Aoife's top 5 healthy and surprisingly easy food swaps for those who want to eat clean
With all of these health food buzzwords flying around these days it’s hard to know what’s actually good for you and what’s not. The word paleo has been a popular one amongst them. Whether this is just a fad or it’s here to stay we will soon find out, but I for one really believe in the reasoning behind it. In a nutshell the word paleo means to eat like a cave man. Eat foods that come naturally from the earth. So this means no cereal grains, no legumes, no dairy, no refined sugar, no potatoes, no processed food and no refined vegetable oils. I know at a first glance this seems like I’m taking everything away but you’ll be surprised at the amount of options that are left.
Living a lifestyle eating grass fed meats, fish & seafood, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy oils can be so much more interesting and tasty than what you're used to. All it takes is a tiny bit of effort and I know you’ll be more than happy with the results. When talking about paleo, I use the word lifestyle and not the word diet. I think diets are just phases that people go through, we (and by ‘we’ I mean most of us) have all been culprits of putting ourselves under pressure before bikini season to lose weight, and we’ve all gone about it the completely wrong way. The days of drinking lemon juice and maple syrup for weeks on end and nearly keeling over after struggling through day one are over. It’s all about moderation and eating the foods that you know. Not only will you have so much more energy, but your body will thank you also. Eating clean products and cooking with fresh and healthy ingredients has incredible benefits. It reduces your risk of heart disease, aids weight loss, improves sleep, increases your athletic performance and improves your mental attitude and clarity. If that doesn’t win you over then I just don’t know what will.
So, to help you ease into the paleo lifestyle I have come up with 5 food swaps that you can introduce into your daily meals. All it takes are little changes and you’ll reap huge rewards.
1. Coconut Oil.
Go out and get yourself a jar of coconut oil. Even if you give up with the whole paleo thing after one day you cant go wrong with it, it can be used as a fantastic hair mask and moisturizer if all else fails. Im presuming that hopefully you new paleo followers won’t give up after the first day and will be able to use coconut oil in your daily routine. Honestly, I cant speak highly enough about this product. It aids weight loss as it contains short and medium-chain fatty acids, these help taking off excessive weight. It’s also easy to digest and increases the body’s metabolic rate.
Use coconut oil instead of any oils that you would usually use and don’t worry if you’re not a fan of coconut, its basically tasteless. I have come up with so many recipes that include coconut oil on my blog and they are all available to you at your fingertips, just give Google a go.
2. Nut Milk
Dairy is a big no no when it comes to eating like a cave man. About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products. Although our bodies need calcium, this calcium does not have to be sourced from dairy. A better source of nutrient to minimalize the risk of fracture is vitamin D.
And I know some of you milk lovers reading this will think I’m crazy but I’m actually not. You don’t need dairy. Fact. So to replace the full fat milks that we are all so used to drinking, I offer you nut milk. Just as tasty and miles better for your health. Nut milks are so diverse. You can play with the flavors and adjust them to exactly how you like them, even make it chocolaty if you want. They are inexpensive and easily found. A little swap like this goes a long way.
3. Dark Chocolate.
This craze of dark chocolate is here and is here to stay. Give up the Moros, Dairy Milks, caramel bars and Kinder Buenos. You don’t have to resist those chocolate cravings but simply swap the high calorie, high fat options with a couple of squares of high percentage dark chocolate. If you don’t already love it, you’ll learn to. I personally have become obsessed. Dark chocolate is full of anti oxidants and helps maintain blood sugar levels. Do this and thank me later.
For dinner we are all used to the ‘one meat and two veg’ option. Usually these vegetables end up being baked potatoes, or not vegetables at all. I know the thought of taking the filling carbohydrates out of your meals sounds daunting but it really isn’t. Easy swaps like having sweet potato instead of potatoes or butternut squash instead of rice or pasta is all it takes. You never have to go hungry, and you shouldn’t. Fill yourself up with the right foods and you can’t go wrong.
Now, when it comes to cakes we are talking a completely different story. I know that there is nothing that beats a full fat carrot cake, or a dense creamy cheesecake. But! Don’t knock what I’m going to say until you’ve tried it. I have been baking for the last 10 years and I’ve tried basically every type of cake there is out there. In the last year or so I decided to jump on board this whole healthy eating craze and change it up. Now all my cakes are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and vegan(sometimes!) Believe me when I tell you that I DON’T miss the old ones. Making cakes with nut flours and using natural sweeteners actually yields a much tastier cake. And eating something that tastes delicious and you know is twice as good for you and has half the fat makes it all that sweeter.
You don’t have to look far for a good recipe, or if you’re a lazy sod and don’t like baking, you don’t need to drive far either. Each month Dublin is expanding and more and more doors are opening with new healthy eateries, where you can now grab guilt free and gluten free options.
Making the decision to swap a couple of ingredients in your daily lifestyle is all it takes. Get ready for the healthier happier you!
All images are from Aoife's Eat Well Travel Far blog and you'll find all the recipes for the foods photographed above over there too.