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Healthy swaps for favorite snacks

There are many options for healthier versions of our favorite foods and drinks. Even if swaps are made only some of the time, the health benefits add up.

Overheard at the grocery store recently was a conversation between a mom and her teenage son. The son wanted a lemon/lime soda; mom convincingly and quickly pivoted from “All that sugar isn’t good for your body or your brain” to “Let’s get lime sparkling water and fresh lemons.”  This is a great example of how to satisfy that craving for our favorite things but in a much healthier way. Here are some ideas to try:

Traditional sodas have zero nutritional value, so instead try infused sparkling waters, sparkling green tea, kombucha or alternative sodas. Brands such as Poppi and OLIPOP offer cola, root beer and cream soda options with ingredients such as plant fiber, prebiotics and botanicals that offer health benefits – and they actually taste good.

What goes in coffee or tea can change not only the taste but the amount of sugar and calories. One resident makes homemade creamer as a gift and said it is easy to make with reduced-fat coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract and a little sweetener like maple syrup or agave. Then customize with favorite spices. At the grocery store, check for low- or zero-sugar sweeteners like NutPods or Kitu Life Super Creamer, which offer loads of flavor without the sugar rush.

Most sugary cereals are packed with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial food dyes like red dye 40, which has been associated with behavioral issues in children, according to At the grocery store, look for brands such as Barbara’s, Nature’s Path and Love Grown, which offer healthier versions of favorite cereal brands.

Potato chips are tough to replicate with their salty taste and crunchy texture. Due to their mix of fat and salt, they keep us coming back for more. Sometimes the craving can be satisfied with baked potato chips, kale chips, beet chips, veggie chips or roasted chickpeas. A creative resident said her kids love her homemade chips made with zucchini and parsnips.

Why use white bread when there are much more nutritious and tastier options? Try a whole grain, sprouted bread with protein and fiber. Try alternative bread options such as cauliflower or broccoli breads or forego the bread entirely and try using lettuce or Swiss chard leaves as a wrap.

Making healthy swaps, even if it is only some of the time, add up to significant benefits. If more recommendations are needed, talk with a nutritionist or healthcare professional.


By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Vani Hari




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