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Clean Pantry

Healthier Foods Swaps You’ll Barely Notice That Are Infinitely Better for You

Little changes can add up to a big health benefits. Here are 10 healthier food swaps that trade subpar calories for nutrient-rich ones.

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Little changes here and there can add up to an entirely healthier you. From healthy food swaps to cooking hacks, here are 10 genius ways to swap subpar calories for nutrient-rich ones.

1. Swap cream cheese with a Greek yogurt-cream cheese blend

With 4 times the protein plus probiotics, cream cheese blended with plain Greek yogurt is a new, healthier option for your bagel or sandwich. Can’t find it at the store? Make your own in a food processor using a 50:50 ratio and customize it with chives, smoked salmon, or chopped veggies.  

2. Swap fruity yogurt cups with plain Greek yogurt mixed with homemade fruit puree

Little plastic tubs of fruity yogurt are tempting, but they’re commonly 10 to 20 grams of sugar per serving. Make your own yogurt cups instead by mashing frozen or fresh berries with a dash of vanilla extract or ground cinnamon, layer in small glass jars with plain Greek yogurt for a total of 5 grams of natural (unrefined) sugars and less plastic waste.  

3. Swap croutons with roasted nuts

Toasted bread cubes soaked in olive oil and salt can pile the calories and sodium onto an otherwise healthy salad. If you crave the crunch, try a few tablespoons of nutrient-dense roasted shelled pistachios as a healthy food swap instead. Roasted pistachios are rich in B-6 vitamins and have a third of the sodium, half the carbs, and twice the protein of store-bought croutons. 

4. Swap a margarita for a vermouth spritzer

By exchanging your usual cocktail made with refined sugar-soaked margarita mix for a homemade vermouth spritzer (2 ounces sweet vermouth + 4 fl oz soda water), you’ll be shaving about 200 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrates from your next happy hour. Now that’s a healthy food swap to be happy about! 

5. Swap a 2-slice bread sandwich with an open-face sandwich on sprouted rye

Take a page from the svelte Scandinavians and make open faced sandwiches with dense sprouted rye bread instead of 2 slices of whole-wheat bread for about half the calories, half the carbohydrates, plus more fiber and protein. Eating your open face sandwich with a fork and knife also slows you down so you’ll be more aware when you’re full.

6. Swap milk chocolate for 72% dark chocolate

Get the full benefits of chocolate by savoring the dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids or higher) instead of milk chocolate. It’s higher in cancer-fighting phenolic compounds and flavonoids and you’ll be eating about a third of the sugar, 2 grams more fiber per 1 ounce serving, plus more iron. 

7. Dip instead of dress

Dip your fork in a small ramekin of homemade dressing before you spear each bite of salad and you’ll get the perfect amount. You’ll also use about a third of the dressing—that’s about 100 calories per tablespoon of dressing! 

8. Swap sour cream for plain Greek yogurt

Love the creaminess of sour cream on your baked potato? Use plain Greek yogurt instead and you’ll get 4 times the protein, beneficial probiotics, and a tangy flavor that amps up plain old potatoes.   

9. Swap a flour tortilla for a corn tortilla

By ditching the flour tortilla for a whole grain, sprouted soft corn tortilla, one taco will contain 80 less calories and contain half the refined carbs. Corn tortillas also give you a bit more fiber and are gluten-free. Viva los taco Tuesdays!

10. Swap ground beef for ground bison

The next time you’re shopping for ground beef, consider choosing ground bison instead. Bison are more often pasture-raised (grass-fed) and therefore more sustainable, and bison offers more omega-3 fats and iron than beef.

For more ingredient substitutions that up the ante on nutrition, read on: