These 7 simple swaps are brought to you from the new e-book A Happier, Healthier You by dietitian Stacey Hogan, which launched on Amazon last month and reached the number 1 best seller spot in several categories. It is full of delicious and simple 30-minute meals that will nourish your body and improve your health, well-being and mood. Download your FREE kindle-edition copy here.
These tips are great for exploring different ingredients and healthy alternatives that nourish the body without sacrificing flavor:
1. Nutritional yeast (instead of cheese)
Despite its somewhat unappealing appearance and the fact that the name itself doesn’t exactly scream “eat me, I’m delicious’, this could be one of the best additions to your diet in terms of nutrition and taste. It makes such a fantastic alternative to cheese and provides a wealth of vitamins, minerals and protein. This gluten free and vegan, plant based source of protein provides 4 grams of fibre per serving and a significant amount of zinc, selenium and iron.
Turn these tangy, cheesy, flakes of flavour into edible bliss by using it in place of parmesan, to make delicious cheese sauces, pizza toppings or as an addition to your favourite omelette.
2. Nuts (instead of croutons)
Nuts are one of the most versatile and nutritious foods on the planet, so much so, that a handful of nuts a day can increase your life span by years. Croutons have a negligible amount of nutrition in comparison, which is more reason to include nuts in your soups and salads.
They all have their own special mix of nutrients and associated health benefits so keep changing the type of nuts that you add, this is a great excuse to experiment and find your favourite mix of flavours.
If you have a nut allergy, or if they just don’t do it for you then you could also try roasted chickpeas, homemade veggie crisps or seeds which are all gluten free too.
3. Cinnamon (instead of sugar)
Cinnamon is a well-known and much loved spice, however it’s not commonly thought of as a replacement for sugar. It’s packed with nutrition such as fibre, calcium and iron amongst others and studies have indicated potential health benefits which include stabilising glucose levels, reducing cholesterol and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
There are a couple of ways to incorporate cinnamon as a replacement for sugar and these are sprinkling some on your porridge or in your tea/coffee. Just make sure that you get Ceylon cinnamon as this is known as the “real cinnamon” which possesses outstanding health benefits especially for the diabetics, those challenged by obesity or with high cholesterol issues!
If you’re not a fan of cinnamon then some other nutritionally superior alternatives to sugar are coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup.
4. Coconut aminos (instead of soy sauce)
Soy sauce has that distinctly unique salty flavour that is hard to replicate, especially if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative. Enter coconut aminos. This sweet, salty and delicious alternative is not only gluten free but vegan, raw, nut free, soy free and dairy free too.
Coconut aminos is made from natural sea salt and coconut sap. As the name suggests it contains a high level of amino acids (17 to be exact) which studies have shown can contribute to better digestive health, heart health and mood stabilisation.
Another alternative to soy sauce is tamari, which does contain a higher level of protein than soy sauce and a healthy dose of the mood enhancing tryptophan. However it is still quite high in sodium and doesn’t have the same level of nutrition as coconut aminos. Watch out for some tamari sauces as they can contain wheat too, so be sure to look for a wheat free version that will fit with a gluten-free diet.
5. Quinoa (instead of rice and pasta)
This light, nutty seed is a complete protein and makes a great alternative to rice and pasta. It is often referred to as a ‘super food’ as it’s packed with protein, fibre and various vitamins and minerals. It has about twice the protein of other grains, fewer carbohydrates, and healthier fats. It also contains all 9 essential amino acids too.
Enjoy this delicious, nutty flavour in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes, it is often used as an alternative to white rice and pasta. One of our favourite ways to eat quinoa is for breakfast. Quinoa porridge is so simple to make and super tasty too, it’s rich, creamy and health-enhancing. Simply replace porridge oats with rinsed quinoa and cook in a saucepan with milk/almond milk, cinnamon, honey and your choice of toppings.
6. Flaxseed (instead of breadcrumbs)
Turn your meals into a gold mine of omega-3 fatty acids by incorporating flaxseed into them. You only need 2 tablespoons to reach your RDA and they make an excellent healthy alternative to breadcrumbs, for us it’s a wonder food. We use ground flaxseeds to coat fish, chicken, courgette fries and lots of other veggies.
Flaxseeds also contains fibre, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin E and are low in saturated fat.
7. Ground almonds (instead of flour)
Almonds are as versatile as the next nut and they have an impressive nutrient profile which includes a substantial amount of magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, protein and fibre. Ground almonds are a great substitute for the nutritionally inferior flour.
Although almonds are high in fat, they are high in the good fats (90% mono and polyunsaturated fats to be more accurate) which is something that not only your body needs, but also helps reduce the risk of heart disease too. The studies performed on almonds, thus far, have indicated that potential health benefits include reduced risk of colon cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol.
Due to their versatility, you should have no problems including almonds into your diet and you’d be nuts not to.
If you have an allergy, or if almonds are just not to your taste you could also try buckwheat, arrowroot or tapioca flour which are all gluten free.