Simple, Healthier Food Swaps Even the Kids Will Enjoy
Over the past 6+ years, I’ve been on a mission to make simple changes to my meals and pantry staples to improve my and my family’s overall health. Many of the healthy food swaps I’ve made couldn’t be easier, allowing me to add more nutrition to our diets without taking away the foods we love to enjoy. Instead, I think of it as making over our typical meals.
In this post, I’m sharing eight of the easiest healthy food substitutions I’ve made and have stuck to. This isn’t to say that we don’t indulge once in a while.But these healthy food swaps are regulars in our household now, letting us enjoy snacks and yummy food, like pizza and snacks, while putting better stuff in our bodies. Check out my food swap ideas and then leave a comment sharing your healthier food swaps!
Photo by August de Richelieu
*I received free product from Banza to help facilitate this post. This post also contains affiliate links from which I will earn a commission from purchases made using the links. This happens at no extra cost to you. All opinions in this post are my own, regardless of affiliate or sponsor relationship.
Table of Contents
7 Healthy Food Swaps Even the Kids Will Love
These healthy food substitutions are ones I use in my own household, and even my picky youngest child tolerates — and sometimes loves — them!
1. Swap Chips for Popcorn
We all know how easy it is to down chip after chip while watching a movie on family movie night. Unfortunately, just a mere handful of regular potato chips can add lots of empty calories, fat, sodium, and carbs to your diet. A few years ago, I found out how much healthier popcorn is, so I made the swap, and it has absolutely been one of the easiest substitutions.
According to the American Heart Association, popcorn is a heart-healthy snack that’s loaded with whole-grain fiber. Of course, you need to make sure you’re preparing popcorn yourself to avoid having it drenched in butter, salt, and other ingredients that could reduce its healthiness. Therefore, the best way to stay in control of your final product is to air-pop it and season it yourself instead of grabbing a bag of microwaveable or pre-popped popcorn. I love these popcorn-seasoning tips and recipes from Bob’s Red Mill.
Now, you can enjoy your family night with a better-for-you snack to last throughout the movie.
2. Swap Regular Pizza Crust for Chickpea Crust
Perhaps my favorite swap I’ve made over the last couple of years is using more chickpea-based ingredients rather than white flour-based ingredients. Banza’s chickpea pastas, for example, have become a pantry staple in my home since I first discovered them on my local Walmart’s shelves. My kids had absolutely no idea I changed up our pastas until they saw a box sitting on the counter one night. These pastas are THAT good.
I absolutely recommend doing the same in your home if you need an easy way to add more protein and fiber to your diet. While you’re at it, try Banza’s chickpea pizzas and pizza crusts, too. I tried these more recently, and now there’s not a chance of me going back to regular pizza crust.
I love make-your-own-pizza nights in our house because they’re convenient for me (not a whole lot of cooking or time needed!) and my kids can make a pizza they enjoy. I set out sauce, cheeses, and a few toppings, and let them work their magic. Banza’s frozen Plain Crust Pizza make dinner so simple. Just remove the crust from the packaging, add your toppings, and bake for 10-15 minutes.
My son building a pepperoni pizza to enjoy using Banza Plain Crust Pizza.
Our first night using Banza pizza crusts, we made pepperoni pizza, taco pizza, and buffalo chicken pizza. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you they tasted just as delicious as pizzas made with traditional pizza crusts. Yet, Banza makes these 100% vegan crusts with chickpeas, which offer way more nutritional value than white flour-based crusts.
3. Swap Yogurt for Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt usually has less sugar and fat and more protein than other yogurts, especially if you look for an unsweetened, low-fat version. Instead of buying sugar-filled yogurts (yes, they’re tasty, but they certainly aren’t the best for nutrition), I buy plain Greek yogurt and add blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries for a naturally sweet flavor. Chia seeds and Grape Nuts are also a couple of go-to additions. If you really need some flavored yogurt, try Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla. It has zero added sugar, no saturated or trans fat, and 15 grams of protein. Bonus: Greek yogurt is also a fantastic swap for sour cream in tacos!
4. Swap White Bread for Whole Grain Bread
I actually can’t remember the last time I bought white bread for my family. In fact, I think this healthy food swap may have been my very first that lead to other small swaps. Why whole grain? According to Mayo Clinic, whole grains have lots of heart-healthy benefits, like regulating cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure. Whole grain bread typically has more fiber than white bread and can leave you feeling fuller longer after eating. My absolute favorite is Nature’s Own Life Sugar-Free 100% Whole Grain Bread, which has 11 grams of whole grains in each slice, plus no sugar, one gram of dietary fiber, and four grams of protein.
5. Swap Hamburgers for Turkey Burgers
Let me start by saying that this swap isn’t one I do for my kids all the time because it’s not their favorite. Sometimes, they simply want a regular hamburger (and, really, who can blame them?), and I oblige. But, we don’t have burgers often anyway, and about one-third of the time, I make turkey burgers instead of regular beef burgers for the family. I love this recipe from Killing Thyme, and I make sure to use the leanest ground turkey I can find. After all, cutting down on fat is my top reason for making this switch, with reducing our consumption of red meat coming in a close second. I do occasionally use frozen turkey burger patties to save time. If you go this route, compare nutrition labels first — these burgers aren’t always a healthier option just because they’re made with turkey!
6. Swap Bagels for Thinner Bagels
One of my go-tos on every Aldi trip is L’Oven’s Bagel Skinnys, which are much thinner than traditional bagels but still provide the bagel flavor I crave once in a while. Thomas also has a product called Bagel Thins, which are equally delicious. Fewer carbs and calories than a whole bagel make it a win for me for crazy mornings when I need a quick breakfast. If you can’t find either product at your local store, you can always slice a regular bagel in half and save the other half for another busy morning or share it with a kid.
7. Swap Red Meat for Chicken and Fish
Red meat isn’t all bad when it’s eaten sparingly. But I like to avoid saturated fats as much as possible, and many red meats are loaded with them. Most of the meals I make use chicken as the main ingredient, and then I fill in a couple of meals each week with fish. Chicken breast and fish offer lots of protein without adding a bunch of fat to your plate if you’re mindful of how you cook them. For instance, frying them in oil won’t be any better for you than eating full-fat ground beef. However, baking or air-frying them can add lots of crispiness and flavor without reducing their nutrition.
A few of the simple, healthy food swaps I’ve made with chicken and fish include shredded chicken or air-fried fish in place of ground beef for tacos, ground chicken for meatballs or meatloaf, and shredded chicken steaks instead of cheesesteaks.
What are Your Favorite Healthy Food Alternatives?
Do you use any of the above alternatives in your cooking routine? If not, are there any you’d like to try?
I’m always up for new ideas for making healthier meals for my family. Share your favorite healthy food swaps with me in the comments below!