5 Healthy Food Swaps (That Actually Taste Good)

Last Update: September 28, 2022

Let’s face it, cleaning up your diet isn’t fun unless there are some tasty things to enjoy on your new eating plan. We’re not big fans of deprivation here at Thrive Market, but we do believe a few healthy food swaps can keep our food habits a bit more wholesome. Read on to discover some of our favorite tricks!

Instead of Juice, Try Coconut Water

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed OJ now and then, just be mindful of the sugar content. For daily drinking, sub in plain ‘ol coconut water! Every sip delivers potassium and electrolytes, and we love Zico Natural Coconut Water—each carton is filled with fresh coconut water hand-harvested by local farmers using coconuts grown in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Coconut Water Popsicles

The coconut water and fresh fruit combo is perfect for warm days. Fill ‘em with your favorite sweet fruits to beat the heat!

Coconut Spa Waters

No spa day? No problem! You can still indulge in fruit-infused “spa waters” often found in high-end salons or hotel lobbies. This upgraded version subs in electrolyte-rich coconut water for plain old H2O.

Instead of Mayo, Try Tahini

A smear of mayo on a sandwich adds moisture to your fillings, but can be higher in calories than other options. Enter, tahini! This paste is made from toasted, ground sesame seeds, and is big on flavor. You can use a slick as-is, or incorporate it into easy recipes like dressings, dips, and even cookies!

Tahini Dipping Sauce

Here’s a recipe that’s bright and bold thanks to champagne vinegar, pomegranate molasses, pepper, honey, and garlic. A squeeze of lemon balances the flavors—perfect for kabobs, baked fries, and more.

Cauliflower Hummus

Every good host has a go-to appetizer dip, and this hummus even gives guacamole a run for its money! Substituting cauliflower for chickpeas makes for a little lighter consistency than the traditional version, and tahini helps maintain that signature taste.

Chewy Tahini Cookies

Try a grown-up version of classic peanut butter cookies where complex tahini replaces plain PB. Just one bite and you’ll be convinced it works.

Instead of Chocolate Chips, Try Cacao Nibs

To enjoy chocolate in its purest form, turn to cacao nibs. These small “nibbles” are dried, fermented bits of cacao beans. They offer fiber and iron, plus you won’t find additives like sugar.

Warm Cacao Smoothie Bowl

This warm, morning smoothie starts with an almond butter base, a splash of almond milk, and a pour of raw, organic, and cold-pressed cacao creamer. Instead of blending with ice, we heat this drink on the stove for a comforting bowl of goodness you can enjoy on chilly mornings, topped with cacao nibs, of course.

Minty Coconut Shake

We’re all about eating green foods on St. Patrick’s Day, as long as we nix the food dyes. This dairy-free mint-coconut shake is a perfect example of using natural ingredients like fresh spinach, avocado, and mint to give this creamy frozen drink its verdant hue.

Raw Nutty Chocolate Protein Bites

Don’t worry about deciding between salty or sweet! Enjoy plant-based protein (from a blend of pea, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and hemp powders) alongside raw almonds, cashews, and other superfoods mean there are quite a few good-for-you ingredients rolled up in these little morsels.

Instead of Bottled Dressing, Try Homemade Dressing

There’s a lot to love about bottled dressing, especially because it’s mixed up and ready to pour whenever salad is on the menu. But the downside is not all dressings are created equal, and some have extra ingredients like hydrogenated oils and added sugar your body could do without.

Once you know the basics, homemade dressing is a cinch to make. You always control what goes inside, and once you whisk up your own creations, you’ll have a hard time reaching for the jarred stuff. Start with the perfect ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, then emulsify it by combining all your ingredients and whisking until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy. You can also seal it in a glass jar and shake vigorously.

Avocado Lime Dressing

Avocado gives this dressing extra creaminess, and lime juice, onion powder, and cayenne pepper bring bold flavors together.

Kalamata Vinaigrette

This recipe will be the star in your next Greek salad! Mediterranean flavors like dried oregano, capers, plus the briny flavor of chopped olives will give lots of zing to your plate.

Vegan Ranch Dressing

Here’s the ranch dressing of your Paleo and vegan dreams. It’s made from soaked raw cashews, apple cider vinegar, and plenty of herbs. Dunk sweet potato fries in a small bowl, or drizzle it over fresh greens.

Instead Of Croutons, Try Toasted Nuts and Seeds

The right texture can make or break a dish, and there’s always something satisfying about crunching into a toasted crouton. But if you’re looking to replace the bread with a satisfying swap, toasted nuts and seeds might be the answer.

Za’atar Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Give pumpkin seeds a Middle Eastern spin with sesame seeds, sumac, and dried thyme. A squeeze of fresh lemon brightens up each bite.

Rosemary and Lemon Spiced Nuts

The bright flavors of fresh rosemary and lemon zest come together with savory, spicy cayenne, and ginger—plus a little brown sugar to help round it all out. It’s the perfect thing to serve with cocktails or add to an appetizer tray at your next dinner party.Coconut Spa Waters

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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