8 Simple Ingredient Swaps to Try in the New Year

Looking to jumpstart healthier habits, but not quite ready for a complete dietary overhaul? Small, consistent changes over time can lead to a sustainably healthier lifestyle. With a bit of patience, increased knowledge, and awareness, you’ll be off to a healthier start to the year before you know it.

Below are eight simple nutritious swaps that take minimal effort, but give you a big bang for your (health) buck.

Instead of half and half, go for coconut milk or cashew cream while cooking. If you’re looking to minimize dairy in your diet or try something new, swap heavy cream and half and half with full-fat coconut milk or cashew cream. Both of these substitutes result in a super creamy sauce or soup consistency. Try it out in this recipe for Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Cream Sauce and Roasted Carrot Butternut Squash Soup.

Instead of mayonnaise, try tahini, hummus or avocado. There’s nothing like a delicious scoop of chicken or tuna salad from the deli, but chances are, it’s loaded with mayo. Make your own version at home and swap the mayo for tahini, hummus, or mashed avocado. This swap will boost the healthy fats in your diet, which aids in the absorption of nutrients in the body. Try out this recipe for “No Tuna” Chickpea Salad.

Instead of cheese, sprinkle on some nutritional yeast. Looking for that cheesy flavor, but trying to reduce the amount of cheese on your plate? Go for nutritional yeast! This superfood is a fabulous source of B vitamins and has a nutty, cheesy-like flavor. One tablespoon provides around five grams of protein. Sprinkle it on veggies, stir into dressings, or use it in this recipe for 15-Minute Pumpkin Mac and Cheese.

Instead of an egg, try a flax egg (for a plant-based alternative). To make a flax egg, combine one tablespoon ground flaxseed with three tablespoons water in a small bowl. Set aside for a few minutes until gummy. The flax egg doesn’t get quite the same “rise” as an egg would in baked goods, but acts as a binder when combined with other ingredients. Try it out in this Moroccan-spiced cauliflower quinoa burger recipe.

Instead of sugar, sprinkle in some cinnamon. Hear me out on this one. It’s a sweet spice that gives the appearance of sugar without raising your blood sugar levels, and is full of antioxidants. Sprinkle cinnamon into your coffee grounds before brewing or warming bowl of oatmeal for a no-sugar-added “sweetened” treat!

Instead of brown sugar, swap for coconut sugar. Still not over holiday baking? Coconut sugar is nutty in flavor and low-glycemic, meaning it won’t lead to an energy crash and burn unlike its highly processed cousin, brown sugar. Try it out in this recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (gluten-free and vegan-friendly).

Instead of all-purpose flour, go for equal parts almond flour and oat flour. All-purpose flour is highly processed in which virtually all nutrients are removed from the wheat bran. A good substitute is equal parts almond flour (higher in protein and healthy fats) and oat flour (higher in fiber). You can make your own oat flour by pulsing rolled oats in the blender until powdery in texture. Try out this gluten-free and more nutritious swap in this recipe for Superfood Chunky Monkey Banana Bread.

Instead of cocoa powder, try the more antioxidant-rich cacao powder. Cocoa powder is processed with heat, destroying many of the natural nutrients of the cocoa bean along the way. Swap for raw cacao powder which is processed via a cold press method that retains its powerful antioxidants and nutrients. Try it out in this popular recipe for double chocolate sweet potato brownie muffins.

By implementing these simple, nutritious swaps, you’ll be able to clean up your plate with minimal effort without losing out on flavor.

Carly Paige, health coach and cooking instructor, believes that healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Her mission is to show you simple swaps in and out of the kitchen to elevate your everyday that will transform your health. Carly is the author of Simply Swapped Everyday, a healthy guide and cookbook with over 75 plant-powered recipes and founder of FitLiving Eats – a place where she shares nutritious recipes and how-to guides.

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