SWAP!

In Shanatopia, I would grow, pick, and prepare all of my own food.

A 9-5 job and an extreme lack of any agricultural skill make this next to impossible.

The "garden"

But learning how to choose minimally processed and wholesome foods has been a continuous and utterly confusing journey.

You know, I guess it’s not the processing that bothers me because almost all foods are processed in some way or another.  Highly nutritious foods like milk, yogurt, olive oil, and grains undergo some processing before they hit store shelves. Even if you frequent your local farmer’s market and select the freshest, organic produce odds are that you are going to take your juicy beefsteak tomatoes or zucchini and make your grandmother’s famous spaghetti sauce or maybe a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread. However you prepare your produce, it usually goes through some sort of process before it goes in your mouth.

So it’s not so much the processing that is bothersome, it’s all the chemicals, additives, and artificial flavorings that are so disturbing.

Take seemingly innocent yogurt for example.

I eat it almost every day.

Blame it on those darn Yoplait commercials that sucked me in with their enticing dessert-like flavors. Boston Creme Pie! Strawberry Cheesecake! Pina Colada!

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But some of the yogurts  have ridiculous amounts of added sugars, sweeteners, colors, and other scientific and non-food sounding ingredients (exact ingredients aren’t even listed on the Yoplait website).

If blueberry yogurt is going to be blue, I prefer it turn that color from actual fruit and not FD &C  Blue # 2

Not to mention that original yogurts (not fat free) have almost as much added sugar as a Snicker’s bar.

That’s just silly!

It’s just as easy to buy a big ol’ tub of plain yogurt and add whatever fruit my little heart desires that day. Throw some frozen blueberries and yogurt into a small container in the morning before work and the blueberries will be thawed and ready to mix by lunch time.  I save myself from ingesting unnecessary ingredients, get the added benefit of real, whole fruits, and I save money in the process.

Yogurt bowl: 3/4 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup pumpkin mixed with 1 tsp. molasses and sprinkle of cinnamon + 1/4 cup granola.

The easiest way to make sure you’re not consuming chemicals that you wouldn’t touch without a lab coat and goofy looking goggles is to look for short ingredient lists. See if you can find foods with less than five ingredients listed.

Take the SWAP challenge!

Swap out chemical heavy foods with their whole (or as close to whole as you are willing to go) counterparts.

Like cereal? Try quick cooking oats and add your own toppings (You can even eat it cold!).

Like M & M’s? Try Chocolate covered Almonds

Like potato chips? Pop your own popcorn

Like flavored yogurts? Buy plain and add your own fruit, honey, and granola

Like JIF? Try natural creamy peanut butter or sunflower butter

Like Snickers? Try peanuts with a square of dark chocolate

Like ice cream bars? Try a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts

What’s that? It doesn’t taste the same? I know. It’s because your taste buds forgot what food tastes like without a pound of sugar added. Remember how you had to feed your baby peas and carrots 37 times until they learned to like them? It’s the same for adults. You will learn to love and even crave these foods. Try it for a week. You’ll love it. I promise.

I already know what I eat on a day-to-day basis but I want to hear from you!

What swaps will you make this week?

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6 thoughts on “SWAP!

  1. I’ll give the yogurt swap a try. I never knew that they had that much artificial stuff and I love yogurt. I saw frozen fruits in Super G the other day…peaches, blueberries, strawberries, even Mangos…

    The chocolate covered almonds sound pretty good too. I’m not very creative, but I’ll use your suggestions and slowly grow! 🙂

    Is the Greek Yogurt just as bad? I’ll have to pay more attention.

    • Not all yogurts have the artificial stuff and some of the greek ones that I’ve seen have natural sugar or honey and real fruit but I still prefer to add my own. I can get big tub of plain yogurt with 4 (1 cup) servings and a bag of frozen berries for under $4.00 and make 8 (1/2 cup) servings and still have blueberries leftover. Some of the individual greek yogurts are over $1 each! So it saves a ton of money and you get REAL food. Let me know what interesting combinations you come up with. I am always looking for new ideas!

  2. I’ve swapped regular margaritas for Skinny Girl Margaritas! Hahaha!

    And drive thru Vanilla Chai Tea for sugar free Maxwell House cappaccino (yeah, still processed), and over the counter salsa for home-made salsa! So freakin’ yummy! Ummmm, but can’t seem to trade tortilla chips for anything. What’s a girl to use to have a little crunch with her salsa?

    • Ker, you have me craving skinny girl margaritas and I don’t even like them! Cappaccino is easy to make at home. Mix half coffee, half milk, and a little sweetener or cocoa powder (It’s technically a latte but who cares?). Corn tortilla chips are whole grain and if you bake them at home they will have less fat. EVERYBODY NEEDS CRUNCH! PS did you see my post on Chai Tea? Totally rivals Java the hut.

  3. I commented once, but I don’t know where it went. I’m sort of a whole/processed anomaly. I like my airpopped popcorn, but I also eat fat-free chips. Good quality dark chocolate rocks, but I’m also a big SKOR girl. Plain yogurt at breakfast, but pre-packaged, Splenda-sweetened individual containers for breakfast…so what are ya gonna do with that? 😉

    • I think it’s incredibly difficult to not eat processed foods. I think in the end its about putting as much good food into your body as you can and hoping for the best! I still eat a lot of processed foods and wanted to sort of publish the journey.

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