Simple food swaps can keep meals healthful

Published on March 03, 2022

Grocery shopper holds a canned food item

Weld County, Colorado — The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE) recommends creative options for healthy meals during National Nutrition Month.

“Since March is National Nutrition month, consider making some simple food swaps that will help you get dinner on the table without too much difficulty,” says WCDPHE registered dietitian nutritionist Mike Schwan. “This is an opportunity to put a spin on a traditional family dish. With ongoing supply issues, sometimes your favorite food product is on back-order or simply unavailable.”

Schwan suggests the following simple food swaps for creating family-friendly meals:

  • Fruits and vegetables: “If you don’t see your favorite fresh produce, look for canned or frozen versions. Choose canned fruits in their own juice and low-sodium canned vegetables. If you can’t find low-sodium canned vegetables, rinse before cooking.”
  • Grains: “Consider swapping white rice for jasmine rice, basmati rice, brown rice, barley, couscous, farro, orzo, or quinoa. Consider whole-wheat pasta to add more fiber to your meal. If you can’t find your favorite bread, consider making your sandwich with whole-wheat wraps or tortilla shells.”
  • Protein: “Swap ground beef for ground chicken, turkey, or soy products like tofu or tempeh. Make Taco Tuesday meatless by swapping meat for canned low-sodium black beans. If you can’t find canned beans, buy dried beans and soak them in advance to prepare them for cooking. If fresh eggs are in short supply, try an egg substitute and follow directions on how to incorporate it into your dishes.”
  • Dairy: “If you can’t find your favorite flavor of low-fat yogurt, try plain Greek yogurt with fruit instead. For recipes that call for ricotta cheese, opt for cottage cheese.”

“Instead of becoming discouraged during your next trip to the grocery store, consider it an opportunity to expand your horizons and try something new,” Schwan said. “You might get lucky and stumble onto a new family favorite.”

Learn more about developing and sticking to a healthy eating plan from the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Program, or set up an appointment with a WCDPHE nutrition educator by calling (970) 400-6420.