I recently spoke to students in the Philadelphia area about how to make better food choices in partnership with Grassland and thought you might enjoy what all I shared! We went with an “Eat This, Instead of That” theme, and I put A LOT of thought into the examples. I’ve been working with Grassland to help promote their new Non-GMO butter. When a product is “Non-GMO Project Verified” it means they can trace the absence of GMOs from seed to feed to table. Definitely a better choice for butter!
By the way, I bought every single item you see here at a convenience store in downtown Philadelphia. No fancy health food store required, AND the prices of the “eat this” items were almost all comparable to what I am suggesting they replace. :)
Eat This, Instead of That
- Roasted Nuts instead of Peanut Butter Cracker Packs
I know these peanut butter crackers are convenient, but instead of white flour (which is listed as “wheat” on the ingredient label rather than “whole wheat”), refined oils (that are probably GMO), added sugar, and corn syrup, choose your favorite roasted nuts instead. Bonus if they are dry-roasted (i.e., no refined oils as well).
- Cheerios instead of Honey Bunches of Oats
Cheerios are not perfect, but they are 100% whole grain and a much better option than a cereal like Honey Bunches of Oats that contains five different types of sugar AND, a deal-breaker for me, artificial flavors! And that used to be my cereal of choice before I cut out processed food. :( Now, I can’t imagine starting my day without homemade granola. But, if you don’t have it in you to make cereal, Cheerios is a better option than most!
- Brown Rice Cakes instead of Deep-Fried Potato Chips
Any potato chip is pretty much going to be deep-fried in refined oil. The food takes on so much of the oil when it’s cooked this way, so it’s a lot of what you end up consuming. Instead, how about some crunchy, whole grain (brown rice) cakes? You can top them in so many different ways. My daughter’s favorite is peanut butter and raisins. Hey, another alternative to those peanut butter crackers above! :)
- Plain Oatmeal (that you flavor yourself) instead of Flavored Packets of Oatmeal
These Quaker Instant Oatmeal packs lead you to believe they’re flavored with strawberries, but the ingredients sadly tell a much different story. Take a quick look at the back of the package and you’ll see it actually contains dehydrated apple pieces covered up with artificial strawberry flavor and red dye!! I can’t think of anything more deceiving. A good rule of thumb, whether it’s oatmeal, popcorn, or yogurt, is always to buy plain and flavor it yourself (naturally, of course)!
- Whole Grain Crackers instead of Refined Crackers (such as Ritz)
Triscuits aren’t perfect, but they’re made with only three ingredients and are 100% whole grain AND are also Non-GMO Project Verified. Definitely a more “real food” choice than Ritz with their refined white flour (listed as “wheat flour” without the word “whole”), sugar, partially hydrogenated oil (i.e., trans fat), and high-fructose corn syrup. No, thank you!
- Raisins or Applesauce instead of Fruit Cups in Sugary Syrup
It’s definitely better to choose an on-the-go fruity snack with only one ingredient (i.e., raisins or apple sauce) than one that is sitting in a liquid made from high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and regular corn syrup! Of course, there’s always the option of a piece of fresh fruit as well. :)
- Whole-Wheat Pasta instead of White or White “Plus” Pasta
Real food pasta should only have one ingredient … whole-grain flour! It’s usually listed as “Whole Durum Wheat Flour” or something similar. This simple whole-grain choice is often cheaper than the “plus” versions of pasta they offer these days, which contains a bunch of manufactured vitamins that you don’t even need if you’d just choose the real thing instead!
- Butter instead of Margarine
Avoiding processed foods means focusing on the real foods our ancestors have survived on for centuries before us. And one thing is for sure, they were not eating margarine (sometimes called “plant butter”), which is manufactured from refined vegetable oils and artificial flavors! Butter (made from just cream and salt) is a traditional food that’s been around for ages, and most definitely a staple in my real food home cooking. And if it’s Non-GMO Project Verified like Grassland, even better. :)
Do you see any examples here that you could easily switch out at your house? Please share in the comments!
21 thoughts on “Eat This, Instead of That (product comparisons!)”
I have a question about raisins vs. the canned fruit? Your message talks about heavy syrup but the photo shows 100% fruit juice. Are you saying that that is misleading also don’t raisins have added sugar? My family doesn’t like dried fruit and I always figured that was ok since they all have added sugar and I could buy fruit in fruit juice with no added sugar.
I like the Oatmeal, I usually eat oatmeal breakfast!!
These are really good for people who haven’t a clue about how to get healthy food. I really like Garden of Eatin blue corn chips (have no use at all for rice cakes), and there are some interesting vegetable chips out there as well that satisfy that need to crunch. I like the DeBoles green pasta(package says spinach), it may not be ideal but it is palatable -whole wheat pasta I have tried is not. Keep up the good work.
These are good swaps. Thank you.
I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog and your story. You were a huge inspiration to me. I’ve learned so much from you!
I agree 100% with this. We try to get people eating as much seafood as possible. Fresh seafood is so good for you but most people dont seem to want to eat it as often as they should
I would’ve put air popped popcorn in place of potato chips, instead of the rice crackers. Still easy to add seasoning, and way tastier than rice cakes… Plus, my kids consider it a big treat!
This is not a comment about this specific post, but to you in general. I have acid reflux, and took meds for it for years. Two years ago my Dr. told me that I should not be using meds for this condition as they are not good for your body long-term. I am an active person and have always been a healthy eater in general, but I took his advice and totally overhauled every minute detail of my diet, and have been medication-free for two whole years. That being said, I have had to give up many things like citrus, onions, tomatoes, peppers, dairy (except for cheeses,) bacon, alcohol, and I read food labels like a fiend (many acids are used to preserve foods, so we very minimal packaged foods these days. Store brand tortillas for example, contain 4 different types of acids.) Anyway, this makes finding usable recipes very difficult for me. I picked up your cookbook “100 Days of Real Food,” and it has been life-changing! Your recipes are perfect for my restrictive diet, and easy to modify or omit from if they contain things I can no longer eat. Thanks to you, my list of available meal options has expanded SO much!
Thank you for sharing your story. This is so great to hear! – Nicole
I grew up on whole wheat pasta, I don’t care for it, my family now does not care for it. So instead, we’ll enjoy our white flour pasta on occasion without concern. For some it isn’t worth the swap if it brings you no joy to eat it.
I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog, your story and your cookbooks. You were a huge inspiration to me when I began to change the way my family eats. I’ve learned so much from you! Thanks and Happy New Year!!!
I couldnt agree more!!!
My family myself included detest rice cakes/popcorn cakes. We’ve reached a compromise with chips. No, they’re not great, but with a family of dorito lovers, a mom has to make compromises. ?July makes decent flavored chips and I’ve found them at Aldi. We also buy kettle chips and if oul is an issue they’re now gound fried in avocado oil and coconut oil.
Rice cakes instead of potato chips….not comparable. IMHO..
I was thinking the exact same thing! And plain Lay’s are a much better choice than most other options with its list of 3 ingredients.
I think Lays chips are better than some things too. Just need to be eaten in moderation
I want to suggest a healthy alternative to French Fries. A small order of Burger King onion rings (approximately 2 oz.) has 180 calories and 9 grams of fat. Instead, try this: One cup of edamame: Boil shelled or unshelled for 3–5 minutes and sprinkle with sea salt. This snack has 189 calories and 8 grams of fat, but it’s packed with 8 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein. Hope you’ll like it :-)
Marcella Hazan’s easy pasta sauce (canned crushed tomatoes, butter, onion) instead of sugar-filled jarred spaghetti sauce.
These are good swaps,except I would skip store bought cereal all together. All store bought cereal, even organic has no nutritional value because of the way it is processed. Research how cereal is made and you may agree to skip cereal all together too. Homemade granola is a great alternative to cereal, I know you would agree.
Hi Tamara, yes, while we agree that skipping the box stuff all together would be the healthier option, Lisa wanted to show that there are better alternatives to different boxed products. And we love making homemade granola! Have you tried this recipe yet? https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/recipe-granola-bars-cereal/