Maybe you’ve already bought some quinoa and Ezekiel bread and you’re whipping up smoothies for breakfast too. That’s all great, but what’s next?
The ideas I’ve listed below are slightly more adventurous than my first post, and not everything you’ll find is common in all local grocery stores. They should be accessible at health food stores, and I guarantee you can find every product online. iHerb.com is a great site to use if you have difficulty finding a product locally.
I fell in love with eating healthy at this level. Yeah, I’ve heard the stories before about eating more whole wheat and less processed foods, but when I really started to dive in, I realized there was so much that I still didn’t know. Maybe a few items in this list will already be familiar to you, but I hope there’s at least one thing in here that gives you that a-ha moment I found too.
1. Invest in seeds. There’s flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin… and so much more! Like nuts, seeds are a nutritional superfood lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD) that desperately needs a reintroduction. And yes, I did mention chia in that list.
I bet you didn’t know that those cute (err…disturbing?) Chia pets are full of nutritional superstardom. They have more omega-3s than the more popular flaxseed, and they are full of antioxidants, fiber, protein and calcium. But no matter what seed you prefer, each one is a terrific nutrient source that’s easily digestible. And just like nuts – don’t overdo your portions. Try a handful of seeds a day in your next breakfast smoothie, bowl of granola, oatmeal, or even when baking cookies. Your body will love you for it.
2. Go from cocoa to carob. Carob powder is a substitute for unsweetened cocoa powder. It contains no caffeine, making it a great alternative for kids, pregnant women and anyone else looking to reduce or eliminate their caffeine intake.
3. Eat your avocados. Okay, kids, I know you can find this one in your grocery store! Avocados are a vitamin E powerhouse and a well-known superfood, but not many people eat them regularly. Aim for at least one a week. They’re high in fats, but they contain mono-saturated fats that work hard to lower your cholesterol.
Avocado is a fruit that can be added into so many recipes. Use mashed avocado in place of butter or mayonnaise to spread on bagels and sandwiches. Or, eat it plain and sprinkle a small amount of salt on top. I’ve used them in smoothies, salad dressings, and even dessert! However, if you do use them in smoothies, don’t add in banana unless you want to turn it into some kind of yogurt concoction. They have the same creamy consistency of a banana, so always go for one or the other.
4. Switch your sugar. Dump your refined sugars and try something a little more romantic sounding! Stevia is the best sugar alternative. It has no calories and it’s completely natural. That means it’s not friends with the nasty aspartame that you’ll find in other low-calorie sweeteners. You can find it in both liquid and powder forms. Brown rice syrup is another good alternative, although it’s only available in liquid form. I’ve used agave syrup on occasion, but there’s much debate over whether it’s truly a healthier option. Agave is low on the glycemic index, but it’s definitely more processed than brown rice syrup. Also beware of sugars marked as raw or turbinado. They’re only slightly less processed than refined white sugar, but if given the option, go with the raw.
5. Drop the pop. Coke, soda, pop…whatever you want to call it, stop drinking it. You’re essentially drinking huge amounts of refined
sugar in liquid form. It’s bad for your teeth, bones and waistline. There is literally not one redeeming quality about this stuff. With so many other healthier and tasty drinks out there, why sip the soda? And diet pop is even worse since it’s more processed with artificial sweeteners.
If you still crave the fizzy carbonation you get from drinking pop, sparkling water is a great alternative.You can easily find sparkling water at your grocery store, and if you buy a generic brand, it’s cheaper than a case of pop. If you’re more adventurous, try kombucha. It’s a fermented tea and full of probiotics. My favorite is made by GT Kombucha, and you can find it at most health food stores. Just remember to be extra careful when handling the bottle before drinking it or it WILL explode all over you. Shaking is not necessary, people. You’ve been warned. The New York Times also has a great article on the popularity of kombucha in recent years.
Interested in other healthy eating ideas? Check out my first article in the series, So You Want to Be a Healthy Eater?. I’ll be back next week to share my last post, where I’ll discuss what I think is the hardest stage of healthy eating – reducing your meat and dairy intake.