Healthy Kitchen Ingredient Swaps
Make easy swaps in your kitchen for a healthier diet!
We all have room for improvement in our kitchens. One thing that’s easy to do is make gradual changes by switching one product for another. This can be done for many things in our homes, and is especially useful when it comes to common ingredients.
Butter and Margarine
Butter is not all bad, and if you tolerate dairy and buy a quality grass-fed one, you’re doing fine. But if you are vegan or dairy doesn’t sit well with you, it is time to switch it up! Margarine is a potential vegetarian/vegan option, but it is quite processed and can be made with oils that aren’t very good for us.
Ghee is clarified butter and can be easier on the digestive system than regular butter. Everyone is different, so you will have to try it and see how your body reacts. Ghee is a Whole-30 approved item and can contain some good nutrients. Try to find one that is organic and grass-fed for the most nutrients. Ghee has a stronger, nuttier flavor than butter, so use sparingly. It is delicious on potatoes! It can usually be kept at room temperature, which frees up some space in your fridge.
Coconut oil is a great substitute for many other oils and fats, especially butter. It can have a nice, whipped texture. Coconut oil may be solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on the temperature of your house! It melts very easily and is great for sauteing vegetables on the stove. It has a light, slightly sweet flavor. There are some varieties you can buy that have a less or more strong coconut flavor. Coconut oil is a great option for vegan and plant-based eaters. Coconut oil has a unique type of fat in it that can be really great for your body. You can also use coconut oil on your skin and hair if you want to have a more natural skin care regimen. When shopping for coconut oil, make sure you find a food-grade one. Look for cold-pressed organic virgin unrefined coconut oil.
Canola and Vegetable Oil
Canola and vegetable oils used to be touted as extremely healthy options that are heart-healthy and can reduce saturated fat in your diet. I would definitely tell you to take these out of your kitchen. There are many good swaps for these oils. The main objective would be to find something less processed and that doesn’t go rancid so easily. Many oils have certain cooking temperatures and cannot go beyond these without turning rancid. Canola and vegetable oils are very highly processed and are heat-treated, which alters the fats in them. They may even contain trans fats, which are known to be unhealthy. If you’d like to see for yourself, just do some google searching to see why these oils are bad for you. Their processing is unnatural and can contain harmful substances. The fat ratio that they have of omegas can also be very unhealthy.
Olive oil is a good option, but is not the best option for high roasting temperatures in the oven. Olive oil has been used for years and is one of the major elements in the Mediterranean diet. It is definitely great when used uncooked in salad dressings or dips and can be used in many applications of light cooking. Different oils have amazing flavors that go deliciously with certain dishes. When shopping for olive oil, look for the less refined ones and an extra virgin one. What you choose may depend on how you want to use the oil and how strong you want the flavor to be. There are many articles about how to choose the best olive oil, if it is something you’re interested in.
Avocado oil is another great option over many common kitchen oils. It has a high smoke point, meaning it can be used for high-heat cooking, like roasting in the oven. Avocados are full of healthy fat and can be used in many recipes themselves. Avocado oil has a light flavor and isn’t as strong as many other oils listed here, so it’s a good option if you are worried about strong flavors impacting your food. If you buy cooking spray, look for a new one next time that only has oil and no fillers or dispersing agents in it. There are several made with coconut, olive, and avocado oils that are healthier options.
Soy sauce is not the worst of ingredients, but it can contain a whopping serving of sodium. It also contains wheat, which might be a surprise to some people. So if you are following a gluten-free diet, soy sauce needs to be replaced by something else. If you are okay with soy protein, you can just buy a lower sodium soy sauce and that option should help you.
Tamari is a great option for those looking for gluten-free or wheat-free options. Just make sure you read the label to ensure that it doesn’t contain any wheat, because there are some different versions. You can also find lower sodium tamari sauces. Unless you have an especially keen palate, tamari and soy sauce can be used interchangeably .
Another good substitute for soy sauce is coconut aminos. It is a lower sodium option than soy sauce and is good for those who cannot tolerate soy. Coconut aminos is a good Paleo option. This option is great for sauces and marinades, but doesn’t have as strong a flavor as tamari or soy sauce. When choosing any of these options, it’s best to go with organic if possible and always read the labels.
Fruit Juice and Soda
Fruit juice is not the worst thing you could be drinking, but it is highly sugary and is devoid of fiber. This means it can spike your blood sugar, which you don’t want. If you make your own juice at home, include some veggies in it too. Smoothies containing the whole fruit are a better option for most circumstances, because they will also contain the fiber the fruit/veggie offers. If you’re not ready to part ways with store-bought juice, just make sure you’re purchasing 100% juice that doesn’t have any added sugars in it. Eating whole fruits is the better option here, because you are getting all the nutrients and fiber, and the sugar levels aren’t as high.
Soda is something that you need to cut out of your diet if you want to lose weight, improve your health, or stabilize your blood sugar levels. There literally isn’t anything beneficial in soda. All of its ingredients can be harmful and it contains such high levels of sugar. Some bottles of soda contain over 60 g of sugar, which means if you drink the whole bottle in one sitting, you just downed about 14 teaspoons of sugar. That’s a lot! But the sodas with artificial sweeteners aren’t much better. I would advise staying away from those as well. If you’re hooked on either of these types of sodas, it would be in your best interest to try to get them out of your diet for good.
One great replacement for many sweetened and flavored beverages is kombucha. This is a stretch for some people, but it can be a very beneficial drink. Most of them do have a very tart, tangy, or sour flavor, but there are some less severe options. There is one brand of kombucha flavored to mimic popular sodas, so this can be a good option for switching over. Kombucha is fermented tea, and sometimes has fruit juices added to it. The main benefit to drinking kombucha is the probiotic strains it carries. This natural bacteria can help with the health of your gut. Since kombucha is fermented, it naturally contains some sugar and alcohol, so bear that in mind before consuming. Look for one that’s locally made if available, and try to find the ones with the lowest sugar content. Have fun trying various flavors. It is super-bubbly and can help wake you up mid-afternoon. Kombucha is definitely not for everyone, but it can be a great drink to have in your diet.
Another, less harsh, substitute is sparkling water. There are tons of brands and flavors of sparkling water. Look for ones that don’t have any artificial colors or flavorings. Also try to avoid the sweetened ones if possible. Stray away from those artificial sweeteners. Sparkling water is a great option if you miss that carbonated feel of soda. There are tons of tasty fruity flavors to choose from. If you are wanting something with flavor, but not the bubbles, try adding essential oils or slices of fruit into your water. This can be super-healthy and give you some added vitamins when drinking water.
Please contact me if you have any questions. Make sure to talk to your medical provider before making any drastic changes to your diet. Some medications interact with certain foods, etc. and can cause unpleasant reactions. If you are confused about how to choose the best options for your diet and lifestyle, please do some research or contact me. You can set up an appointment to talk to me, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in essential oils, I can help guide and educate you in your journey of selecting the right ones. Not all are able to be ingested, so please use caution and do research before purchasing and using them. As always, read the labels on anything you’re buying to consume! Feel free to email me if you want to learn more about anything discussed here. Thanks for reading and happy eating!