I was just at a client’s house the other day doing a “kitchen upgrade.” Jane and I love doing this with clients because we get a real peek into exactly what they are eating. We are able to look at labels right on the spot and help them identify why something may not be as nutritious as it may seem. At the same time we get the opportunity to offer healthier substitutions.
Having said that, we wanted to give you 4 easy upgrades that you can do today (or next time you go to the store) that won’t compromise on taste.
- Ditch: Canola oil . . . In favor of: Avocado oil
Or as we say, get an oil change! For the past few decades, canola oil has been touted as a “heart healthy” oil. However, the majority of canola oil on the market today is genetically modified and refined. You can read more about canola and its history here. Our version of heart healthy oils would include avocado (great for higher heat) and extra virgin olive oil (anti-inflammatory and packed with antioxidants, but not to be used on high heat over 375).
- Ditch: Fake maple syrup (aka those 2 women well known for their “syrup”). . . In favor of: Pure maple syrup
Under the apron or dress of those famous syrup women you will find high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. When you use pure maple syrup, you are getting some minerals, antioxidants (the darker, the better), and eating something natural vs. refined. We advise using a small amount, but a little can go a long way!
- Ditch: Commercial peanut butter (you know, the ones that choosy mother’s choose) . . . In favor of: Natural organic peanut, almond, or other nut or seed butter
No need to get all those additional ingredients, such as corn syrup solids, hydrogenated solids and sugar in the Skippys and Jifs. And buyer beware. Take a close look at any label that might seem healthy sounding, such as Simply Jif. Its ingredient list includes fully hydrogenated rapeseed (canola) and soybean oil, mono and diglycerides, molasses, sugar and salt. BIG negatives for hydrogenation and GMO sourced oils, and no need for added sugar. Stick with a brand that offers two natural ingredients: just peanuts (or almonds or cashews) and salt. And no need to head to the health food store. Most every supermarket will have a decent choice (or two or three).
- Ditch: Instant Oatmeal . . . In favor of Qia Cereal
Instant packets of oatmeal are super popular among kids and grown ups alike. But aside from the high sugar content (about 12 grams in your average packet, which equals 3 teaspoons), they are devoid of protein or fat, which can help tremendously with satiety, weight loss, and energy. Those brands that DO carry extra protein (think Quaker Weight Control for instance), has artificial sweeteners to keep the sugar down (no thanks), and uses soy protein isolate for the added protein, which is a very processed form of soy and can interfere with hormones. Though we are huge fans of making your own oats from scratch, we admit that we love new new Qia cereal line. Just as quick as instant oats, but made with chia and hemp seeds with additional buckwheat. It boasts 7 grams of healthy fat, 6 grams of natural protein from the seeds, and 4 grams of fiber. Add a teaspoon of pure maple syrup or raw honey and still save over 60% on your sugar intake.
Bottom line? Natural is always better. No matter how savvy the label reads, the real test is to look at the ingredient list to see what’s REALLY underneath the hood. To find out more about why we don’t like using artificial sweeteners of any kind, read our blog post about that HERE.
There are so many brands of coconut oil and peanut butter are there any suggestions on what brands to look for?
Hi Sharlene! I would search for any organic brand of either. For peanut butter, look for a brand that has ONLY peanuts and salt as the two ingredients, nothing else. Depending on where you live, there are different brands. Trader Joes and Wegmans often have their own brands. You can always find something in Whole Foods, like even their 365 brand. For coconut oil, we typically recommend anything that is organic and unrefined. It will say so on the label. Many supermarkets are now carrying a brand or two that are okay. Nutiva is pretty popular. You can also order on a site called VitaCost.com which has amazing choices and great prices. Hope that helps!