We live in a world where junky, processed foods are in our faces at all times. We have become a population living on a diet based on convenience and taste rather than nutrition. Food manufacturers lure us in with claims of “heart-healthy” or “a great source of fiber” on their packaging. The truth is, no matter how you dress up the box, it’s still highly processed, the very worst of the worst stuff to be putting into your precious body and you deserve better… and there are better options.
Whole Foods History
Think pre-agriculture, before the times of manipulating foods to fill the grocery store shelves with ready-to-eat or heat-and-serve varieties of foods. Back to the times of growing foods and then eating them, and when people hunted or fished to provide for their families. Why did we start modernizing what was already nutritional excellence?
Preserving foods with salt dates back to ancient times, but 19th and 20th-century food processing firstly became necessary to serve the needs of military personnel.
It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century when processing advancements were aimed towards the convenience of both preservation and convenience.
Marketing strategies pointed directly at working wives and moms who were eager to purchase anything that promised to have dinner on the table in an instant. Technology continues to advance. As a society though, we are becoming less tolerant of chemically-enhanced boxed dinners and ingredient labels that read more like science experiments.
Whole Foods Defined
So, what exactly are whole foods? We can assume by now that it definitely isn’t found in a box or can with an indefinite shelf-life. Whole foods are things we
consume as close to their natural state as possible.
From the farm to the table is an easy way to remember it. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great example of whole foods. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans are examples of whole foods that require minimal processing before they can be consumed.
Delicious Whole Foods Substitutes for Processed Favorites
In truth, many of us cringe when we think about letting go of processed foods. These heat-and-eat and grab-and-go foods are a boon for the busy lives our society has come to know. We rely on the convenience but sacrifice nutrition and taste. However, opting for whole foods doesn’t have to be a painful experience. Take a look at the substitutions below to get a feel for the deliciousness to come when you are trying to incorporate more whole foods.
Spiralized Zucchini instead of Pasta
When you’ve got a hankering for a pasta dish, instead of using a bag or box of pasta, spiralize a couple of zucchini and dunk it in boiling water for 3 min before serving. You can even use spiralized zucchini in cold pasta salads, just skip the boiling and toss it in your salad raw.
Riced Cauliflower instead of White Rice
Brown rice, basmati rice and jasmine rice are way better for you than instant white rice, which is stripped of nearly all nutritional value leaving nothing but starch and the remnants of what used to be a grain. If you want to go a step further, try ricing some cauliflower and eliminate rice altogether.
Use a food processor or even a grater to turn a head of cauliflower into small enough bits that it actually looks just like rice. The best part is you can use this pretty much the same way you would have used rice. It goes great in casseroles, stews and stir-fry dishes. You can even make cheesy riced cauliflower fritters! Use
your imagination and the possibilities are endless.
Veggie Sticks and Hummus instead of Chips and Dip
Cut up celery and carrots into sticks enjoy with your favorite hummus recipe. Veggie sticks give a crunch like a chip and you don’t have to miss out on the dip flavors as there are tons of ways to flavor hummus as well. Also, hummus is an excellent substitute for mayonnaise on sandwiches.
Fresh Fruit instead of Canned Fruits, Snack Cups and Fruit Juice
Those snack cups are super convenient but loaded with sugar and other preservatives. And bottled fruit juice is never really 100% pure juice. Opt for a piece of fresh fruit instead. You can add fresh fruits to cereals, dessert recipes or just enjoy it as a snack. Most fruits are packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
A Few More Tasty Substitutes
Steel-cut oats instead of sugar-coated cold cereals; add some fresh fruit to sweeten it up.
Water instead of soda; infuse it with lemon, lime, or other natural fruit for a flavor boost.
Fresh fruit on a salad instead of croutons or crackers.
Grind your own peanut butter instead of buying a jar off the shelf. Many grocery stores have a bulk foods section with a grinder if you don’t have one at home.
Dehydrated/dried fruits and vegetables to satisfy a sweet tooth instead of packaged candy.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate more whole foods and wean off the processed varieties upon which we’ve become dependent. With a little thought and preparation, you can make your own trail mix, granola bars, hummus and
fruit-infused water so you’ll be ready for the cravings or when you are on the go and time is of the essence. Be creative and try new recipes. You won’t know how versatile nature really is until you dig in and give it a go!