Change up these staples and instantly increase the nutritional value of the foods you eat every day. Try making these changes gradually, like when you run out of what’s currently in your pantry. You’ll be surprised about how easy it is!
- Swap out your peanut butter for almond butter
Almond butter packs a big nutritional punch. It is high in protein, fibre, magnesium, and Vit E. This means it will help you stay full, balance your blood sugar (fewer crashes = fewer pregnant hangry moments), fight inflammation and promote relaxation (that’s the magnesium, it’s great to help you sleep better, too). Almonds are also less likely to contain molds, fungus and pesticides compared to peanuts. For an in-depth look at the health difference between these two nuts, check out Nutritionist and Founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition Meghan Telpner’s blog post on the subject.
You can use this super food on more than just toast. Try it in cookies, stir-fry sauces, smoothies, salad dressings, and as a dip for fruit. Simply use almond butter in place of peanut butter in all recipes.
Feeling a bit of sticker shock on the price of almond butter or just can’t give up peanut? Go for organic natural with your peanut butter which will help a lot in eliminating the sugar, hydrogenated oils and pesticides.
Try mixing it up, too – variety is your best bet for getting the nutrients you need. Buy almond every-other time, and try other nut butters to find your favourite. You can buy cashew, sunflower, hazelnut, and mixed. Costco sells a great mixed nut/seed butter (pictured above), and you can always make your own at home or at bulk barn, whole foods, and many other markets.
- Try using healthy flours in place of all-purpose
Next time you shop for flour, leave the white all-purpose on the shelf and opt for healthier version. This is an easy way to up the nutrition of any baking you do throughout your pregnancy and post-natal period. (think the good stuff: muffins, pancakes, cookies, brownies etc.). You’ll get more protein, fibre, healthy fats, plus a more varied array of vitamins and minerals with any of the following substitutions:
- Almond flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Brown rice flour
- Spelt flour
- Quinoa flour
- Coconut flour
- And many more!
I like to experiment with these as I go, and I always try to substitute ¼ cup of whatever flour the recipe calls for with almond flour (also called almond meal or ground almonds) to increase the protein and healthy fat of whatever I’m making (usually muffins). You can do the same, or search for recipes on Pinterest that use the flour you want to try, or download an easy to read guide about how to substitute healthy flours for the regular white and whole wheat versions.
Find these in the baking or natural foods section of your local grocery store. If you don’t have any luck there, check out bulk barn, whole foods, and other natural markets which all carry many different varieties.
- Make your own salad dressings
I stopped buying salad dressings years ago and I’m so glad I did. I saved money, room in my fridge, and I genuinely like the taste of homemade versions so much better. Most salad dressings (yes, even those with natural on the label) are packed with preservatives, sodium, salt, and they often have refined and nutrient bare oils as a base instead of our beloved EVOO. Basically – you don’t need them.
I use this 30-second garlic balsamic dressing on almost anything. I usually make it in a small mason jar:
- ¼ cup EVOO
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, minced (or two if you’re a garlic lover like me)
- Few twists of sea salt (a pinch)
- A pinch of dried or fresh basil and/or oregano
Simply add ingredients to your little mason jar, put on the lid, shake it up, and pour!
- Replace refined white sugar with coconut sugar
It’s actually super easy stop using refined white sugar. All supermarkets carry unrefined sugars and more and more of the recipes you’ll find online are omitting the white stuff (yay!).
I use coconut sugar or natural cane sugar in place of white sugar for all recipes. If you’re a fellow coconut hater don’t despair, coconut sugar will not make your baking taste like coconut!
Here’s a basic tip: Use about 5 tbsp of coconut sugar in place of the sugar called for in your usual baked goods. Also look for sweet recipes that use maple syrup, honey, bananas, or applesauce to replace some of the sugar.
- Buy the full-fat version
Stop buying low fat versions of your go-to foods. Fat is not evil, it is good for us (within reason) and it serves many important roles in your body like absorbing key nutrients and helping you to think clearly.
Worried eating full fat food will make you gain too much weight? Well, I have a surprise for you. Eating low fat versions of food has been shown to make you gain more weight than eating the full fat kinds. Why? The fat you’re not eating has to be replaced with something, right? Guess what that something is? Sugar, artificial sweeteners, and more carbohydrates.
There is also evidence that eating full fat versions of foods fills you up faster, so you eat less. A good rule of thumb is to eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible. For a primer on the nutritional research on fats, you can read Brian Walsh’s piece for Time magazine “Ending the war on fat”.
- Make your own snack food
I promise it is way easier than it sounds. I’m talking easy snack foods – granola, trail mix, muffins, etc. Staying away from as much packaged foods as possible is one of the best ways to support your health nutritionally, get yourself into the kitchen, and learn to cook healthy foods. This is especially true when it comes to snack foods, the kind that takes over half of the grocery store (think cookies, crackers, cereals, lunch box fillers, chips, etc.). If you can replace even one of your usual packaged snack foods with something you make in your own kitchen, it is a huge win! Start with my granola which only takes 5 minutes to put together.
- Eat what you’re craving
Ok this one isn’t a necessarily a kitchen swap but it is worth saying: If you’re really craving something, eat/buy it! Especially if you can’t keep much down, be kind to yourself and eat what your body will accept. Even if you can stomach most foods, eating foods you’re seriously craving (within reason of course) is going to help you have a healthy, happy pregnancy.
What kitchen substitutions have you tried? Do you have any go-to recipes to share? Comment below or use #gingerrooteats!