It's difficult to eat healthy most of the time. I mean, honestly, who would choose a kale and spinach salad over a double bacon cheese burger day after day? The easiest way to eat healthy is to ease into it. Start by replacing unhealthy foods with the healthier alternative that will preserve the taste, but will be better for your body. This doesn't mean just replacing these foods in a recipe, but rather replacing them in your pantry.

This doesn't mean that you will automatically eat healthy all the time. These replacements won't replace the need for a greasy cheese burger, however when cooking at home, having these following replacements instead of their unhealthy alternatives will help make those usual meals just a little better for you.


Switching White Rice to Quinoa

While white rice isn't bad for you, it is not exactly good for you either. While the starches and carbohydrates in white rice provide a solid energy boost for busy individuals, because it is heavily processed, white rice loses a lot of nutrients. So naturally, many people are making the switch to the less processed brown rice. Let's be honest, brown rice tastes like a dry burnt horrible potato. The taste aside, a lot of brown rice's whole grain nutrients aren't actually useable to the human body because they are locked up by phytic acid.

Instead of using either white or brown rice, try instead using quinoa as a substitute for both. Quinoa is actually a seed but is prepared like a whole grain and ends up with a similar taste and texture as rice. One cup of quinoa has 3 grams of fiber compared to one cup of white rice which has none. Though white rice does have 2 grams of protein, but the quinoa has 4 grams. So quinoa has more fiber and protein, with less carbohydrates, however it does have 2 grams of fat as well where rice has no fat. This makes it a popular source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, however even meat eaters can enjoy it as a side to fish, chicken or beef.

C & F Premium Organic Quinoa 4lbs
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Dress Salads with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Instead of Ranch

You don't need to read the bottle to realize ranch dressing is horrible for you, just trust that guilty--slightly queasy--feeling you get in your gut after eating a ranch slathered salad. Ranch is miraculous, really. It has this magic way of turning all these healthy foods like salads and crudités into unhealthy foods with just a squeeze of a bottle.

So instead of using ranch which is filled with fat, MSG, and no particular dietary nutrients as well as a whole bunch of synthetic ingredients neither of us can pronounce, get with a healthier alternative. The healthiest way to enjoy a salad without feeling like a cow chewing bland grass is to add olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Olive oil is full of good fats as well as polyphenols that reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. The unique taste of olive oil mixed with the savory and a bit sour flavor of balsamic vinegar really adds some addicting flavor to a salad. Flavor that one doesn't need to feel guilty about.               

coconut water

Drink Coconut Water Instead of Sports Drinks

Most sports drinks are okay, however they are very much a sometimes drink. A lot of people drink them all the time as they think that they are as healthy as water, but with a better taste. Sports drinks like Gatorade are for active people. If you have just come back from jogging, then grabbing a sports drink is beneficial to replace all the lost salts that you just sweated out. However, if you are grabbing a Gatorade every hour or so while typing up those TPS reports, your setting yourself up weight gain (from the high level of calories and sugar in each bottle), high blood pressure (from the ungodly high sodium content), and vitamin toxicity (since vitamins like vitamin A are fat soluble, meaning you cannot pee out the excess like you can with B's and C's).

Instead of risking all those things with a sports drink, instead try nature's sports drink of coconut water. Coconut water has significantly more potassium, less calories, less sugars, and less sodium that sports drinks. It tastes better than regular water as well. While Gatorade may be better after a jog, for those who have an addiction to either sports drinks or all things natural, coconut water is the way to go.

pink salt

Replacing Table Salt with Himalayan Crystal Salt

In terms of taste, table salt and Himalayan salt (or "pink" salt) are the same. Salt is salt, it tastes salty. Though there are quite a few different kinds of salt that can vary in flavor, this isn't one of them. So why switch regular table salt out at all? Well, table salt is heavily processed, meaning most of the minerals that it had are now gone. Himalayan salt still has all those various minerals. However, table salt should still be used occasionally. Table salt, or iodized salt, has iodine added to it. Which is how we have been getting this important mineral for some time, our bodies need it. However, pink salt has many of the other minerals we are missing out on.

The Spice Lab's 2.2 pounds - 1Kg Fine Ground Himalayan Pink Salt -Gourmet
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chia seeds

Use Chia Seeds to Thicken Meatloaf Instead of Bread Crumbs

Whether it is thickening meatloaf, meatballs or breading a piece of meat, chia seeds are a healthy alternative to bread crumbs. Chia seeds are gluten free, making them a popular ingredient for those with gluten allergies. Essentially, chia seeds provide the same effect and flavor of breadcrumbs without all the salt and carbohydrates. Chia seeds have around 19 times more fiber and twice the protein than most bread crumbs, though it does depend on the kind of bread crumb. However, regardless of the kind, chia always wins out.

Chia seeds are also a nice thing to keep around in general, when mixed with some water, they make a great egg substitute in baking and also were renowned by the Mayans and Aztecs as a good energy food for long runs or in battle.A lot of people are also mixing chia seeds and water to make a homemade energy gel.

Nutiva Organic Black Chia Seeds, 12-oz. Bag
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(price as of Aug 11, 2015)