What is one thing I can do right now for my health?
As a dietitian, I get this question a lot. In fact, it may be one of my favorites. Why? Because eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated! While everyone’s diets will look different, there are certain recommendations that can benefit everyone: cooking for yourself more, limiting sugar, and adding more nutrient-dense foods (hello fruits & veggies) are just a few. But the easiest way to eat a little better? Make these five simple food swaps.
Toast → Sweet Potato Toast
Sweet potato provides a nutrient-dense and gluten-free alternative to traditional bread. Top it with protein and healthy fats and you have a delicious and nourishing meal or snack. While you can simply slice the sweet potato into ¼-inch thick slices and toast, depending on the strength of your toaster, it may take a few cycles for the sweet potato to be fully cooked.
To make this a quick and easy breakfast option, try parbaking a large batch of sweet potato slices over the weekend. When ready for breakfast, simply toast until golden brown and add your favorite toppings.
Sweet Potato Toast Topping Ideas
- Almond butter with cinnamon and cacao nibs
- Avocado, a fried egg egg, and arugula
- Ricotta cheese with honey drizzle
- Avocado, roasted bell peppers, tempeh
- Dijon mustard, pickled onions, smoked salmon
Pizza → Socca Flatbread
Socca is a naturally gluten-free flatbread that makes an excellent base for your favorite pizza toppings. Made from chickpea flour, socca is higher in protein and fiber than a traditional pizza crust and is quite easy to make. If you have a high powered blender, you can make your own chickpea flour by grinding dried chickpeas.
While we also love cauliflower crust as a healthy and gluten-free pizza option, socca is a great choice if you have other food allergies or sensitivities, such as eggs and dairy.
Socca Flatbread Recipe
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. chopped rosemary
- Pizza toppings of your choice
Whisk together flour, water, oil, salt, and rosemary until combined. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes or up to 12 hours on the counter. Place cast iron skillet in oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
Once ready, add 1-2 Tbsp. oil and swirl to coat entire pan. Add batter and place back in oven to cook for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on the sides. Remove from oven, add your toppings, and return to the oven until toppings are cooked through.
Cereal → Overnight Oats
While cereal may be a convenient breakfast, most brands are high in sugar and lacking in protein and fiber. This combination is a perfect recipe for that mid-morning energy crash. If you’re looking for a quick, out-the-door breakfast option that will also stabilize blood sugar and provide sustained energy, overnight oats are a much better option.
Set aside 5 minutes the night before to prep the overnight oats and choose your toppings to provide a balance of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Overnight Oats Recipe
- ½ cup milk of choice
- ¾ tsp. chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp. nut butter
- ½ cup rolled oats
- Toppings of choice (yogurt, berries, walnuts, shredded coconut, etc)
Place all ingredients (except toppings) in a mason jar or small bowl and mix until well combined. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add your toppings and enjoy.
Pasta → Lentil or Chickpea Pasta
Pasta is often a quick and convenient weeknight dinner, yet most are made from refined carbohydrates that will leave you feeling hungry within an hour or so. Swap regular pasta for a lentil or chickpea version to boost protein and fiber and provide a more satisfying meal. Try mixing zucchini noodles in with the cooked pasta to make the meal even more nutrient dense.
Here are some of our favorite lentil and chickpea pasta brands:
- Banza chickpea pasta
- Trader Joe’s red lentil pasta
- Chickpea Pasta
- Thrive Market chickpea pasta
- Ancient Harvest red lentil pasta
Store Bought → Homemade
One of the simplest acts you can do for your health is to make homemade meals. Cooking connects us with our food, our family, our community, and our planet. It also allows us to control both the quality and amount of ingredients in our food. Home cooked meals also tend to be lower in fat, sodium, sugar, and total calories, and higher in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
In addition to swapping prepared for homemade meals, try making your own foundational foods, such as granola and salad dressings. These are simple to make and are often much more nutrient dense than their store-bought counterparts.
Skillet Nut & Seed Granola
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup cashews
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- Sea salt
- Cayenne (optional)
Heat coconut oil and maple syrup over medium-high heat. Add nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, and a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, and (optional) cayenne. Stir until lightly golden. Remove from heat and spread out on parchment paper to cool.