5 Simple Swaps for More Nutritious Meals

5 Simple Swaps for More Nutritious Meals

You may have go-to recipes for your meal-prepped lunches and weeknight dinners, but have considered how to shake them up to add some more nutrition? For a low lift, you can give your favorite foods a major nutritional boost.

Do you usually add mayo to your Caesar salad? Try using avocado instead to infuse the dish with heart-healthy fats. And instead of topping that salad with your typical croutons, try getting your crunch factor from antioxidant-rich pecans (toasted, of course).

If you typically use cream cheese and/or sour cream to make your spinach-artichoke dip, try subbing in Greek yogurt to achieve that tangy creaminess with some added protein.

The world is your swappable oyster.

1. Mayo  mashed avocado

Avocados offer creamy-dreamy goodness with a hefty dose of fiber, heart-healthy fats and potassium. The green-hued fruit has undeniable star power that shines through in just about any dish. As if you needed more proof than guac, there are salads with avocado and avocado toast … I could go on and on. So, I will! Mashed avocado makes for a scrumptious spread for sammies and wraps. One important note: It has to be ripe so it’s creamy enough to spread. (If you find it’s too stiff, you may need to mash it in a bowl with a fork before spreading.) I use about 1/4 to 1/3 avocado per wrap, and you can slather it right down the center or around the entire perimeter. If you choose to use it on a sandwich, you may want to toast your bread first so the bread doesn’t break apart. And don’t tell anyone: I even use avocado instead of mayo in my Caesar Dressing.

Caprese Caesar Wrap

Joy Bauer

2. Croutons  toasted pecans

Crunch! Crunch! That’s the sound of crispy satisfaction coming straight from your salad bowl. No, they’re not croutons, they’re toasted pecans, which offer a similar texture and feel but with heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. And the flavor? Buttery, nutty and gently sweet. Note that toasting pecans intensifies the flavor and crunch, so it’s a must. Here’s the easiest way to make toasted pecans.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Courtesy Joy Bauer

3. Brown rice  farro 

Brown rice is an obvious winner. The whole grain delivers vitamins, minerals and some fiber, and it’s versatile enough to complement to just about any meal. While brown rice has earned a regular spot in many homes, farro is an ancient grain worth getting to know. That’s because it provides more than double the amount of fiber and protein compared to brown rice and is just as easy to make. It has a lighter flavor than brown rice, slightly nutty and a bit sweet (some even say with subtle hints of cinnamon). I love its texture — it’s chewy and puffy, so it’s quite filling and satisfying. It’s an ideal side to meat, chicken and fish, but it’s also great chilled and added to any sort of cold salad. In fact, I make a Farro Pilaf with various aromatics and tasty mix-ins like pistachios and dried cranberries that’s always a crowd-pleaser.

Joy Bauer's Farro Pilaf
Joy Bauer’s Farro PilafJoy Bauer

4. Sour cream  Greek yogurt

Sour cream is the topping of choice for baked potatoes, chilis, tacos and nachos. But I personally have a thing for Greek yogurt when my dish needs a dollop of deliciousness. Unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is strained, making it thicker, tangier and more similar to sour cream in texture and taste, with the added perk of extra protein. Add a spoonful or two to these Loaded Sweet Potatoes or this Butternut Squash Chili, and dig in!

Baked Feta Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Joy Bauer

5. Canned tuna → canned salmon

If you’re going to go fish, why not try canned salmon? All canned fish are packed with protein and are a budget-friendly way to hit your weekly fish quota. And of course, there’s no need for canned tuna to be canned for good, but swapping to salmon offers a number of benefits, including more heart-healthy omega-3 fats and bone-strengthening vitamin D. Now that’s the reel deal! Try this Wild Salmon and Chickpea Salad for a scrumptious fix.

Joy Bauer's Wild Salmon and Chickpea Salad
Joy Bauer’s Wild Salmon and Chickpea SaladJoy Bauer