Julia Aspen, Sponsored by Independence Blue Cross
The reasons to eat healthy go way beyond weight. But keeping up with the healthy options out there — and even wanting to eat them — can be challenging. You may find yourself feeling lost in the grocery aisle and weighing the benefits of sweet potatoes vs. regular potatoes. Or worse, you may find yourself feeling like you have to leave your favorite tastes behind and start an entirely new relationship with food.
It’s difficult to change your lifestyle or train your palate to crave new things, but it's not impossible. These simple food swap ideas can help you ease into healthier habits without giving up the flavors and food rituals you love.
Swap out chips and dip for veggies and hummus
Veggies and hummus
When you’re craving a salty, fatty snack like chips and dip, reach for hummus and veggies instead. Veggies provide the crunch you need without the high calories, sodium and fat of fried chips. Creamy dips with fatty bases find a satisfying replacement in rich, creamy hummus. The chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, in hummus hold a myriad of health benefits, and research has shown they support heart health, liver function, low cholesterol and more.
Swap out gummy snacks for dried fruit
Fruit gummies can seem like a good choice. They’re usually enriched with vitamin C and often list fruit as an ingredient. But fruit snacks are basically candy. Some angry consumers have even instigated a class-action lawsuit against a leading fruit snack brand’s misleading health claims.
Instead, get your sweet satisfaction from whole fruit that has been dried. There are so many delicious varieties to choose from, each with natural vitamins and healthy fiber. Be sure to look for varieties with no sugar added, and control your portion sizes to keep it a healthy option.
Swap out white rice for brown rice
Rice is the perfect fluffy bed of carbs to support just about anything. It may seem like the difference between white and brown rice is negligible, but brown rice is considered a whole grain, while white rice is not. White rice is stripped of its germ and bran, robbing the grain of fiber, iron and vitamins. It has a higher glycemic index than brown rice, as it digests faster and raises the blood sugar at a higher rate. Studies have shown that choosing brown rice instead of white can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Swap out rice for riced vegetables
OK, you’re avoiding white rice in favor of brown, but are you ready for the next level? Try riced cauliflower or broccoli instead. This trend has gained widespread popularity, with major brands selling packaged versions.
When grated finely, these healthy vegetables take on the delightful, fluffy texture of rice and provide a neutral flavor profile that supports any dish you’d usually make with rice. If you’re counting calories, the count on a cup of cauliflower rice is a slim 25, while a cup of cooked brown rice has 218 calories. This clever swap is a great way to include more veggies in your diet while continuing to make the dishes you love.
Swap out tired greens for something new
It’s important to keep it green, but it's easy to get tired of your go-to sources. If you’re dutifully cooking with kale, try using mustard greens in your dishes for a delightfully peppery flavor. If your broccoli rabe has gotten dull, try collards. And, of course, if you’re still stuck on iceberg, challenge yourself to make the switch to romaine lettuce for a similar crunch with more vitamins.
Fight the boredom and get a different array of vitamins and minerals by mixing up your options. You don’t have to change the recipe much; just change the green! Exploring your options when it comes to greens keeps it fun and interesting, and it’s hard to go wrong with any choice.