When it comes to weight loss, we know the main culprits to stay away from - take away, chips, lollies, soft drinks and other highly processed foods. Most of us need to go out of our way to buy these foods as we don’t usually consider them pantry staples that are on our everyday shopping list. Although we love indulging in that packet of Oreos or that serve of french fries, we know they are bad for our health and should stay away from them when trying to lose weight.
What about the foods that ARE pantry staples though? Some of these may be ruining your weight loss efforts and you might not even know it! If you are used to seeing the same foods in the pantry all the time, it can be hard to recognise they aren't the best things for our health; especially if we don't label them as ‘junk foods’. When starting out on a healthy eating journey it can be really hard to cut out foods you are always eating. So instead of going cold turkey, swapping for better alternatives is a great way to get the best of both worlds. Keep reading to find out what these deceivably unhealthy pantry staples are and what you can swap them with to make weight loss easier.
Low-sodium Stock VS Regular Stock
Whether it be chicken, vegetable or beef stock most of these are really high in sodium (salt) and can account for up to 40% of your daily recommended sodium intake. Stock is a great food to add flavour to almost any savoury dish from quinoa to soups, mashed potatoes, veggies and casseroles. Swap regular stock for low-sodium (salt-reduced) stock - even better if you can find an organic one!
Wholemeal Pasta VS White Pasta
Almost everybody enjoys a steaming bowl of white pasta with their favourite sauce. It is also one of the best ingredients for a quick, cheap and easy weeknight meal when you have forgot to do the food shopping or are feeling lazy. However white carbs are a big no-no when it comes to losing weight as they are broken down easily and can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. There are many alternatives to white pasta, but if you are a hardcore pasta lover, then my favourite is wholemeal pasta. It may take a while to get used to the slightly different texture, but if you stick with it you will get used to it. The trick is to add a tasty sauce filled with veggies and lean meats. The same thing goes with white bread, swap for wholemeal - the darker and less processed the better (think of tons of seeds etc).
Brown Rice VS White Rice
Rice is another staple that is so versatile and is used in a number of dishes. White rice is the same as white pasta, in that its reduced fibre content means that you are less likely to stay full. The best swap for white rice is quinoa, which is packed full of protein. If you don’t really enjoy the flavour or texture of quinoa no matter how hard you try, another one of my favourite alternatives is brown rice. Brown rice is cooked exactly the same way as white rice, but just a little bit longer. If you are worried about burning your pots and pans, then you should invest in a rice cooker, which cooks your rice perfectly every time!
Raw Cacao VS Cocoa
Cocoa is a baking staple in SO many pantries, and let’s be honest we have all probably sprinkled it over our cereal at one point or another. Not only is cocoa exposed to incredibly high heats during processing, but it often contain added sugars, fat and milk solids to give it that sweet flavour. If you use cocoa regularly I would swap it for raw cacao. While it is slightly more expensive, it is generally better quality. Raw cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which is also why it has quite a bitter taste. It is packed with antioxidants, minerals, and healthy fats. I love using raw cacao powder in my smoothies as it adds richness without leaving you feeling guilty.
Dry Beans VS Canned Beans
Canned beans are super convenient if you are having a lazy night as they are easy to chuck into almost any dish for added fibre and protein. The problem with canned beans is they are usually full of sodium (more than you need) and preservatives to keep them lasting longer. I recommend that you swap these for dried beans, as you can still enjoy all of the benefits that they offer without the nasties! Yes, this does mean you have to soak them yourself BUT you can easily soak up a big batch overnight, drain them in the morning then freeze what is left for the next time you need them. You can then take them out with no defrosting needed!
Panko Bread Crumbs VS Regular Ones
Bread crumbs are just bread crumbs, right? No questions asked. If you read the ingredients list on your box, you may be surprised. They are usually filled with artificial flavours, preservatives, oils and a ton of other things you probably can’t even pronounce. Swap them with panko bread crumbs which should have a shorter ingredient list and also half the calories of the regular kind. Panko bread crumbs are made without using the crust and are lighter and slightly bigger than regular bread crumbs. They are also crunchier and absorb less oil - winning!
Avocados VS Butter
This is a weirder swap but an awesome one. Avocados are perfect to use instead of butter in baking recipes because all the ingredients are getting mixed together and you can’t tell the difference in the end results. When baking cakes, cookies, muffins etc add the same amount of avocado as you would butter. It adds the same creaminess and texture without the calories, and you can't even taste the difference. The best bit is avocados are full of healthy fats so you are literally swapping a bad fat for a better one! Avocado is also great used as a spread on toast instead of butter.
Spices VS Salt
Salt is overused in SO many households, we tend to add it to everything even though so many foods already have added sodium. Excess sodium can make you bloated and cause you to hold onto weight. Instead, swap salt for herbs and spices in recipes, which will also add a flavour kick. For example, rather than seasoning chicken with salt and pepper use oregano and garlic powder, or your favourite spice combination. One of my favourites is smoked paprika, dried coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper for a mexican style chicken.
I hope these tips have helped!