Easy Paleo Swaps

8 easy paleo swaps to make your transition to paleo/real food/grain-free/dairy-free/legume-free eating go more smoothly. 

When you are first starting to eat a paleo or more whole foods based diet (or going grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free), it can be hard to imagine life without some of you favorite staples and comfort foods. I get it, I was there. The key in this situation is to slowly make changes and eventually you'll forget that you ever even ate sandwiches with bread. It's true...I promise! 

Here are some super easy, paleo/grain-free/dairy-free/legume-free swaps you can make so you don't have to give up your morning coffee or your lunchtime sandwich!

Coconut milk, almond milk, or butter in your coffee instead of creamer/half-and-half.

Getting rid of the cream in your coffee can be one of the hardest things about changing your diet. The good news is, once you've gotten rid of it for awhile (I recommend at least 30 days), you can add it back in and see if you can tolerate it (you can join my free 30 day challenge to get your body and digestion in awesome shape and learn about what foods are making you feel good vs making you feel awful). 

Non-dairy options have come a long way in recent years, so you have no shortage of options. Beware of things that say they are coffee creamers because they are usually full of junky ingredients. However, almond milk (read the ingredients) and canned coconut milk are two options that will make your coffee the right color of brown each morning (you may have to adjust your visual assessment based on how it tastes as almond milk is a bit thinner than half-and-half). Another delicious option is to add a teaspoon or so of grass-fed butter (I like Kerrygold) and pop the whole lot in the blender. You'll get a creamy, frothy delicious cup of buttery coffee out of it!

Sweet potato or other starchy vegetable like squash with dinner instead of bread or rice

Getting rid of bread, pasta, and rice can be one of the hardest things about this lifestyle change. People I work with on food things always say "I can't give up bread." I'm here to tell you that you can, but it might not be easy. 

When you go to a restaurant, simply tell them you don't want them to bring a bread basket to the table. Then you won't even be tempted. When you are at home, be sure to plan other delicious starchy things to take the place of the bread/rice/pasta. Sweet potatoes and roasted red potatoes are my favorite substitute (because roasted potatoes are like french fries). Seriously though, don't skip the starchy veggies, you'll definitely be left looking for that "something more" if you do. 

Fruit with nut butter instead of granola or protein bar for a snack

Snacking can be challenging, especially when you are used to just grabbing whatever is available. Now you suddenly have to pay attention to what you are eating and do a little planning. That can be daunting and annoying. The good news is that fruit, like a banana or apple, and almond or cashew butter are almost as easy as grabbing a granola bar and they offer way more nutrition!

The hardest part is remembering to have these things with you when it suddenly becomes snack time. 

Try lettuce wraps instead of sandwiches

Giving up sandwiches can make your lunch routine a little more challenging. The good news is that you can pretty much put anything that you would put between two slices of bread, into a lettuce leaf instead (except PB&J, that might be kind of gross)! You can also use cabbage leaves or blanched collard leaves if lettuce isn't your thing.

Slap some mayo, lunch meat, and other veggies on a lettuce leaf and enjoy!

Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate

The darker the better. But don't start out too dark or you might think you don't like it. Dark chocolate can be a little bitter if you are used to eating super sweet milk chocolate. Ease your way into the darkest chocolate you can stand (80% dark chocolate now tastes sweet to me) and you'll get the benefits of less sugar, more magnesium, and still enjoy delicious chocolate!

Spaghetti squash or zoodles instead of pasta

The good thing about pasta is that it doesn't have much flavor and is usually just a vessel for sauce. Spaghetti squash and zucchini noodle (zoodles) also do not have a strong flavor and do an equally great job of getting the sauce from the plate to your mouth. There is going to be a slight difference in texture (a little more crunchy than pasta), but you'll hardly notice the difference at all! 

Almond butter instead of peanut butter

Peanut butter can be hard to give up. Especially if you like the kind with lots of sugar in it (even if you don't give up PB, you should be buying PB with only peanuts and salt as ingredients). Personally, I prefer almond or cashew butter over peanut butter. Sunflower seed butter is another good option. All of these go well on fruit or in your fruit and veggie packed smoothies. 

Soda water or kombucha instead of soda

If you need a fizzy beverage, I definitely recommend trying kombucha or something like La Croix soda water. Kombucha is a fermented food so it has tons of probiotics in it. La Croix is good for satisfying the need for something fizzy without any extra calories or sugar. They are flavored (subtle) so it's kind of like having a treat. My favorite flavor is the Peach-Pear and the coconut. 

What food(s) would you have the hardest time giving up? Is that what is preventing your from making a change in your diet? 

If you want to make changes in your life but feel you lack the knowledge and/or support, I am now offering one-on-one coaching services! Feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions!!