Pantry Raid, Part III: 5 Simple Substitutions for Better Health


One of the things that I have learned in my quest to make quick, healthy meals for my family is that, for most of us, a total overhaul is intimidating and impossible. But we can make a healthier lifestyle more manageable by making smart, simple choices, and most of these start at the store. So, here is a Beauty Mommy cheat sheet for making healthy substitutions where they matter most.

INSTEAD OF: All Purpose Flour

Substitutions for Better Health

TRY: Spelt Flour

One of the strategies that I’ve adopted recently is replacing questionable staples with healthier ones, as they run out. I am all out of all purpose flour, and I am considering completely replacing it with white spelt flour. I have been experimenting with it lately, with really encouraging results. It has a similar texture and taste to all purpose flour, but is high in protein and fiber. You can substitute it, cup for cup, in recipes that call for all purpose flour. Simply reduce the water in the recipe by a quarter and cut the amount of mixing or kneading time in half, according to Rebecca Wood.
Or choose one of the countless recipes out there designed for spelt flour, like those in my current favorite, The Naked Organics Cookbook. The Sunday Brunch cookies and Death by Chocolate cookies have been a huge hit at our house. Another favorite substitution: White Whole Wheat Flour.

INSTEAD OF: White Pasta

Substitutions for Better Health

TRY: Whole Wheat Pasta

Sure, the brown pasta takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s no longer stiff and cardboard-y like it used to be. Today’s whole wheat pastas have come a long way, and they have such a nutritional advantage over the white kind. Add your favorite sauce and you’ll be surprised how readily the whole family accepts it. One tip: start with smaller shapes of pasta, like shells or spirals, so the texture difference will be less noticeable.

INSTEAD OF: White Sugar

Fair Trade Organic Sucanat Bag

TRY: Turbinado Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice, or Sucanat

This is such an easy substitution that it seems silly not to make it, since I have not found it to make a major difference in taste or texture no matter what I add it to, from baking to hot beverages. All are pure sugar, but far less refined and processed than the white stuff. Sucanat is lower in sucrose than white sugar, which means it doesn’t have as strong an effect on blood sugar.

INSTEAD OF: Regular Peanut Buttter

Substitutions for Better Health

TRY: Natural Peanut Butter

You get bonus points if it’s also organic, but the all natural peanut butters skip the hydrogenated oils found in their conventional counterparts. Sure, they require a little more mixing, but the pure peanutty results are worth it Or try all natural versions of Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter, or my favorite, Hazelnut Butter with Chocolate (healthier than Nutella, and almost as good).

INSTEAD OF: Sweetened Fruit Products

Substitutions for Better Health

TRY: Unsweetened Fruit Products

This is a broad category, but includes everything from fruit juice to applesauce, jams and jellies to those little containers of pre-cut fruit.It amazes me that sugar is added to applesauce when it is so yummy without it; same for jams and jellies. Isn’t fruit already sweet? If you do choose a sweetened product, at least make sure that it contains pure cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.
Substitutions for Better Health


  1. Nelly says

    Love that stuff! Thanks for the tips! And the pantry organization ideas. They come at a great time for me as I just got my new pantry finished! I’m all into different flours, too. Love them!

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