Inside scoop: These are 10 delicious and healthy food alternatives to some of the most popular comfort foods.
This post was submitted by Shayma Vawda, a freelance writer, SEO specialist and virtual assistant based in South Africa.
Developing healthy lifestyle habits can be challenging for many of us, even those within the health and wellness industry. And, a healthy lifestyle is a balancing act. It’s not all about kale and smoothies, it’s also about a slice of pizza and donut with your coffee once in a while. The most important aspect about a healthy lifestyle is having a healthy relationship with the food on your plate.
So, what can you do if you want to incorporate some healthy food alternatives into your diet? It’s simple, you can try swapping traditional foods with some healthier options that a lot of times actually taste better than what we are accustomed to. This means that you absolutely don’t need to compromise on flavor or taste, just swap, swap, and swap down the list.
Identify what’s important or unimportant to you, what is easy vs hard to swap, and what will have an absolutely huge vs microscopic effect on your health to prioritize your shopping or take-out list. And, take it slow!
To start, here are some totally effective and delicious healthy food alternatives to try and stock in your pantry. The key here, as with any dietary adjustment, is habit and adherence. You might be surprised how quickly these factors help train your brain as it becomes accustomed to a whole new world of delicious, yet healthy food alternatives.
10 HEALTHY FOOD ALTERNATIVES TO TRY TODAY
1. Almond Milk for Dairy Milk (or Another Plant-Based Milk)
When I grew up my family drank a lot of milk and gradually dropped the percentage from whole to skim in efforts to be healthy, but that was the 90’s and now we know better. Despite more mature knowledge about the consumption of fat, dairy milk can still be a problem for many of us that can’t digest lactose (a type of natural sugar found in milk).
Plant-based milks are trending all over the globe, and they can be a great tasty and healthy alternative.
If you’re not a fan of almond milk, you can try cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, walnut milk, hazelnut milk, and whatever other advances in milk science show up in your supermarket. Since many of these products come sweetened, try to go for the ‘unsweetened’ option. You can always sweeten yourself with some dates or honey.
Making your own plant-based milk is also quite easy. You can find a 3 Ingredient Naturally Sweetened Almond Milk recipe here.
2. Coconut Water for Sports/ Energy Drinks
Despite having a weird reputation for being healthy, just like fizzy cool drinks and other pop beverages, sports drinks are typically loaded with sugar and caffeine. If you’re continuously sipping on these drinks during your workouts or running sessions, you may be feeling the quick rush followed by an energy crash.
Coconut water is not only a healthier option but may work just as well as a sports drinks. It’s loaded with electrolytes, which provide us with energy and will keep you hydrated. Now you can have a sports drink that’s totally refreshing and sweet – without the refined added sugar!
3. Dark Chocolate for Milk Chocolate
Chocolate can be totally good for you. Organic dark chocolate is a much better option that milk-based chocolate. Dark chocolate is packed with fiber, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants and iron.
If you’re not accustomed to dark chocolate, you can try to increase the % of chocolate gradually until you reach 70%.
Bonus: dark chocolate is also great for your skin. You can find delicious chocolate based recipes here.
4. Grass-Fed Butter or Ghee for Margarine
Margarine has historically been labeled as a healthy food alternative itself, but we now know that trans fats are a known contributor to heart disease.
As an alternative to margarine, go for small amounts of grass-fed butter which contains a lot more nutrients like short-chain fatty acids that fight inflammation and vitamin K2, and is less processed than margarine.
You can use it for baking purposes, cooking, and spreads.
5. Spelt or Almond Flour for Refined Wheat Flour
Not ready to go gluten-free? It’s ok, you don’t necessarily have to, but we can all use some variety in our diet and for our baking needs.
If you’re ok with gluten, then you can try spelt flour that is usually easier to digest and more nutritious than refined wheat flour. Almond flour is another healthy option that’s packed with healthy fats, protein and fiber, and is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and magnesium. This Vegan Butter Tarts recipe is a favourite made with almond flour.
6. Stevia for Sugar
Many people are under the impression that stevia is an artificial sweetener. However, this is not the case. Stevia is actually a healthier plant-based alternative and has been used for centuries.
It is much sweeter than sugar and provides 0 calories per serving. So, instead of adding teaspoons of sugar to your tea and other beverages, try stevia. You only need a little to satisfy a sweet tooth. Just make sure to choose natural green leaf stevia.
7. Smoothies for Fruit Juices
Fruit juices are another product that’s labeled as healthy, but that’s necessarily the case. Most commercial fruit juices are made from concentrates and loaded with sugar and preservatives.
A healthier alternative to fruit juices that are purchased at your local store are smoothies. You can add any fruits and vegetables of your choice and sweeten it to your liking – with natural sweeteners. Smoothies also retain all the beneficial fiber and pulp, and when made with the right ratio of healthy fats and protein, can be very nutritious and satisfying. There are also plenty of smoothie recipes that you can have fun with at home. In an effort to reduce or plastic use, we also love using stainless steel or glass straws.
8. Hummus for Mayo
Whether you’re having a sandwich or need a dip, hummus is a surprisingly delicious replacement for mayo.
Hummus adds a delicious creamy flavour, is loaded with protein and fiber, and is super easy to make at home with whatever combinations you’d like. Step up your game with this Spinach & Artichoke Hummus, or you can always choose to pick it up online or at your local grocery. Just make sure that it has a few ingredients and no added unnecessary oils and preservatives.
9. Bean Chips for Potato Chips or Fries
Fries and chips are one of the quintessential ‘comfort foods’, and they are essential and can definitely be enjoyed once in a while. But, they’re usually deep fried in unhealthy oils and packed with the wrong types of fat. A healthier food alternative would be to replace regular potato chips with bean chips, or even home-made Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries. Give it a go and let us know!
10. Cauliflower Rice for White Rice
Despite being gluten free, rice can still be hard for some of us to digest and is high on the Glycemic Index with regular cooking methods, so how about giving cauliflower rice a try? It’s easy enough to make at home, but if you don’t want the hassle there are plenty of options to buy frozen cauliflower rice and have a dish like this Paleo Cauliflower Egg Fried Rice ready in minutes.
Cauliflower is a super nutritious food and we love it at Guthack, because it’s also loaded with fiber and great for the digestive tract and general gut health.
Shayma Vawda is a freelance writer, SEO specialist and virtual assistant based in South Africa. She has worked on several projects and loves learning new skills. She has a passion for writing about psychological issues, health, and parenting. She has a deep interest in general health and mental health issues. She finds pleasure in researching different conditions and writing about them. She hopes that people find inspiration through her articles and is able to help others through her work. She also has a passion for digital marketing and continues to keep up with the latest digital marketing trends. She is currently working for Gut Hack.