Healthy Food Swaps

Did you know that sometimes your weight loss can significantly improve with just a few simple diet changes? If you’re feeling like you’re making mostly good food choices, you’re exercising regularly and you’re struggling to get the scale to move right now, consider making a few small changes to your diet and you’ll likely see the number on the scale go down.

You’ve probably seen the books that tell you healthier food swaps. Well, sometimes those don’t apply to weight loss surgery patients. For example, they may tell you to swap a piece of white bread for a slice of whole wheat bread. Sure it has more nutritional value, but you’re not supposed to be eating bread on a regular basis, so that swap is certainly not a helpful one for you! So we decided to compile a list of food swaps that would be helpful for those of you that have had weight loss surgery. Of course, it would be helpful even for those who haven’t had surgery. Here is a list of easy, delicious swaps to make your diet healthier!


Instead of… Choose This…
Ice cream ·         Blend frozen banana, ¼ cup skim milk and 1 tsp. cocoa powder in food processor.

·         Stir and freeze your fat-free Greek yogurt cups for 45 minutes before eating.

Potato Chips ·         Raw veggies (for that nice crunch!)

·         Kale Chips (Get bag of kale, de-stem and cut it into 3-inch pieces. Mix with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Spread on baking sheet, sprinkle with seasoning of choice and bake for 1 hour at 200°F, stirring once or twice.)

·         Zucchini chips (Slice zucchini into 1/8” slices, place on baking sheet, sprinkle a little olive oil, salt and pepper on them and bake for 30 minutes at 275°F, flip them and bake for another 30 minutes until brown and crispy.)

Smoothie/Snow Cone ·         Freeze Crystal Light until it is slushy or put it in a blender with crushed ice.
Fried Chicken/Fish ·         Dip your chicken or fish in egg or a low calorie sauce, then roll in crushed crackers, corn flakes or Shake n’ Bake and bake in the oven.
Bread ·         Use lettuce leaf to wrap your deli meats, burgers and taco fillings
Hamburgers ·         Turkey burger, veggie burger, portobello mushroom burger
Pizza ·         Use zucchini slices as “crust”, then top with pizza sauce, sprinkle of reduced-fat cheese and other favorite toppings. For a guide on how to do this, visit

·         Use cauliflower pizza crust (various recipes online)

Dessert ·         Frozen Grapes

·         Parfait made with low-fat vanilla yogurt, fresh berries and crushed graham crackers

·         Chickpea Chocolate Dip:

·         Greek Yogurt Hot Chocolate Pudding:

·         Frozen Banana Pops:

Milk Chocolate ·         Dark Chocolate – choose at least 70% cocoa (a little less sugar, more antioxidants and it will take a smaller portion to satisfy the craving!)
Dairy Products ·         Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurts and cheeses

·         Use fat-free sour cream or fat-free plain Greek yogurt(for a nice protein boost!) instead of sour cream

Sugary Breakfast Cereals ·         Steel Cut Oats or Old Fashioned Oats made with water or skim milk, sweetened with cinnamon, cocoa powder, stevia, etc.



Spicy Peanut Cauliflower Bites


  • 1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Prep: 1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F degrees 2. Trim and cut cauliflower into florets. Make: 1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F degrees 2. Mix all the ingredients (except the cauliflower) in a bowl until smooth. 3. Add the cauliflower florets and stir to get a covering of the sauce all over them. 4. Place on a baking tray and cook for 25-30 minutes. 5. Eat and enjoy!

Nutrition Info Per Serving (based on 4 servings)

Calories 140; Protein 4.27 g; Fat 11.01 g; Carbs 8.47 g; Fiber 3.07 g; Sugar 2.84 g

What’s New on the Nutrition Fact Labels?

1. Serving Size

Out with the old:

Have you ever eaten a bag of crackers or cookies and then looked at the label and realized you just ate two or three servings? This happens all the time and can be a big problem that compounds today’s obesity epidemic. An individual bottle of juice, which looks like a single serving, is sometimes 2-3 servings or an individual package of crackers may actually contain two servings.

Serving sizes listed on packages sometimes fall short of what people actually eat. Eating a “normal serving” of ice cream is sometimes three times the serving listed on the package. If people don’t realize this, they can pack in more calories, sugar and fat than they thought they would.

In with the new:

With the new label, the serving size and servings per bag will be closer to what Americans actually eat. Realistic serving sizes will help Americans gauge what they are eating. This will cut down on the confusion for sure, and people can get a more accurate picture. Also, items that are packaged as a single serving will be marked as a single serving. A bottle of juice or individual package of crackers will be labeled as one, not two servings.

2. Calories

Out with the old:

In the current label, calories are the same font size as every other item on the label. This is fine, but it is easy to glaze over them when scanning the label.

In with the new:

Notice the font. It’s bigger! Everyone needs to have a ball park idea of how many calories they need each day. This helps by making it big, really big. If you have a general idea and can see the amount listed in bold letters, you can decide if it fits into your calorie budget.

3. Calories from Fat

Out with the old:

On the first version, the label listed how much and how many of the total calories came from fat. This was another guide to give consumers an idea of how much fat they were taking in every day. It was often confusing for people because many consumers focus on total fat grams.

In with the new:

In the updated label, calories from fat have been deleted. Why? The newer emphasis is on types of fat instead of total fat. We now know, all fats aren’t created equal. Instead of looking at calories from fat, the focus is the type of fat. Limiting saturated fat and trans fat is far more important.

4. Added Sugars

Out with the old:

With the first label, there was not such a big emphasis on sugar. We have learned throughout the years that sugar is something we need to be aware of and monitor closely. With the current label, you can see how much total sugar is in the product, but you don’t really know where that sugar comes from. For example, sugars from milk or an apple could look the same as sugars from a cookie on the current version. We know this is not the case, and this can be quite confusing. It is easy to think skim milk or light yogurt has too much sugar, when in reality, this sugar comes naturally from lactose.

In with the new:

With the new label, added sugars are listed directly on the label. This gives consumers a chance to see how much sugar is added to a product vs. what occurs naturally. For example, applesauce would contain sugar (fructose, which is naturally occurring), but now you can see if there was any sugar added to the product.

The last edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA 2015-2020) recommends consuming less than 10 percent of calories a day from added sugar. This is about 50 grams of less of added sugar a day for a intake of 2,000 calories a day.

5. Essential Nutrients

Out with the old:

Vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and potassium are listed, along with their percent daily value. This means if you are eating a 2,000 calorie diet, the current label lists what percent you are taking in of your total needs per day. This is nice information, but doesn’t mean a lot for those of us who don’t eat a 2,000 calorie diet.

In with the new:

There are changes in the nutrients listed. The focus is now on vitamin D, iron, calcium and potassium. We still see the information on percent daily value, but we also see how much of each nutrient is in the product per serving. This is helpful if you are monitoring your intake, and can be a great way for you to keep tabs on these nutrients.


Source: Your Weight Matters Magazine

Lemon Dill Hummus


  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon tahini paste
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Prep: 1. Drain and rinse chickpeas. 2. Zest and juice lemon. 3. Chop dill, scallions, garlic. Make: 1. Add chickpeas, tahini, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice of lemon (about 3 tablespoons), and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until combined. 2. Run processor while adding olive oil and continue running until hummus is smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired. 3. Add dill and scallions and pulse to combine. Do not run too long or the dip will turn green. 4. Serve with you favorite vegetables.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (based on 8 servings)

Calories 155;  Protein 4.28 g; Fat 9.57 g; Carbs 14.46 g; Fiber 3.71 g; Sugar 2.8 g

Are You Hydrated?

Did you know up to 60 percent of the human body is water? The brain is composed of 70 percent water. And the lungs are nearly 90 percent water.  So what is one of the main things we need to not only run our bodies optimally, but also to survive—water!

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry on normal functions.  Even mild dehydration can sap your energy and make you tired. And as the humid St. Louis summer is upon us, your hydration level becomes even more important.

So how much do you need to not just stave off dehydration but to maintain optimum health?

Consume Roughly One-Half Your Weight In Ounces of Pure Water Each Day

This is a general rule of thumb for the average person.  For example, a 150-pound person should consume about 75 ounces of water or a little over nine 8 oz. glasses each day.

Factors that might increase your need for additional water are exercise, your environment, or certain health conditions.


“You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!”

Signs of Dehydration:

Simply feeling thirsty isn’t a reliable gauge of your body’s need for water.  A better check on hydration, as unpleasant as it may sound, is the color of your urine – clear or light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated and dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.

Other signs can vary – symptoms of mild dehydration can include: sleepiness or tiredness, dry mouth, muscle weakness, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness.


Carry a Water Bottle With You Everywhere

If you work in an office where you have access to a water cooler, great – bring your bottle with you and continue to fill it up during the day.  Your co-workers may wonder why you’re making additional trips to the toilet, but who cares!  You are optimizing your health (and they will soon see the BIG differences in your body…and your energy).


Make it A Game!

Make a goal to drink 5-6 eight ounce bottles or cups of water during your workday, and then 2-3 in the evening.  Have fun with it, giving your body what it needs will have you feeling great!

Veggie Pizza With Cauliflower Crust



  • 2 cups ground raw cauliflower florettes (about 1 small head)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce
  • Optional toppings:
  • 4 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives


Prep: 1. Preheat oven to 450. 2. Chop cauliflower into florets. Make: 1. Using a food processor, chop cauliflower until it’s the consistency of rice (not too long or it will get mushy) 2. Whisk eggs and mix in salt, pepper, almond flour, and cauliflower. 3. Press “dough” into a ball, and “knead” a few times to stick everything together. 4. Line a baking pan with greased parchment paper and press dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle, dusting a bit more almond flour if it makes it easier for you to work with. Recipe will yield 2 rounds. 5. Using a double layer of paper towels, bloat crusts [pressing firmly] to remove excess moisture. 6. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes until edges are browned. 7. Remove crust from oven and spread with thin layer of tomato sauce and top with desired toppings and vegetables. 8. Return to oven and bake until toppings are warmed through.


Feel free to add with toppings of choice. Avoid adding too many wet ingredients as crust will get soggy. Broccoli, red peppers, onions, spinach, etc. – it’s all good!

Nutrition Information Per Serving (based on 4 servings)

Calories 275; Protein 15.18 g; Fat 18.75 g; Carbs 17.16 g; Fiber 7.48 g; Sugar 4.72 g.

Do This, Not That

You’ve probably heard of the popular line of diet books called Eat This, Not That. It’s an incredibly successful line of books for one reason; it’s simple and straightforward. Eat this, not that. Cook this, not that. Drink this, not that. You get the idea. So here are some more do this, not that to add to your list.

Do get a To Go box at the beginning of your meal. Put half of your meal away before you start eating. You now have lunch for tomorrow and cut your calories in half.
Don’t eat to clear your plate or until your stuffed.

Do 15 minutes of cardio after your strength training workout to really burn your body fat.
Don’t do zone out on the treadmill with a magazine or watching TV. If you’re focusing on a book or your favorite Soap, you’re not focusing on what you’re trying to do in the first place – get in shape and burn body fat!

Do use extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for marinades and dressings.
Don’t use high sugar, high calorie, and high sodium marinades and dressings.

Do use an active rest within your strength training routine instead of a normal break. Try a 30 second plank in between strength sets. You’ll focus on your core while giving the other major muscles of the body a rest.
Don’t meander through the gym and look for your buddy or stop at the water fountain for idle chit chat. You’re there to get in shape. Save the social stuff for later.

Do utilize supplements for nutritional assurance. But consult with health care provider first (primary care physician, dietitian, surgeon).
Don’t expect to find a quick, easy, and nutritious meal in a drive thru.

Do incorporate variety. Try doing your entire routine backwards, flip the sets and reps, etc…
Don’t do the same thing over and over and over and over and over…

Do your workout with an eccentric focus. Concentrate on the “negative” portion of the exercise.
Don’t just speed through the exercise to finish the set.

Do use a dynamic warm up using all major muscles of the body.
Don’t jump right into exercise without a proper warm up.


Caribbean Salmon Skewers


  • 20-oz can pineapple chunks, in juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 lbs salmon, skinned and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp. cajun seasoning
  • 1 red bell pepper, medium-sized, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 orange bell pepper, medium-sized, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1/2 red onion, medium-sized, cut into 1-inch chunks


Prep: 1. Combine pineapple juice (all of the juice from the canned pineapple) and Worcestershire sauce in a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Add salmon cubes, seal, and let marinate for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator. 2. Place skewers in a shallow dish and cover with water. Let soak while salmon marinates (to prevent excessive burning of the skewers on the grill). Make: 1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. 2. Remove salmon cubes from marinade, and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pat tops of cubes gently with paper towel to remove excess liquid. Season salmon cubes with cajun seasoning. 3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. 4. Alternate ingredients onto each skewer (salmon cubes, red pepper slices, orange pepper slices, red onion, and pineapple) in any order and quantity you’d like. (Number of total skewers will depend on how long the skewers are and how much you decide to load onto each skewer). 5. Grease grill with cooking spray, and cook skewers for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Nutrition Information Per Serving (based on 4 servings)

Calories 200; Protein 13.57 g; Fat 4.23 g; Carbs 29.28 g; Fiber 4.28 g; Sugar 17.46 g.

Carrot Noodles With Lime & Chilli


  • 2 carrots, peeled and spiralized
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 Jalapeno chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tblspn coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Prep: 1. Peel and spiralize carrots. 2. Remove seeds and finely chop chilis. 3. Finely chop fresh coriander. Make: 1. Combine the coconut oil, lime juice and jalapeno together to make a dressing. 2. Place the carrots in a bowl. 3. Pour the dressing over the carrots and add the coriander. Blend well to ensure all pieces are covered with the dressing. 4. Season to taste.

Nutrition Information Per Serving (based on 1 serving)

Calories 130; Protein 4.16 g; Fat 1.06 g; Carbs 29.82 g; Fiber 8.51 g; Sugar 12.67 g.
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