15 Easy Pantry Upgrades for a Healthier 2018
Getting healthy and losing weight isn't about deprivation, denial, or eating less: Eating healthy is all about eating smart.
Simply Avocado instead of processed condiments
Avocadoes are great and healthier than you realize: They’re full of good-for-you fats that work to boost nutrient absorption of vitamins A, D, E, K—and they’re delicious. The only flaw—once you slice one open and eat half, you’re left with a second half that’ll quickly brown. “I love that Simply Avocado lets you eat as much avocado at a time as you want without worrying about how to pack it or wasting what you don’t use,” says Sammi Haber, MS, RD, CDN of Nutrition Works NY. They do the hard work by peeling and blending avocado with nothing but simple ingredients—Haas avocados and sea salt, for example—and zero preservatives, and then put the blend in a resealable container. With Simply Avocado there’s no need for any processed, sodium-filled condiments.
Gr8nola instead of processed, sugar-added granolas
Granola sounds good and healthy, but unless you make your own from scratch—here’s how—more often than not it’s filled with high amounts of added sugars and processed ingredients. “These blends are made only with ingredients like whole grain oats, nuts, flaxseed, and cinnamon making them a great option for the health-conscious consumer who is trying to avoid hydrogenated palm oils, high fructose corn syrups, and GMO’s, all of which are often found in granolas,” say The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT. “At five grams Gr8nola is also lower in sugar than most granolas which usually have 10-15 grams… more than some desserts!” They recommend keeping portions in check by adding a couple teaspoons of Gr8nola on top of yogurt, sliced fruit, cottage cheese, or pre-portioning in re-sealable bags for a sweet, crunchy snack.
GG Crackers instead of bread and grains
GG Crackers are a low calorie, high-fiber crispbread that you can use in place of bread and grains. The original GG cracker flavor is 20 calories per cracker with four grams of fiber. It’s made only with wheat bran, whole grain rye flour, and salt. “They’re a source of carbohydrates and work to fill you up without filling you out,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD and founder of the F-Factor Diet. “Fiber absorbs and removes fat and calories and boosts metabolism, which also aids weight loss efforts.” Zuckerbrot recommends pairing these crackers with protein to help keep you feeling fuller, longer.
Halo Top instead of ice cream
The Nutrition Twins say this one is a personal favorite and one they often recommend to clients looking to keep their sweet tooth in check. “Halo Top is a lightened-up, decadent-tasting dessert making it a fantastic swap for calorie-loaded indulgences like ice cream. Each flavor has just 60-90 calories per serving with six grams of protein and three grams of fiber, all of which work to prevent sugar highs and crashes and keep blood sugar stable.” Check out these other healthy supermarket finds.
Cassava Crunch instead of potato chips
“Cassava Crunch is made from vegetables and all real ingredients, which is always a plus,” says Haber. You’ll get the same crunch as you would a regular chip, but with added nutrients. Plus Cassava Crunch is gluten- and grain-free. Note that while these are lower in fat, sodium, and sugar and have a cleaner list of ingredients than most crunchy alternatives, they’re just as high in calories; if you’re watching your waistline, eat these in moderation.
PB2 instead of peanut butter
Everyone loves peanut butter—seriously, it’s one of our secret ingredients for great cookies. That’s where PB2 can come in handy: It’s an all-natural powdered peanut butter made by removing the fat and oil from the peanuts and resulting in 85 percent fewer fat calories than traditional peanut butter. “The addition of peanut butter in a recipe can add fat and calories rapidly, making PB2 the perfect healthy swap,” says Zuckerbrot. “The powder can be mixed with water to create peanut butter, or used as a flavor like other powders in smoothies, cookies, or truffles—the original flavor has just 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat compared with Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, which has 190 calories and 16 grams of fat!”
Surkin Fiber Syrup instead of maple syrup
You’re always trying to get more fiber—here are several ways to squeeze it into your diet. But we bet you never thought you’d get your fiber fix from syrup—but you can. One hundred percent of your daily requirement, in fact, thanks to Sunkin Syrup Gold. “If you want to get prebiotic fiber to nourish your good gut bacteria from an untraditional source, this low-calorie and low-carb, honey and syrup alternative is a unique way to get it while flavoring your pancakes, desserts, coffee, teas, etc.,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Unlike many syrups that are full of preservatives, this syrup has no artificial additives, colors or preservatives and is made from a plant fiber that provides the prebiotic fiber.”
Kite Hill instead of dairy cheese
You don’t need a dairy allergy or intolerance to fall head over heels for Kite Hill vegan cheese. The almond-milk-based products taste amazing while boasting a clean list of good-for-you ingredients. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN singles out their ricotta and cream cheese for being particularly great. “I like that the ingredients list for both is short and you get some protein in the products because of the almonds. The ricotta, for instance, supplies three grams of protein per ounce and the cream cheese contains fewer calories and fat when compared to traditional cream cheese.” Here are some more great vegan meal ideas.
Chosen Foods Coconut Oil Spray instead of cooking spray
Coconut oil is surprisingly versatile—here are some uses for coconut oil you probably never thought about. It also makes a great cooking oil. Chosen Foods Coconut Oil Spray makes it easy to use coconut oil in a spray form, which means you can use just a little bit of oil to bring down the calories in a dish. “This is a good alternative to traditional coconut oil—it has no chemicals or propellants,” says Gorin. The only ingredient is non-GMO coconut oil.
The Real Coconut instead of corn tortilla chips
For starters, The Real Coconut’s tortilla chips and wraps are allergy-friendly. “If you have celiac disease or if you have dairy, gluten, or wheat allergies or intolerances, you can feel confident that you can safely enjoy these without worrying since they’re made from coconut flour,” say The Nutrition Twins. “The Real Coconut’s products are also organic and free from refined sugars.”
Muuna Cottage Cheese instead of flavored dairy yogurt
Ever consider cottage cheese as part of a great post-workout snack? Now you will. Plus, says Gorin: “Muuna Cottage Cheese is the creamiest cottage cheese! With the individually portioned Muuna Fruit on the Bottom, I get that creaminess I’m craving, but with less sugar and a lot more protein, which helps to keep me full.” She recommends topping your serving with berries and crushed nuts for a healthier twist on a traditional sundae.
Kind Fruit Bites instead of gummy snacks
These Kind Fruit Bites are bite-size fruit bites made with just fruit and no added sugar. Each pouch is equal to one serving of fruit and they come in portion-controlled packs so you avoid over-eating (don’t fall for these over-eating traps!). “The pieces are bite-size, so they’re great for a movie theater snack—and they hit that sweet spot while being a much healthier choice than candy,” says Gorin.
Health Warrior instead of food bars
Energy bars can be a nutrition-and-calorie trap unless you’re making your own bars—here’s how. Don’t have time? Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Nutritious Life and The Nutrition School recommends Health Warrior if you’re looking for a superfood-filled food bar. “Their 110-calorie bars are made with chia seeds, which is a great source of omega-3’s and fiber.” Their various flavors also feature a variety of health-boosting ingredients like turmeric and cinnamon.
Carrington Farms Ghee instead of olive oil and butter
Certified Integrative Nutrition health coach and yoga instructor Kerri Axelrod likes Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Oil & Ghee as an olive oil alternative because it has a very high smoke point, making it extremely easy to cook with over high heat. “In ancient Ayurveda traditions, ghee is known to provide clarity of mind and sound digestions as it contains vitamins A, D, and E which are essential for your eye, bone, and blood health and it’s an anti-inflammatory fat that keeps your gut lining and metabolism in good shape.” Ghee also is a great swap for butter in baking since it’s free of whey, casein, and lactose, which many types of butter and shortening contain.
Delighted by Hummus Brownie Batter Hummus instead of a brownie
This Brownie Batter Hummus is a good alternative if you’re looking for a healthier sweet treat. “The main ingredient is chickpeas, which are a great source of protein and fiber,” says Axelrod. “The fiber helps you to feel full, making you less likely to continue snacking throughout the day. It only contains four grams of sugar per serving, which is what I generally recommend as your limit when purchasing packaged products (many packaged sweet products contain upwards of 20 grams).”