6 Easy and Healthy Substitutes for Every Day

Eating healthy always seems to fall just behind everything else on your priority list. Yes, you could make yourself a salad, but you could also just heat up the huge batch of pasta you made on Sunday and take a nap. But what if I told you you could have BOTH? Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a lot of work as long as you know how to prepare it! Here are a few ideas of healthy substitutes that can make nutrition less of a chore.

1. Try zucchini noodles instead of pasta

I know this sounds complicated, but it’s SUPER easy (honestly, this is easier for me than making pasta). Take a zucchini and slice however you want. Because I like to make these a lot, I use a spiralizer, which turns the zucchini into pasta-like ribbons. However, they taste just as good sliced up any other way. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and microwave them for 2 minutes. And you’re done! Mix it with any of your favorite sauces and you get all the flavors you would with pasta, but with way less calories and a lot more nutrients.

2. Whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta (or bread, bagels, English muffins, etc.)

If you’re a huge fan of pasta, and bread in general, try making the change to whole wheat! Whole wheat breads contain a lot more protein and fiber than white breads, so this is an easy switch you can make to up your nutrition. A lot of wheat products end up being more flavorful because of the added seeds, too.

3. Greek yogurt with a little honey or fruit instead of sugary yogurt

While I’m not a huge yogurt fan, many of my friends swear by Greek yogurt in the morning. Most normal yogurts are full of refined sugars that make them more like desserts than a satisfying breakfast. By mixing tart Greek yogurt with fruits or a little honey, you can have a sweet breakfast with way less sugar (and natural sugar at that) that fulfills your cravings.

4. Buying a big jar of instant oats and heating them up in the microwave, then topping it with cinnamon, nuts, or berries rather than instant oatmeal

Instant oatmeal from the package always has WAY too much sugar than it needs. By simply buying the larger container of instant oats and heating them up in a bowl yourself, you can control the amount of sugar going into your bowl. I love to put cinnamon in my oatmeal with blueberries or apples, or a little bit of PB2 (read below) for a more filling meal. Even though this sounds like more work, it takes MAYBE 30 seconds more to scoop the oats out of the container yourself.

5. Natural peanut butters or powders

Peanut butter SHOULD be good for you, but so many brands fill it with sugar and oil that it becomes more of source of fat than protein. By using natural brands or powders like PB2, you cut out most of the unhealthy parts of peanut butter and just get what’s actually good for you. I personally swear by PB2. It comes in chocolate and regular, and the fact that it’s powdered makes it super easy to add to smoothies, oatmeal, or anything else your heart desires! And the best part: the regular version has 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar, and 5 grams of protein per serving!

6. Avocado instead of salad dressing or sandwich spread

Salad dressings and sandwich spreads tend to be full of unhealthy fats that actually make your attempted healthy meal bad for you. Avocados are (1) amazing and (2) full of healthy fats that are good for you to eat! Honestly, this is another excuse to include avocado in your diet, so why not just go for it.

In general, no matter what you swap, aim to minimize sugar intake (particularly refined sugars; this is anything that’s not naturally sweet, like cake or white bread) and trans fat intake, while upping your fiber and protein. Of course, this is a very general statement, but I have found it pretty helpful for when you’re just trying to clean up your diet a little bit. Make sure to always look at nutrition labels before you buy something: making healthy choices is easy when you can see the difference right in front of you!

 

Photos courtesy of AshleyNeese.com, Appforhealth.com, Foodbabe.com, and Cookdiary.net respectively.