10 super easy kitchen swaps to make your meals more nutritious

June 13, 2019

 

Recently in my daily health tips over on Insta stories (yes, there is a new tip every day!) I shared a super easy kitchen swap to make recipes healthier. You all said that was super useful to you, so here we go! My top 10 kitchen swaps to make any recipe more nutritious: 

 

1. White sugar to coconut sugar

This was the original tip, and I will kick off this list with it, because I love it so much. Literally any recipe that calls for white (or brown) sugar can be made with coconut sugar. You can substitute it in a ratio of 1:1, it does not taste coconutty, but because it is less refined it packs much more minerals and vitamins into your dish. Yes, of course it is still sugar, and we shouldn't be eating it all day every day... but isn't that the case for everything?

 

Check out these gingerbread cookies made with coconut sugar.

 

 

2. White flour to whole wheat flour, spelt flour or oat flour 

One of the easiest ways to up your nutrient intake is to take any baking recipe and use whole wheat flour instead of white flour. You can usually do this in a ratio of 1:1 without screwing up the texture too much. Sometimes you may need to add an extra splash of liquid. Even better, use spelt flour instead for a less refined and modified grain or use oat flour for a gluten free version. I love using oat flour, because it still makes baking a success, although your texture may come out slightly flatter and grainier. Play around with this one, but for sure whole wheat and spelt are great first options! 

 

Spelt flour to make pizza dough a success!

 

 

3. White rice to brown rice 

Rice is a staple food for so many countries, and switching from white to brown rice is a no brainer. Brown rice takes slightly longer to cook, and you need the ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 cups water (instead of just 1 cup of water with white rice). The bonus is that brown rice fills you up a lot due to the high fiber content, so you don't even need that much of it! 

 

Brown rice burger patties anyone?

 

 

4. White paste to whole wheat or other grain pasta (try quinoa, brown rice, chickpea, etc)

Another staple food that can easily go from super refined to a much more nutritious meal. There are so many wheat free pasta options out there, try them out, and see which ones you like. Some are a hit and miss, but whole wheat is definitely always an easy option, that will give you the same texture for your dish. When you try to do this with kids, I always suggest to do half white and half whole wheat pasta first to slowly fade them over to the full whole wheat pasta dish. 

 

Brown rice pasta with butternut squash tomato sauce is a match made in heaven

 

 

5. Canola oil (or other refined oils such as peanut, soy, cooking oil, etc) to virgin coconut oil, cold pressed sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil

This is a super easy swap to make any recipe more nutritious and less inflammatory for your entire body. Refined oils are one of the worst culprits for aging our cells faster, as well as have effects on obesity, heart health, gut health, digestion, and so much more. Recently I received a new cook book and the salad dressings called for canola oil (Autocorrect just switched this to cannon oil, which is hilarious, since in my 4 week health kickstarter program I always explain refined oils as little bombs that injure our arteries :-)). A super easy swap to either sesame oil (for Asian cooking) or extra virgin olive oil (for any other cuisine) make the salad so much healthier in an instant. You can even sauté with extra virgin olive oil. For higher temperatures, use sesame or coconut oil. Coconut oil is especially great for baking, and only give your end product a slight hint of coconut taste. Give it a try! 

 

 

Macadamia ginger cookies with 3 of our top ingredients from this list: coconut sugar, coconut oil, and oat flour!

 

 

6. Refined coco powder to raw cacao powder (also cacao nibs for refined chocolate chips) 

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I am totally obsessed with raw chocolate, and the nutrient bomb it provides from iron for anemic women, to calcium for vegans. Subsisting any chocolate related recipe with raw cacao powder instead of refined coco powder is super easy. Again, you can substitute in a ratio of 1:1, and you will get a nutrient dense brownie, chocolate cake or whatever else your heart desires! Little bonus: you can also exchange regular chocolate chips (often made with high fructose corn syrup and refined oils) to cacao nibs, which are the raw broken cacao beans. They are not as sweet, but add a nice little crunch. 

 

Chocolate pancakes for breakfast can be good for you? Absolutely!

 

 

7. Ground flaxseeds (flax meal) for eggs

I've recently written about eggs, and while I don't think that they are all bad for you, I do think that we often don't get good quality eggs. If you don't have pasture raised eggs for your next baking endeavor, use ground flaxseeds instead (you can grind your own in a food processor, you don't need to add another item to your shopping list!). Take 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseeds, whisk with 3 Tbsp water, and let sit for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened. Then use it instead of one egg in a recipe. It works well for baking, of course not so much for meringue or omelette style dishes that require eggs. 

 

Date walnut muffins with ground flaxseeds!

 

 

8. Breadcrumbs to rolled oats

It may seem weird, but give it a try. I never have breadcrumbs at home when a recipe calls for them. Occasionally I make them myself by throwing some dried bread (put torn pieces of bread in the oven for 10 minutes or so) in the food processor, but I have found an even easier way to deal with this problem that also makes the whole meal more nutritious: use rolled oats instead. 

 

Rolled oats are my favorite - I have dedicated an entire ebook to them. 

 

 

9. Buttermilk to plant milk + apple cider vinegar 

While it seems very obvious to switch regular milk to plant based milk such as coconut or almond, it becomes much more difficult when your recipe calls for buttermilk (for example for pancakes or waffles). When I lived in Asia, it was impossible to find buttermilk anywhere, so I have used this little trick forever, even before I cut out regular dairy products. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, take 1 cup of plant based milk, and add 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for a few minutes until the milk curdles and becomes slightly sour. Then continue with your recipe. 

 

I just realized I don't have a recipe on the blog with "apple cider vinegar buttermilk". What should I make for you?!

 

 

10. Any whole grain or bean for another grain or bean 

While this isn't actually a swap to make a meal healthier, it is a swap to make your life easier! Use whatever you have in your kitchen ready to go. If a recipe calls for brown rice and all you have is quinoa, use quinoa. If your hummus wants chickpeas but you've got black beans, use those and see what amazingness you just created. Don't be afraid to use what you have instead of constantly adding to your shopping list. 

 

Check out more tips on making food prep easier here.

 

 

That is it from me today. I hope these little tips will help you in your kitchen! 

 

Lots of love, 

 

 

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© 2019 Martina Zand