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Promoting safe and nutritious food selection, preparation and storage practices.

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Nutrition Resource Centre

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Top 10 Healthy Ingredient Swaps

Top 10 Healthy Ingredient Swaps
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Cara Rosenbloom, RD. Thank you for submitting!
 
Let’s face it – lifestyle changes can be difficult to make and hard to stick with. That’s why small changes are recommended, so they don’t upset your routine too much. When it comes to improving your eating habits, little steps can add up to big rewards for your health.
 
Improving the quality of your food choices is a big change, but not if you take one step at a time. Here are some ingredient substitutions that you can make, which will enrich your meals with nourishing, nutrient-dense foods. The best part? The changes are so small that you will hardly notice the difference – but you’ll be making great strides to becoming a healthier you. 
 
1. Instead of iceberg lettuce…
Try romaine lettuce: with the same tell-tale crunch as iceberg, romaine is great for salads or sandwiches. Its darker green shade means it’s higher in vitamins A and C.
 
2. Instead of sweet soda pop…
Try carbonated water with a squeeze of citrus, some mint leaves or a cinnamon stick. Every can of pop you replace will remove 10 teaspoons of needless sugar from your diet.
 
3. Instead of regular ground beef…
Try extra lean ground beef: perfect for burgers and Shepherd’s pie, the leaner meat helps cut back on calories and saturated fat while still enjoying your favourite recipes.
 
4. Instead of potato chips…
Try popcorn: made in an air popper or on your stovetop with vegetable oil, this snack is super-high in fibre and counts as a serving of whole grains. Add a sprinkle of Parmesan or chili powder for a fun kick.
 
5. Instead of processed salad dressing…
Try olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This two-ingredient dressing is free of added salt and sugar, and tastes great on any salad.
 
6. Instead of orange juice…
Try an orange: with the added benefits of fibre, the orange is digested more slowly and has less sugar than a cup of OJ. It will make you feel full, which juice just can’t do.
 
7. Instead of croutons…
Try nuts and seeds: top salads and soups with the crunchy goodness of slivered almonds, toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds. A ¼ cup serving a few times each week can help reduce heart disease risk.
 
8. Instead of sour cream…
Try plain Greek yogurt: it’s super-high in protein and still has the required creamy mouthfeel. Try it on baked potatoes, tacos or as the base for dip.
 
9. Instead of white rice
Try brown rice, quinoa or another whole grain. They have a pleasing, nutty flavour and the added benefit of more fibre and antioxidants.
 
10. Instead of milk chocolate…
Try dark chocolate. It’s got less sugar, more antioxidants, and a perfect melt-in-your mouth intensity that lingers for ultimate satisfaction. 
 
Start by implementing one change at a time, and stick with it. Soon your diet will have a boost in quality, and you’ll still be enjoying your favourite foods as part of a balanced lifestyle.
 
Cara Rosenbloom, RD, is the president of Words to Eat By, a nutrition communications company based in Toronto. She is co-author of the cookbook "Nourish: Whole Food Recipes Featuring Seeds, Nuts and Beans" (Whitecap, 2016). 

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