Three years ago, I had never heard of quinoa (and I had no clue how to pronounce it). I had never cooked a beet. The idea that people crave veggies was crazy to me. We ate fairly healthy and didn’t eat fast-food every night, but we also had so much room to improve. I came across small healthy food swaps I incorporated easily into our routine, that made a BIG impact on our health.
I started really making nutrition a priority just after my second daughter was born. No diets, just eating whole, from-the-ground foods, made with ingredients I could pronounce. Here are five healthy changes or swaps we made to kick-start our focus on nutrition. Three years later, and we still do all of these things, and we’ve never looked back.
Cut out wheat pasta.
There are a bunch of other options and some that we love are:
- Whole grain pasta
- Edamame pasta
- Zoodles (spiralized zucchini)
- Spaghetti squash
- Soba noodles
- Thinly sliced zucchini, squash or eggplant instead of lasagna noodles
It’s fun to try new pasta replacements to find what satisfies your pasta craving. We tried black bean and quinoa pastas and they didn’t do it for us, but they’re worth a try – you might like them! I also found that pasta used to be my quick go-to dinner when I didn’t feel like cooking, or was home late. Now, I feel better using these other options. I will admit that when my craving strikes for fresh fettuccini, ravioli or a hearty lasagna, I’ll give in. It’s all about balance. 🙂
Eat more veggies.
With dinner, lunch and snacks, I’m more mindful of eating more veggies. At dinner, if our main dish isn’t packed with veggies, we’ll have a side salad, or roasted veggies. If I’m feeling unusually tired at the end of the day, sometimes I can trace it back to not enough veggies throughout the day. I also find that when I eat more veggies, I crave more veggies.
A few ways we add more veggies into our meals:
- Chopped spinach, bell peppers and mushrooms to scrambled eggs for breakfast
- Add a couple handfuls of spinach into smoothies
- Pack tacos full of tomatoes, corn and sweet potatoes
- Cook up zucchini and yellow squash with some coconut oil, salt, pepper and top with a tiny bit of fresh parmesan for a really quick veggie side
- I usually roast a bunch of veggies when I meal prep so we can reheat and eat with dinners throughout the week. We love beets, sweet potato, zucchini, broccoli, butternut squash and sometimes Brussel sprouts.
Buy all-natural peanut butter.
We LOVE peanut butter in our house and eat it like crazy. By the spoonfuls. It’s a must-have in our house. Our favorite is Kirkland’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter from Costco because it comes in a two-pack. I love that when you look at the ingredient list, all I see is roasted peanuts and salt.
Read the ingredients.
This one has helped me a ton. Before, I would occasionally glance at food labels for calories mostly, sometimes sodium or sugar. Now, first I read the ingredients list, then move on to the rest. A few things I keep in mind when reading the labels:
- If I can’t pronounce or don’t recognize and ingredient, most likely I’ll put the item back on the shelf.
- I try to avoid products that have more than a handful of ingredients.
- If some form of sugar is one of the first three ingredients, I’ll probably put that back too (unless it’s something I’m expecting to be high in sugar (like chocolate).
- I keep in mind that the 25 grams of sugar is the recommended amount a woman should consume.
- I’m mindful of the amount of sodium in the product.
- I compare product ingredients when trying to decide between multiple brands or similar products. I’ll read the labels side by side to determine which item is healthier overall.
- And don’t forget to look at the serving size, because sometimes that can be a little deceiving.
Planning has without a doubt been the most helpful tip I’ve used to stay on track. Every week, I write out a rough plan of what I’ll eat for every meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. It’s flexible but helps with grocery shopping and meal prep, which I do every weekend. I’ll be sharing more on this, like how I meal prep for my family, what we typically buy, what we eat, etc. so stay tuned. 🙂
These are just a few of the tips I’ve used to make healthy eating easier for my family. If you have other tips, please share them below!