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Healthy Holiday Food Substitutes

Like you, I have some favorite family recipes that don’t exactly fit my definition of healthy food. Fortunately, there are some easy swaps you can make to healthify any of your favorite recipes!

Healthy Food Substitutions

  1. White sugar: Instead of the white refined stuff, reach for nature’s natural sweetness. Coconut sugar, mineral-rich and low glycemic is a cup-for-cup substitute perfect for baking, but it does taste a bit less sweet. Also, you can substitute raw stevia and xylitol.
  2. Brown Sugar: Coconut sugar can be substituted cup for cup. It boasts a similar molasses flavor to brown sugar.
  3. Agave nectar: That’s right, agave nectar is a highly processed sweetener that should be replaced with equal amounts of raw honey or stevia.
  4. Margarine and butter substitutes: Can’t believe it’s not butter? I can. And why would you want a substitute for butter, anyway, because it is a true superfood! If there is a dairy allergy, use coconut oil instead of butter.
  5. Vegetable oils: Common vegetable oils are canola oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil (yes!), and sunflower oil. These are all bad news due to their not heat-stable and inflammatory fatty acid profile. For baking, substitute melted ghee or coconut oil. For salad dressings, use high-quality olive oil.
  6. Shortening: Substitute an equal measurement of slightly chilled coconut oil. This uber-healthful, heat-stable fat beats the carcinogenic trans fat found in shortening any day!
  7. Peanut butter: Peanuts contain naturally occurring fungal toxins and one of the most unhealthy fatty acid profiles of all nuts (even though, technically, it isn’t a nut). Instead, reach for raw almond butter.
  8. Table salt: Perhaps the easiest swap of all: use Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt in place of refined salt. The best part? It is so good for you!
  9. Vinegar: When a recipe calls for white vinegar or any other type of vinegar, use raw apple cider vinegar.
  10. Cocoa powder: Cacao powder is the raw, unprocessed twin of cocoa powder. It has significantly higher antioxidant and nutrient levels.
  11. Canned broth or stock: While canned stock brings little more than scant flavor and perhaps a few undisclosed ingredients (MSG, anyone?) to your meals, homemade broth tastes better and packs a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals. Don’t be intimidated, it’s easy to make a simple broth in your crockpot.
  12. Spices: Unfortunately, many conventional spices are irradiated. Since I believe irradiation changes the integrity and health properties of food, I only purchase organic spices, which cannot be irradiated.
  13. White potatoes: Sweet potatoes pack more nutrients and don’t have the inflammatory properties of white potatoes. Cauliflower also makes an easy substitute. You can make cauliflower mashed potatoes or faux-potato salad.
  14. Brown rice: Really? Brown rice is a no-no? Yep, it contains higher levels of nutrient-robbing phytic acid and indigestible fiber (that’s not a good thing) than white rice. Instead, reach for organic quinoa.
  15. Salad dressing: Salad dressings usually contain canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, and/or sunflower oil… ALL of these are really bad news because they have high levels of inflammatory polyunsaturated fats. Instead, make your own easy salad dressing with 3 parts of good-quality olive oil and 1 part of lemon juice.
  16. Cream: If you avoid dairy, place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Then, without shaking the can, skim the thick coconut cream from the top of the can. Use this as a substitute for cream – you can even whip it for dairy-free whipped cream!
  17. Low-fat dairy products: “Low fat” is a marketing code word for a chemical-laden hot mess. Full-fat dairy products are by far the healthier choice. Organic and grass-fed dairy is preferable.
  18. Cheese: conventional cheese like other dairy can be very toxic, the best choice is Organic and Raw cheese.
  19. Mayonnaise: Bad-news vegetable oils (safflower/canola/soybean oils) and icky stabilizers hide in commercial mayonnaise. If you are making a sandwich, butter the bread instead. For mayonnaise-based recipes like potato salad and salad dressings, you can make your own with quality olive oil.
  20. Cornstarch: Swap out this most likely GMO ingredient with arrowroot flour.
  21. Sweetened shredded coconut: Did you know that most sweetened shredded coconut contains propylene glycol, a synthetic solvent used in anti-freeze? Yuk! Instead, use 100% pure unsweetened shredded coconut.

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