Considering the fact that about 90 cents of every dollar spent at the grocery store goes toward processed junk food, this world needs a healthy intervention! And while the notion of cleaning up the fridge and pantry can be daunting, with many people putting off eating clean for another day, if you were waiting for the right time to start making healthier choices—it's now.
You are alive because of brilliant biochemistry, and the foods you eat instruct every facet of your health, feeding either health or disease. My job as a functional medicine expert is not only to get to the root cause of health problems; it's to develop realistic and sustainable solutions to heal them! And when it comes to healthy eating, here's a secret: You don't have to eat like a rabbit or restrict yourself to kale salads.
Instead, allow me to introduce you to the art of food hacking! Here are my favorite fun and easy alternatives to the world's most beloved meals. Let's transform your comfort foods into nutrient-dense superfoods and start healing with meals—not medicine.
1. Vegetable noodles instead of regular pasta
We all know by now the inflammatory impact of gluten, but who doesn't occasionally (or frequently) crave a big bowl of pasta? Curb those carb cravings by purchasing a spiralizer and turning your favorite veggies into noodles. Zucchini and sweet potato noodles have a great pasta-like consistency.
2. Cauliflower rice instead of rice
Although it's gluten-free, rice still has similar proteins to gluten that can be an issue for people struggling with inflammation and gastrointestinal problems like leaky gut syndrome. Swap out the rice in your favorite dishes for cauliflower rice! Simply cook and pulse in a food processor or get some already premade from the grocery store.
3. Nut cheese instead of dairy cheese
The dairy protein casein can be inflammatory, especially for those with underlying gut problems. But people love cheese, so what's the solution? Nut cheese! Nut cheese looks (and tastes) like the real deal and it's easy to make.
4. Cauliflower hummus instead of hummus
"Beans, beans the musical fruit" is a true saying, because the lectins and phytates in legumes like chickpeas can do a number on your digestion, causing bloating and gas. Swap out your chickpeas in hummus for cauliflower and you'll have a great legume-free dip for your fresh veggies!
5. Mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise
Some people can't handle the eggs that are used to make mayonnaise. For another creamy condiment to use in salads or sandwiches try some mashed avocado! It's the perfect consistency all on its own.
6. Coconut milk yogurt instead of dairy yogurt
Trade out your regular yogurt for a coconut milk-based version if you want to avoid dairy. Go for the unsweetened version to limit your sugar or make some of your own at home!
7. Plantain chips instead of potato chips
White potatoes are a member of the nightshade family, which can trigger inflammation in some of us. If you still crave a crunchy and salty snack, plantains are a better option. They taste like potato chips—without the inflammation shade from nightshades.
8. Coconut flakes instead of breadcrumbs
Coconuts contain some wonderful healthy fats, which are heavenly for your hormones and brain. Get more coconut into your diet by swapping out breadcrumbs for coconut flakes. It gives you that crisp texture with an added kick of flavor.
9. Flavored carbonated water instead of soda
We all know that too much sugar (not to mention artificial sweeteners) can hurt your health. Help curb your soda habit by switching to flavored carbonated water such as La Croix. It's just as fizzy as soda and has a wide range of natural flavors—something for everyone to love!
10. Carob instead of chocolate
I find that chocolate (even the dark healthier kind) is a hidden problem for many of my patients. So, chocolate lover, meet carob. This nutrient-dense chocolate alternative is free of the caffeine found in chocolate and typically well-tolerated.
11. Ghee instead of butter
By switching to ghee (clarified butter) instead of regular butter, you can avoid that inflammatory protein casein. Ghee is made by simmering butter and keeping the liquid fat but discarding the milk protein solids. What's left is a golden liquid jam-packed with uber-important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. Since it also has a high smoke point it's safe to use for cooking at high temperatures.
12. Coconut aminos instead of soy sauce
The majority of soy that is grown today is genetically modified (GMO) and also contains phytoestrogens, which can contribute to hormone imbalances. If you love making Asian-inspired dishes, try coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. It looks and tastes almost identical to soy sauce so you'll never miss a beat.
13. Turnip and cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes
These root vegetables have a very similar look and consistency to white potatoes and make the perfect substitute for mashed potatoes. Add in some garlic, salt, pepper and ghee and you have a nightshade-free side dish.
14. Coconut whip instead of whip cream
When you buy a can of coconut milk you have a layer of fat on top and the liquid at the bottom. Just simply take the layer of fat, add in some honey, whip it up and place in the fridge for a wonderful alternative to whipped cream! Add in some berries or top on your favorite gluten-free baked good for a dessert that everyone can enjoy.