Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you how to “eat healthy.”
I’m not going to tell you how to “eat healthily,” either.
Everyone else already is. My Twitter feed is filled with all of these “lose weight” and “body transformation” tweets. Let me gobble my chocolate in peace, dang it!
What I want to do here is share with you the healthy substitutions I make every day. They’re simple and absolutely worthwhile. They also help to alleviate some of that Kit-Kat guilt.
LET ME BE CLEAR: I still eat things that are probably killing me.
But I make an effort to balance that badness with SOME better-for-me substitutions.
It’s like having a cigarette and then running a mile.
No it’s not! Don’t listen to me!
Former smokers still have bad days.
Where were we?
Last summer, my obsession with Food Babe altered many of my eating habits.
I literally threw away unopened bags of chocolate chips. In the garbage.
Why throw them away and not give them to a family member?
Because they were “TOXIC” and I wasn’t about to hand my mom a bag of poison.
That brand of chocolate chips eventually made its way back into my cupboard.
And those chips currently huddle in pantry darkness, waiting to be transformed into a delicious, toxic confection.
Though I slipped back into some old habits, many of last summer’s dietary changes stuck.
Here are some GENERAL, permanent, Vani-inspired changes. May these also serve as a harbinger for your future, should you decide to start reading Vani’s stuff…
…I rarely eat dairy (except when I’m doing the Military Diet). Cheese, animal milk, yogurt…I hardly consume these things. Mostly because I don’t bother to buy organic versions of them. Ice cream, however, I cannot avoid. I try. I slow-roll past the frozen section and crane my neck for the sweets. I usually resist stopping. Then I whine about ice cream for five days until Husband buys me $8 Ben & Jerry’s from a gas station on his way home. Yay!
…I eat leafy greens and vegetables all. the. time. Any meal that doesn’t include a heaping mound of greens feels wrong to eat. I slowly started incorporating more of them into my meals, and now they’re a staple. Except when I’m feeling ill. Then all my vegetables taste like limp cardboard.
…anything stamped “USDA Organic” is nearly impossible for me to resist. Organics are important! But make sure you still read labels.
…I read labels on everything. I don’t understand them, but I read them.
…I am OBSESSED with goji berries. Obsessed. I am smiling right now, just thinking about them. They make me so happy. They affect who I am.
Those are general dietary shifts. Below, I’ve listed SPECIFIC changes I’ve permanently implemented into my life.
The research backs each change up. Google them/click on my links if you don’t believe me. Or check out foodbabe.com! She’ll make you want to burn your kitchen down, but with good reason.
Here are some simple healthy substitutions you can make in your own pantry/fridge:
- Replace cow milk with almond milk. Why? Because you can never be too sure how hormone-y your cow’s milk is. Plus, if you’re drinking milk for the Vitamin D, most store-bought almond milks have just as much, if not more.
- Replace vegetable/canola oil and butter with coconut oil in cooking/recipes. Coconut oil is way better for you than all of those other overly-processed oils.
- Replace normal extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with organic EVOO. Because go organic!
- Replace imitation vanilla extract with organic bourbon vanilla. Did you know that “pure vanilla extract” can only be labeled as such if it contains 35% alcohol? Pure vanilla doesn’t taste like imitation (which I grew up with and loved for a long time), so if you make this switch, don’t go crazy with it (like I do) until you’re sure you like it.
- Make homemade pancake and waffle mix. Mystery ingredients disappear when you make it yourself. Plus, homemade recipes have room for flax seed/hemp seeds/chia seeds/oatmeal.
- If it’s not organic or homemade, don’t dress your salads with it. I use a bland mixture of water + EVOO + balsamic vinegar/apple cider vinegar/lemon juice (and oregano, if I’m feeling fancy). My salad flavor comes from organic cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, walnuts, hulled sunflower seeds, gogi berries, mulberries, etc.
- Substitute raw honey for corn syrup. Prior to my food overhaul, I’d never been a huge fan of honey, but I’m learning to like it. Especially in my Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheerios recipe.
- Substitute white whole wheat flour for all-purpose (AP) flour. Compared to regular whole wheat flour, white whole wheat is finer and milder in taste (and thus easier to use in place of AP flour). White whole wheat flour has just as many nutrients as regular whole wheat flour, though! And any whole wheat flour has more nutrition than AP flour.
- Use white whole wheat flour (or regular WW flour) to make your own tortilla shells. No more dough conditioners for you! There are a million recipes out there for homemade tortilla shells. Check out my NOM How-Tos Pinterest board for ideas. I make homemade tortillas all the time and LOVE them. Sometimes, I roll the dough too thin and the tortilla becomes thin and crunchy when I cook it in my non-stick pan. When that happens, I break the tortilla into pieces and call those pieces homemade whole wheat tortilla chips.
- Use white whole wheat flour to make your own pizza dough. Use Cookie and Kate’s recipe for whole wheat pizza dough. Her recipe is delicious and it freezes well. While you’re at it, make her Kale Pesto Pizza, because it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever eat in your life.
- Substitute pure maple syrup for honey if you’re a strict vegan and/or you hate honey. PURE maple syrup. Not that fake, dyed, delicious corn syrup pancake crap. Learn to love the pure.
- Make homemade taco seasoning. No more mystery ingredients! Everyone who’s tried my tacos made with homemade seasoning is obsessed. Make yours homemade! You’ll never go back to store-bought again, and your friends won’t stop raving about your culinary taco genius. I’ll post my homemade taco seasoning recipe for you tomorrow!
- Make your own hummus. Because you can put whatever you want in there. It’s so easy to make hummus. All you need is a blender/food processor, chickpeas, EVOO, and vegetables/seasonings. I recently made some hummus with black beans, chickpeas, EVOO, some organic “Tahini Goddess” salad dressing from Aldi’s, tons of cilantro, tons of lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and oregano. DELICIOUS. I ran out of Triscuits, so I started eating it with saltines. It’s THAT good. LOVE homemade hummus.
There you have them! Nice, simple substitutions that will health-ify your diet.
I make all of these changes so I can eat chocolate. And movie theater popcorn. And store-bought cake. And Ben & Jerry’s. I’m working toward my happy-medium.
Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss tomorrow’s homemade taco seasoning post!
What kind of substitutions do you make in your own kitchen? Please tell me in the comments so I can incorporate them into my life!