Eating healthily can often seem like a chore, and for those who have no idea where to start, impossible.
But relax - eating better doesn't have to be so strenuous. By simply making a few small changes, you'll be well on the way to eliminating processed foods (including refined grains and sugars) from your diet. And guess what? Many of these easy food swaps are damn tasty too.
Check them out.
1. Sweet Potatoes
Instead of: regular potatoes.
They're also packed with a host of nutrients (hence their beautiful vivid colour), including iron, vitamins B6, D and C, potassium and magnesium. Add to this list beta carotene and other cartenoids, which boost immunity, protect against cancer and keep your skin glowing. Win!
Use in place of mash or baked potatoes, or chop them into wedges and roast in the oven with some paprika, herbs and seasoning. Delicious.
Instead of: spaghetti.
The thought of subbing your usual bowl of warm, comforting pasta with a pile of green vegetables might not seem very appetising, but courgetti has a similar consistency to regular spaghetti (especially when sauteed) and is great at absorbing your favourite sauces.
True to veggie form, courgettes are high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins C and B-complex, zinc and omega-3s. They also feature potassium, essential for healthy heart function and blood pressure, and manganese (useful for regulating the metabolism).
To make courgetti, use a spiralizer or julienne peeler. Alternatively you can use a regular peeler and simply cut the courgette carefully into ribbons.
Courgetti can also be used in place of noodles, and you can slice it into sheets for lasagne.
Instead of: white rice.
Cauliflower rice really is becoming the health world's newest favourite food, and its not hard to see why. Although brown rice can be a fantastic replacement for refined white rice (and is certainly one of the better grains, along with oats), cauli rice can be an even more appealing sub for those on a grain-free diet or trying to lose weight.
Cauliflower is a superfood all of its own, but often gets passed over for its greener cousin, broccoli. It contains vitamins K and C, manganese, and alpha-linolenic acid - the same omega-3 found in fish and flax seeds. It is high in fibre and promotes cellular detoxification and immune support.
To prepare, simply grate the cauliflower raw by hand, until you have as much 'rice' as you need. Alternatively you can do this with a food processor for ease.
Afterwards toss in a pan for a couple of minutes with some seasoning - coriander, cumin seeds or lemon/lime juice are popular choices.
4. Frozen Banana
Instead of: ice cream.
It may seem funny, but frozen banana soft-serve really does have the same consistency and sweetness as ice cream. By sating your ice cream cravings with frozen banana, you'll sidestep a mega load of added sugars, dairy and additives that are normally found in store-bought ice cream.
The potassium in bananas helps your body to stay properly hydrated, while their high levels of tryptophan boosts the brain's happy neurotransmitter, serotonin. Because of this, they can alleviate the symptoms of stress and even PMS; not to mention reduce inflammation, strengthen the nervous system and protect against type II diabetes, kidney cancer and other chronic diseases. What a fruit!
You should freeze ripe bananas for about an hour before blending them in a food processor to make a smooth consistency. (If they have been frozen for longer, you may want to let them defrost for a little while first before blending).
The internet is awash with banana ice cream recipes, using additional ingredients like peanut butter, chopped nuts, cinnamon, maple syrup and chocolate chips to create the perfect after-dinner treat. Try it for yourself - you'll be hooked.
5. Butterbean mash
Instead of: mashed potatoes.
Butterbeans are a great source of protein and fibre, and lack the amount of starch found in regular potatoes. They are naturally low in fat and contain tons of vitamins and minerals. As a member of the pulse family, they help you to feel fuller for longer, and won't spike your blood sugar or insulin levels like other carbs can.
Blend cooked butterbeans with some garlic, vegetable stock, good quality olive oil and seasoning, for the perfect accompaniment to your fish and veg.
6. Kale chips
Kale is a known superfood, packed full of calcium, vitamins K, A and C, antioxidants, protein, fibre and folate (important for vital brain development). It also carries that alpha-linolenic acid we talked about earlier, which can be found in the majority of cruciferous vegetables.
Kale chips can be the ideal substitute for your usual salty snack, as they will provide a hit of nutrients without the additives. Also, as you'll be making them yourself, you'll know exactly how much salt you're putting on them.
Cover the bottom of a baking tray with washed kale (stalks removed) and toss in a little good quality olive oil (or avocado oil); sea salt and optional seasonings of your choice. Roast in the oven for around 20-25 minutes, checking them regularly (don't let them burn!).
Many people choose to add ingredients like dried rosemary, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and paprika. Alternatively, try massaging the kale in some lemon juice and tahini or cashew butter before roasting, for an added crunch.