Six healthy food swaps for the New Year

·3-min read

Eating better and exercising more tend to be common New Year's resolutions.

But rather than setting out the same goals each January, why not look to make some smart food swaps that are easy to incorporate into your everyday routine? Kate Delmar-Morgan, registered nutritional therapist at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ion.ac.uk), shares her top tips.

Mashed potato for root veggies

Though mashed potato is a real comfort food for many people, there are many other root vegetables that are just as delicious.

"Potatoes have a high glycaemic index (GI), particularly when mashed, meaning they release sugar quickly and can cause a rapid rise in blood sugars; this is often followed by a subsequent 'crash' which can make you feel drowsy and unproductive," noted Kate. "Swapping your favourite mashed potato for a lower GI option made from sweet potato, celeriac, carrot or swede can offer greater nutrition, and helps to stabilise blood sugars. This will also give you a greater variety of vegetables in your diet and provide you with a wider range of nutrients and more consistent energy."

Regular pizza for cauliflower

Boost your nutrition by substituting a regular pizza for one made with a cauliflower base - or whip up your own at home!

"Cauliflower is a useful ingredient that you can use to replace a regular pizza base - it will help to reduce your intake of commercial white wheat flour and provides a lower carbohydrate option. A cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower also contains lots of fibre and vitamin C and will increase your overall vegetable intake," she shared.

Try kale chips

While crisps are easy to munch on, there are much better snack alternatives out there.

"Kale is a cruciferous vegetable containing fibre, vitamins C and K, iron and calcium. Unlike commercial crisps, homemade kale crisps aren't ultra-processed, so won't contain any added sugar, salt, unhealthy fat or preservatives which have been linked with obesity, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure," the expert explained. "Cut the leaves from the kale stalks and rip into smaller bite-size pieces. Massage with olive oil and spread out onto a baking tray; bake in the oven for up to 10 minutes at 180 C. Add a pinch of salt before serving. Note: keep an eye on them in the oven as they can turn from crispy to burned very quickly."

White rice for quinoa

Quinoa makes a wonderful replacement for high GI white rice, served with curries or chilli. "While it may take a bit more time to cook, it is a complete source of protein - containing all nine essential amino acids - and is packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals," said Kate.

Go for kombucha

If you are looking to cut back on soda or alcohol, kombucha can make a great replacement.

"A mildly fizzy, slightly sour drink made from fermented tea, kombucha is a source of probiotics (good bacteria), is rich in antioxidants and contains vitamins and minerals. Making your own kombucha is delicious but requires a bit of effort. You can also buy kombucha from supermarkets or online, in a variety of flavours. Enjoy in a wine or cocktail glass with ice," she continued, adding that kombucha is not advised during pregnancy.

Ditch fruit-flavoured yoghurts

Even though yoghurt is often perceived as healthy, low fat, fruit-flavoured yoghurts are extremely high in added sugar.

"Swap for natural or Greek yoghurt topped with berries or chopped mango and banana," commented Kate. "Check the ingredients list for added sugar and preservatives; the most natural yoghurts will usually contain no more than milk and 'live active' cultures. Full-fat natural yoghurt often tastes much nicer than a low-fat alternative."

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