• Jessica Pecush

5 Food Swaps to Make in 2018

As a Culinary Nutrition Expert and lover of whole food, FROM-SCRATCH cooking, I make the following 5 food swap recommendations today knowing that they will not only save you money, such swaps will preventively help you retain your health! The food industry does NOT have the best interests of consumers in mind, we know that for sure!

While they take a little bit of time to prepare, these recommended swaps are both very reasonable and manageable to prepare at home and you certainly will not regret the result when you TASTE the flavour and FEEL the reward of having MADE IT YOURSELF!

The commercial and mass-produced versions of the following 5 types of items are PACKED with anti-nutrients, containing such ingredients as refined sugar, refined sodium, artificial colours and flavours, high fructose corn syrup, possible MSG (this ingredient comes disguised as COUNTLESS different ingredient names!), industrially refined/processed oils (i.e. canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil), chemical additives and preservatives to extend shelf life...need I go on?

The key to health-promoting ingredients and recipes is that each ingredient in the ingredient list DOESN’T have its own ingredient list. In some cases, an ingredient may have its own ingredient list, if you're not making it from scratch in that moment (i.e. see Dijon mustard below), but it is possible to find a whole food version if you're looking in the right places and in the right stores! Food ingredients are ideally consumed in the form that nature made them – as untouched as possible.

5 SWAPS Your Body Will Thank You For

1. Homemade Salad Dressing

This is a must! There are only two ingredients you require for the most basic salad dressing: EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL and VINEGAR!

While extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar are the typical go-to’s, feel free to switch it up! I love the health promoting benefits of raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, combined with extra-virgin olive oil. Apple cider vinegar, although acidic, is alkalizing once metabolized by the body, contributing to an alkaline internal body environment where inflammation is unable to thrive! For a tad of sweetness, you could certainly add a little bit of raw, unpasteurized honey, given its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial benefits!

There are a WEALTH of homemade, from-scratch, health-promoting salad dressing recipes on the Internet. Here is an example of a homemade vinaigrette I concocted this past Fall:

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette:

Yield: ~1/2 cup


  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard*

  • ¼ tsp. balsamic vinegar

  • ¼ tsp. sea salt

  • Sprinkling of black pepper, to taste

(*Look for an option with an ingredient list in which you can pronounce and recognize ALL ingredients listed!)


  1. Peel one garlic clove and mince.

  2. Wash and juice one fresh lemon.

  3. Measure extra-virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper.

  4. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly, using a high-speed blender, a whisk, or a small glass jar to shake and combine.

The beautiful thing about homemade salad dressings is that they are versatile with different dishes. Just because you locate a great-looking salad dressing recipe for a particular salad recipe, doesn’t mean it should only be used with that particular recipe. With a salad dressing you make, picture other dishes you like to enjoy that would pair well with that dressing. The possibilities are endless!

Another beautiful thing is that homemade salad dressings require just minutes and minimal supplies to create! Whether it’s shaking the contents in a mason jar, whisking the contents in a mixing bowl or using a high-speed blender to thoroughly combine them, rest assured it won’t require too much effort or time on your part!

To view the recipe for the salad pictured above (which utilizes this vinaigrette!), click here!

2. Homemade Dips, Spreads, Sauces and Condiments

Creamy Cashew Mayo

Like salad dressings, these are quick-and-easy to make! Recipes will often call for either use of a high-speed blender or food processor – both are suitable for this type of recipe. Most often, you’re simply combining all ingredients into the small appliance and the rest is done for you by the appliance! The exception, in terms of preparation time, might involve soaking nuts and/or seeds in water overnight, so they are softened prior to blending or food processing.

An example of a homemade (bean-free) hummus alternative that is one of my go-to dip/spread recipes is this Creamy Roasted Beet Hummus, recipe courtesy of The Endless Meal.

When making these types of recipes, I ALWAYS batch-prepare them, doubling or tripling the recipe for future use, and possible freezer storage.

3. Homemade Soup

Soup, in my opinion, is a fantastic investment in your time when it comes to batch cooking. If you’re going to wash and chop up some vegetables, you might as well double the volume and double the return on your investment! Soup recipes can certainly serve as frameworks with which you can substitute whatever you have left to use up in your fridge, so as to help prevent food waste. A double batch of soup can often yield 8-10+ servings for future meals, easily freezer-stored until consumption.

The best part of homemade soup is that you get to season it yourself, so you don’t have to be concerned with the high levels of REFINED SODIUM and chemical additives and preservatives that go along with many commercial, mass produced soup products. It’s just not worth it!

Many hands make light work! Gather any family members you can, divide the labour with regards to the vegetable preparation, and once everything is in the pot, the bulk of the efforts required are complete! Let your stovetop work that magic!

A soup I’m really enjoying right now is the Luxurious 7 Vegetable and ‘Cheese’ Soup by Angela Liddon (Oh She Glows). A dairy-free alternative rich in B vitamins and a plant-based source of protein, nutritional yeast is the magical ingredient that provides the creamy, cheese-like appearance and flavour! This is such a comforting soup recipe!

4. Homemade Granola Bars/Energy Bites (and snack foods of the like)

Another item that is misleading on the grocery store shelf is the infamous granola bar! This popular snack is incredible easy to make at home as well, easily double-batched for many snacks to come!

The joy of making these yourself, like the other items noted above, is having full control over what is going into your snack! It’s also an opportunity to swap ingredients in the recipe you find for what you have left in your fridge and/or pantry to keep the food preparation.

Common ingredients for homemade granola bars are very similar to those you’ll find in no-bake energy bite recipes:

  • (certified gluten-free) rolled oats

  • Nut/seed butter

  • Dates

  • Nuts (i.e. walnuts, pecans)

  • Seeds (i.e. hemp, raw pumpkin, raw sunflower, chia, sesame)

  • Dried fruit (i.e. blueberries, cranberries)

  • Raw cacao powder

  • Unsweetened, shredded coconut

  • Cinnamon, among other spices

  • Potential added sweetness from raw, unpasteurized honey or pure, maple syrup

The most recent energy bite recipe I tried out was Joy McCarthy's Sexy Maca Balls! I loved them! If you're a fan of (and in a position to consume) maca powder, an adaptogenic powder that helps the body manage stress, then I encourage you to try this one out!

*Note: I modified the cinnamon measure by reducing it to 1 tsp, instead of using the noted 1 tbsp.

5. Homemade Vegetable-Based Juice

Loaded with both natural sugar and added sugar, packaged fruit juice (i.e. juice boxes, cartons, jugs), can be something to ditch in 2018!

In place of such juice, opt for infused water (infused with fresh/frozen fruit and fresh herbs, such as lemon and basil, blackberry and sage, etc.). Most people, including children, aren’t consuming enough water to begin with. This is the prime fluid your body requires on a daily basis, so the greater the water intake when beverages are consumed, the better!

If you have a juicer at home, or are out-and-about in a store or health food store that sells cold-pressed juice, opt for a vegetable juice that has just a tad of fruit added for sweetness to offset the bitterness yielded from the vegetables (such as apple or pear). Green juices are highly alkalizing for the body and are your very best bet!

I hope this post has INSPIRED you to do some recipe inspiration searching, with the goal of attempting a new recipe from the types of items noted above! Enjoy the goodness!


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