Spring is in full effect, so hopefully, you’ve begun the process of spring cleaning your home and life — and don’t forget the kitchen. One great place to do a spring cleaning is your pantry. Here are five swaps you can make to ensure you’re taking the rights steps toward a healthier diet at home.
Swap out …
Lentil pasta for white pasta
Sometimes you’re just craving pasta, and the good news is that there are plenty of healthier options available on the market now. Lentil pasta, sometimes made from black beans, red beans or even chickpeas is getting more and more popular, and it is full of valuable nutrients and has significantly more protein than processed white-flour pasta. It cooks just like regular pasta, looks like regular pasta and has a pretty similar texture too, with just a trace of a lentil taste. Grab a bag of Trader Joe’s red lentil pasta or Eat Banza’s chickpea pasta for your next meal, and you’ll enjoy a high-protein serving of legumes, giving your body more fiber and less carbs than white pasta, so you’ll stay fuller longer.
Pink Himalayan sea salt for table salt
Everybody loves to add a little flavoring to your food, but you want to do it in the healthiest way. Pure pink Himalayan sea salt is one of the cleanest and purest salts you can find and it contains a ton of trace minerals, unlike traditional processed table salt, which contains only one mineral— sodium. Pink Himalayan sea salt comes in larger crystals, so you can actually use a bit less to season your food, and it’s said to help with digestion, balance the body’s pH levels and much more.
Stevia or honey for Splenda or Sweet ’n Low
While you may think choosing the no-calorie option like Splenda or Sweet ’n Low is a good idea when you’re trying to be healthy, in fact, both of these artificial sweeteners can actually cause negative effects in your body. Artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, are chemicals and are made to make your tongue think you are eating sugar when you’re not. And research has shown that artificial sweeteners can mess with the good bacteria in your gut, making you more susceptible to illness. In addition, these intensely flavored chemicals can actually alter your sweet receptors, in turn making you crave more sweets.
However, real raw local honey is 100 percent natural and also has some antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Although there are calories in honey, when you use it sparingly as a sweetener for your coffee or tea, your body knows how to process it properly. Whole leaf stevia is another natural sweetener, made from a plant. Stevia is also considered a low-calorie food and doesn’t have the side effects of the artificial sweeteners, making it another better choice.
Olive, avocado or coconut oil for vegetable oil
Even though vegetable oil is called vegetable oil, most varieties of it don’t actually contain any vegetables. Vegetable oil, sometimes going under the name of corn, canola, safflower or soy oil, is the cheapest of the oils, and it is made from chemically-treated seeds, legumes and more. Also, it contains the bad kind of fat and it is known to cause inflammation in the body. The better option is nut-based oil — specifically extra virgin olive oil — because it is made directly from olives and contains the good kind of fat and antioxidants. While you shouldn’t cook at a high heat with olive oil due to its low smoke point, you can also choose good-fat containing avocado or coconut oil for your cooking needs to keep things on the healthier side.
Almonds for sugary protein bars
There is an endless amount of processed protein and snack bars on the shelves that claim to be healthy. The bad news is that many of them are not. Rather than risking it with bars that have long ingredients lists and more fat and calories per serving than you want, try snacking on almonds instead. While almonds contain both protein and fat as well as valuable micronutrients, they are quite filling, and without any added sweeteners, you’ll feel satisfied after eating the perfect handful (which is usually 23 almonds, by the way).