Yadda, yadda, yadda…I’m so tired of seeing the same five substitutions to make every recipe more nutritious. Relying on the same superfoods, time after time, is not only incredibly boring, but it can also be expensive, depending on usage and availability.
Trendiness is essentially the death of creativity!
Fortunately for us there are a handful of equally effective foods to substitute for. YAY!
Change is good!
Here are five inexpensive replacements.
- Cranberries over Goji Berries
Goji berries became popular largely due to their exotic nature and their use in Chinese medicine.
The berry name attributed to the Goji fruit is actually deceiving to most because they are naturally bitter in flavor.
Cranberries, though not exotic, provide similar health benefits.
One study published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that Polyphenol antioxidants from cranberries boosted cells’immune response to cold and flu. Plus the classic advise that cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections.
“In one recent University of Wisconsin study, 20 women prone to UTI’s consumed one serving. (about 1.5 ounces) of sweetened dried cranberries daily. Within 6 months the mean UTI rate among subjects decreased significantly.” (Time. Superfoods-diet-nutrition.)
Crazy for Cranberries:
For some fun ways to eat dried cranberries, you can add them to your trail mix, stir them into your oatmeal and add to garden salads. They can also be added to stir frys, folded into dark chocolate for a sweet treat or sprinkled over cooked veggies.
- Chickpeas over Quinoa
Quinoa is the Olympic medalist of the whole grain family.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the next health façade was a quinoa based cereal.
Sounds crazy right?
Wrong. There are literally thousands of recipes for quinoa based recipes or quinoa substitutions.
Now I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on the versatile whole grain. Quinoa is great.
But it can also feel unoriginal and repetitive.
Believe it or not, you can get similar nutritional benefits when you substitute for chickpeas. Chickpeas, like quinoa, are gluten-free and offer a unique balance plant based proteins and fiber-rich carbs.
For the sake of comparison, here’s the breakdown:
|Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked)||Chick Peas (1/2 cup)|
|20 grams of carbs||17 grams of carbs|
|2.5 grams of fiber||5 grams of fiber|
|4 grams of protein||5 grams of protein|
*Both also contained various minerals and antioxidants, and can be eaten hot, chilled or in flour form.
Chickpeas are extremely easy to sneak into your diet. And they can add a nice crunch and heartiness to your signature dishes.
Crazy for Chickpeas:
Add chickpeas to soups, stews, chilis. For a crispy satisfying snack, roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt. You can even use chickpea flour in baking cooking, to thicken sauces, coat lean protein, or as a smoothie add-in. And don’t forget hummus, chickpeas are the main ingredients!
- Cabbage Over Cauliflower
Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the blogosphere recently exploded with cauliflower recipes. Cauliflower rice, cauliflower crust and even cauliflower buffalo wings. Just to name a few.
I know they all sound tempting. And I am not trying to say they aren’t worth your time or don’t taste delicious. The point here is that you can only eat so much cauliflower before it starts to get boring and overdone.
So-if you’re yearning for change, dive right in with cabbage.
Both are a part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. This means they contain immune system supporters, natural detoxifiers, and defend against both heart disease and cancer.
Crazy for Cabbage:
Toss shredded cabbage with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, black pepper, and sea salt. Mix up the flavors by adding good-for-you ingredients, like fresh grated ginger, minced garlic, Dijon mustard or chopped fruit. If you’re not a fan of raw cabbage try cooking it with a bit of olive oil, a sliced, apple cider vinegar, a chopped yellow onion, seas salt and black pepper.
- Kalettes over Kale
Huh? what are Kalettes? Oh I am so glad you asked.
If you have had an unpleasant experience with Kale or simply do not enjoy the texture, then I highly recommend Kalettes.
Kalettes are a hybrid between Kale and Brussel sprouts. They are not genetically modified and they produce a sweeter, and nuttier flavor. Kalettes offer similar protective nutrients, including ample amounts of vitamins K and C and loads of antioxidants.
Crazy for Kalettes:
To give these babies a whirl try making a batch of oven roasted Kalettes. Toss with a little sesame oil, sea salt and black pepper, place on a baking sheet and cook at 475 degrees. Or for a sweet version, mix them with coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon before cooking.
- Sesame Seeds Over Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are everywhere these days: drinks, bars, crackers, jams, you name it!
They’re good for you. There’s no denying that. But if you don’t want to jump on the bandwagon or follow in your neighbor’s trendy footsteps, then switch to sesame seeds.
While they don’t pack the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as chia seeds, research has shown that they boost blood levels of antioxidants, and lower overall and “bad” LDL cholesterol in people who have high levels.
Similar to chia seeds, sesame seeds are rich in magnesium and contain over 30% of your daily needs per quarter cup.
This mineral regulates heart rhythm, blood pressure, and blood sugar and is crucial for muscle, nerve, and immune function. It also contributes to the structural development of bone, and is needed to make DNA.
Incorporating sesame seeds into your meals is quite simple. You can do it without even thinking.
Crazy for Sesame Seeds:
Sprinkle them onto salads or cooked veggies. Toast and add them to oatmeal, or whip them into a smoothie. To mix up the texture, you can try sesame seed butter or Tahini (a paste made from ground seeds). Tahini flavored with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, and minced garlic as a mayo alternative, dipping sauce, dressing or tasty topping for cooked veggies.