Try This, Not That: Pantry & Freezer Edition

The Try This, Not That Healthy Swaps series continues and this week is all about your freezer and pantry.

Freezers and pantries can house excellent staples and wellness boosters OR some of the worst wellness offenders. This week, I am helping you switch out the offenders for better and healthier alternatives.

Full Transparency: I do NOT have financial affiliations with any of the brands mentioned below. They are products that I personally buy and give a thumb’s up — free of conflict of interest.

Instead of a Lean Cuisine . . . Try Amy’s Organics

I think of frozen meals as last resorts, preferring fresh and homemade meals. However, there are times when you absolutely need something quick and portable. Enter the frozen meal!

In college, I ate a Lean Cuisine almost every single day. It curdles my stomach to think of it now (all the artificial flavors and preservatives!). The names on the boxes seemed enticing, but the taste was always disappointing. And to be honest, I was almost always hungry afterward (which made me consider eating another one!).

A better frozen food option comes from Amy’s Organics. These frozen meals contain real organic food. You can get bowls, enchiladas, tamales, and more. And if you are vegan or gluten-free, they even have options for you. If plastics concern you, rest assured Amy's Organics uses paper trays for their frozen meals.

Instead of Splenda . . . Try Raw Honey (or Stevia)

Splenda and other artificial sweeteners may seem innocuous, but in reality are detrimental to your health. Multiple studies show those that consume artificial sweeteners gain more weight and have increased risk of heart disease. More evidence to convince you to avoid these wellness zappers? Fertility concerns; decreased fertility is seen in men and women that consume artificial sweeteners.

Stock your pantry with a natural sweetener. Raw honey is an excellent option. If you are dead set on a no calorie sweetener, try stevia. Personally, I prefer liquid stevia, but many enjoy the sugar-like granules.

Instead of Skippy Peanut Butter . . . Try Adam’s, 365, or Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter

You would think peanut butter would just contain peanuts, right? Wrong! Most conventional peanut butters add a host of ingredients, including toxic partially hydrogenated oils. Check last week’s post if you want a better understanding of why you should stay away from partially hydrogenated oils (a fancy name for trans fats). As consumers become savvier about the dangers of partially hydrogenated oils, the newest fad is to shift to fully hydrogenated oils. While fully hydrogenated oils are likely not as harmful as their partial counterparts, I would still steer clear of them.

If you love peanut butter, swap out the Skippy and Jif for Adam’s (the peanut butter of my youth), 365 (Whole Food’s house brand), or even Trader Joe’s. These options contain just the basics: peanuts plus salt. No artificial flavors or ingredients.

Instead of Brown Sugar . . . Try Coconut Sugar

I grew up thinking brown sugar was healthier. I assumed, like brown bread, it had superior qualities to white sugar. Boy was I wrong!

Brown sugar in the United States is processed to white sugar and then has brown coloring added back to it. Which means there are no additional health benefits to brown sugar.

Instead, try coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is darker colored and provides food with a rich and natural sweetness. When raw honey or maple syrup won’t do the trick, I go for coconut sugar.

Instead of Soy Sauce . . . Try Liquid Aminos

They may sound kooky, but liquid aminos taste delicious and enhance flavor. They contain less sodium than soy sauce or tamari while still packing a major flavor punch. If you are gluten sensitive, liquid aminos are an excellent alternative for gluten-containing soy sauce. Plus, the Bragg brand is non-GMO. Liquid aminos are a pantry staple for me.

Take the Try This, Not That Challenge!

Pick one item from your pantry or freezer and swap it for a healthier alternative. Trial it for the week . . . and give it a few tries before you make a final decision. If you palate is used to sugar- and oil-laden peanut butter, natural and unadulterated peanut butter may seem foreign at first. Rest assured this is a completely natural reaction and shows progress. Because you are resetting your palate to enjoy natural and healthier alternatives to enrich your wellness.

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