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Healthy food substitutes: What foods can you swap to make a healthy meal?

To celebrate the start of the free online course Nutrition and Wellbeing from The University of Aberdeen, FutureLearn is challenging you to get creative in the kitchen. Tell us the food substitutes you use to create delicious, nutritious meals using #MyHealthHack.

Green tea latte
Fancy a green tea latte? What foods do you swap to make a healthy meal? Tell us using #MyHealthHack.

Eating healthily doesn’t have to be about creating a super duper healthy meal from scratch. And it doesn’t have to be boring either. There’s lots of fun you can have just by substituting a not so healthy ingredient with a more nutritious one.

Quinoa paella
A quinoa paella, with thanks to LaaLoosh Recipes.

For example, Dr Alex Johnstone, a nutritionist from The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and one of the lead educators on the course, recommends creating a yummy super food paella, by replacing rice with quinoa. Alex says:

“Quinoa is a nutritious alternative to white rice, as it’s a good source of protein and is rich in fibre, iron and magnesium.”

If you’d like to try this yourself, here’s a recipe from food blogger, Wendy Zitman.

10 ideas for healthy food substitutes

We asked the team at FutureLearn for some of their health hacks too. Here are their top 10:

  1. Swap your morning coffee for a matcha latte, made from anti-oxidant-rich green tea powder.
  2. Swap salty potato crisps for low-fat vegetable crisps, like parsnips or beetroots.
  3. Swap vegetable oil for coconut oil for a nutritious stir-fry or other lightly fried meals.
  4. Swap traditional spaghetti pasta for “courgetti” – boiled or lightly fried strips of courgette.
  5. Start the day with lemon water to aid digestion, instead of your usual builders’ tea or morning coffee.
  6. Swap ice-cream for frozen yoghurt for a yummy and healthy dessert.
  7. Swap flour tortillas for sushi paper to make tasty fajitas.
  8. Swap batter and milk for bananas and egg to make pancakes.
  9. Swap white rice for cauliflower rice by pulsing and gently frying.
  10. Combine a mix of lentils, quinoa and buckwheat (rather than pasta or rice) with basil and tomatoes, to make a light summer salad.

Follow @FutureLearn and share #MyHealthHack to take part in the challenge. Or if you don’t use social media, add your tip in the comments below.

Inspired by #MyHealthHack? You can join Nutrition and Wellbeing now – it’s free, and will demystify the complex and conflicting messages we often hear about food, diet and health.

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