods To Eat Now.
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