The first step toward cooking clean food is to fill your pantry with the foundations of a plant-based diet: whole grains, beans, and other legumes, and healthy fats, plus some natural flavor enhancers. Making some nutritious substitutions can also help.
Replace a few items with healthier options – choosing quinoa over couscous and olive oil instead of vegetable oil – as a good way to ease into a cleaner diet. Start with these:
Replace Sour Cream with Yogurt
Cup for cup, whole-milk yogurt has less than half the calories and one third the total fat of sour cream. Use it in dips and dressings and to top soups.
Replace Cream Cheese with Almond Butter
With more fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, plus heart-healthy fat, almond butter makes a great alternative to cream cheese on toast and sandwiches.
Replace Mayonnaise with Avocado
Looking for something rich and creamy to spread on a sandwich? Try mashed avocado. Per tablespoon, this mild, buttery fruit has about half the fat (and mostly the “good” kind) plus ample fiber.
Replace White Potato with Sweet Potato
Baked, roasted, or mashed, sweet potatoes offer all the comfort-food satisfaction of white potatoes – but with much more nutrition.
Replace Iceberg Lettuce with Romaine Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce is no nutritional star, but it adds nice crunch to salads, tacos, and sandwiches. Romaine is just as crunchy, but offers more fiber and other nutrients.
Replace Milk Chocolate with Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate gets its signature bitter flavor from flavonoids, heart protecting antioxidants that milk chocolate contains in short supply.
Replace Croutons with Walnuts
Like croutons, walnuts add heft and texture to salads. But thanks to their protein, fiber, and healthy fat, they also add long-lasting energy.
Replace Button Mushrooms with Shiitake Mushrooms
Mushrooms provide more nutrients than they get credit for, but shiitakes stand out for their combination of great flavor and cancer-fighting properties.
Note: This doesn’t mean button mushrooms or white potatoes are “bad” for you. It’s just that, whenever possible, you should make the healthier option your default one.