Feb. 8. 2017
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Whether you’re a nutrition novice or a wellness enthusiast, I love giving you guys options for enjoying whole foods in new and exciting ways. This guide will be a fun challenge to incorporate more nutrient dense whole foods instead of classic options. I hope this guide gives you health inspiration and that it’ll be fun trying something new. So here we go, 10 Healthy Whole Food Swaps to Try Today!

Swap it!

No. 1


  • Swap it to replace: cheese spread or cheese dips
  • How to use: spread on a sandwich, use as a dip with vegetables, on crackers, stirred into pasta sauces, used as a dressing or general condiment
  • Why it’s great: it contains healthy fats, magnesium, protein, and is a great way to increase heart healthy fats from nuts and seeds into your diet
  • Recipes to try: Cauliflower Pizza Crust, Healthy Sweet Potato Nachos, The Best Grain Free Pizza Bread Bites

No. 2


  • Swap it to replace: regular apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar
  • How to use: drizzle on top of a salad, add to soup/dips/sauces to balance the flavor and add a touch of acidity
  • Why it’s great: this raw version is unpasteurized meaning it contains a host of gut friendly bacteria and probiotics while tasting delicious
  • Recipes to try: Crunchy Cucumber Tomato Salad, Nourish Bowl, The Ultimate Kimchi

No. 3


No. 4


  • Swap it to replace: frozen banana or frozen fruits
  • How to use: smoothies and smoothie bowls
  • Why it’s great: frozen fruits are incredibly nutrient dense and no need to completely replace them in smoothies. However for those of you going a bit overboard with fruit (it still contains sugar), boost the fiber with zucchini and protein with peas while decreasing energy density (sugar).
  • Recipes to try: Blue Morning Smoothie Bowl, Banana Blast Smoothie Bowl, Pea Pear Protein Smoothie

No. 5


  • Swap it to replace: mayonnaise
  • How to use: spread on sandwiches, use for the creamy base in chicken/tuna/chickpea salads, creamy dips, etc.
  • Why it’s great: for those of you who aren’t mayo fans (me!) or just looking for a way to increase the fiber, potassium, healthy fats, and vitamin E in your dish, this is the way to go!
  • Recipe to try: Avocado Cream – great for tacos and about a million other things

No. 6


  • Swap it to replace: milk chocolate
  • How to use: any and all ways you enjoy chocolate from baking, desserts, enjoying as a dessert, etc.
  • Why it’s great: dark chocolate contains far more antioxidants than milk chocolate because it’s closest to it’s natural state (i.e. no additional sugar, cream, and less processing)
  • Brands to try: Endangered Species, Taza, and Alter Eco

No. 7


  • Swap it to replace: wheat germ
  • How to use: added to baked recipes, sprinkled on yogurt, kefir, or ice cream for a sweet treat
  • Why it’s great: a great way to increase the fiber, healthy fats (particularly omega-3’s), and protein. Flaxseed doesn’t act exactly like wheat germ in staying crunchy, but it has a very similar sweet, nutty flavor and tastes great!
  • Recipes to try: top on Banana Ice Cream, Coconut Milk Yogurt from the #NScookbook

No. 8


  • Swap it to replace: iceberg lettuce
  • How to use: Use these greens in salads, smoothies, stews, sandwiches, wraps, etc. If you’re a newbie, try adding in half dark leafy greens and half iceberg lettuce!
  • Why it’s great: dark leafy greens contain vitamin K, E, A, C, B vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. I still love good ole’ iceberg lettuce because it’s watery and super crunchy, but it’s far less nutrient dense than our dark leafy greens
  • Recipes to try: Massaged Kale Salad, Kale Hemp Tabbouleh

No. 9


  • Swap it to replace: cold cereal
  • How to use: in porridges, hot cereal, baked goods, etc.
  • Why it’s great: cold cereals can sneak in refined sugars, are typically high in calories/carbs, and very low in fiber and protein. Both oats and quinoa contain a good amount of fiber and protein (especially quinoa) keeping hunger at bay and blood sugars stable.
  • Recipes to try: Overnight Oats, Ancient Grains Pear Porridge, and Turmeric Persimmon Porridge

No. 10


  • Swap it to replace: dairy milk
  • How to use: use in smoothies, add creaminess to soup, or use full fat coconut milk as a heavy whipping cream
  • Why it’s great: coconut is full of good fats including medium chain triglycerides – you can read up on them here.
  • Recipe to try: Coconut Whipped Cream, Coconut Milk Ice Cream, Creamy Zucchini Soup

What are your favs?

What are your favorite healthy whole food swaps you use regularly? Let’s keep the convo going! If you use any of these swaps at home, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments or by leaving a review which helps me make these recipes better for you. And share a pic on Instagram with #nutritionstripped so I can see!

xx McKel

p.s. Did you know I give away a free eBook with tips on how to live well, eat whole to feel healthier and happier? Plus, you get updates on happenings with NS, new posts, promos, and exclusive content each month in the NS Monthly – click below to sign up and join us, for free!