Family Food Smart Swaps - Part Two

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Last week I shared a couple of tools and rules that I have implemented with my family to get them to eat healthier.  This is not an easy feat as my family loves to order pizza, buy ice cream and munch on the crunch of a tasty potato chip. 

So since the New Year, I have been experimenting with some healthier family food swaps and I bring you the ones today that have been successful.  Some of these foods have been eagerly embraced by my peeps, while others, I have to do on the sly (I'm guessing you have been there with me on this), so take a look to see if there are some smart swaps that you can try with your family. 

Smart Swap #1:  Better Banana Chocolate Milkshake instead of an Ice Cream Milkshake

Since ice cream is a big temptation in my house, I was thrilled to find a healthier milkshake recipe that is super tasty and tastes like ice cream, but contains no fattening and unhealthy ice cream.  I found this recipe at the Omega website, which is where my beloved blender came from, the Omega TF6064S model.  This blender is heavy duty and multi-tasks by performing not only blending, but also juicing, making frozen desserts, salsas, dips, dough, mousse, batters, dressings and more.  Here is the recipe...

A Healthier Chocolate Banana Milkshake

What You Need:

2 frozen bananas
2 Tablespoons chocolate powder (I used Sprouts Farmers Market Cocoa Powder) because the only ingredient listed is cocoa with zero sugar
1 cup almond milk for us (except my girl is allergic to tree nuts, so skim milk for her)
2 squirts Stevia or Vanilla Stevia

What You Do:
1.  Add all ingredients to blender.
2.  Blend until smooth and serve and enjoy. 

Smart Swap #2:  Ian's Fish Sticks when you need food fast instead of grabbing fast food

My daughter loves fish sticks and I like that they are quick and easy to throw in the oven before her after school activities begin, but I didn't like that some brands were loaded with ingredients that I didn't recognize and couldn't pronounce.  I also like that the Ian's fish sticks are made with whole fillet Alaska Pollock and not minced fish, as some other brands use.  For kids with food allergies, this brand has no wheat or gluten, no milk, no eggs, no nuts and no soy.  The Ian's brand also has no preservatives, artificial flavors or artificial colors.  I buy these at Sprouts Farmers Market and my daughter really likes these fish sticks, I'm happy to report.

I also started packing this quick fish stick dinner (and other quick dinner ideas) in cool takeout boxes that I buy at Costco.  Kids like the appeal of a fast food looking dinner on the run and I like that I packed the container with more nutritious options.  I add a side of fresh organic strawberries and some carrot sticks and we are good to go...literally run, eat and go on those jam packed calendar days.

Smart Swap #3: Ban bad breads & instead have Sunizona Farms bread &

Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin

We all keep hearing how bad white bread is for us and how it turns to sugar in our bodies, so I switched my family to 100% whole wheat bread years ago.  Well now I have taken it up a notch and found two breads that are definitely better breads and what family doesn't just love bread?!  Mine sure does. 

First of all, our bread actually comes directly to us from a local farm each week that uses spelt flour in their baking, which is easier on the digestive system.  Since they sell baguettes, I serve that with a pasta meal instead of traditional white garlic bread.  Sunizona Farms also delivers weekly produce and more to local Valley wide restaurants and other locations for weekly pick-up.  So every week, I go to my favorite healthy cafe, Pomegranate Cafe to get my Sunizona Farmbox.  This has been such a gem of a local find and I love knowing that my family is eating fruits and veggies that came straight from the farm to our home.  Check it out for yourself at

Ezekiel bread has several varieties of sprouted grain bread that is flourless and organic.  This bread is different from typical bread brands because Ezekiel is made from freshly sprouted live grains that release vital nutrients that are stored in the whole grains that are good for us.  My 16-year-old boy especially likes the Ezekiel Raisin Cinnamon flavor, so I keep that refrigerated and on hand when we want a little sweetness with our whole grains.  Ezekiel is sold at Sprouts Farmers Market and at Whole Foods stores.

Smart Swap #4: Skinny Pop Popcorn instead of microwave popcorn

My family was not happy with me when I outlawed microwave popcorn, but I was just hearing too many negative health reports about the stuff.  Article after article popped up (no pun intended) about the dangers of the chemicals used in the packaging and in the butter flavoring in some of the brands.  With so many reports surfacing about the questionable health hazards of microwave popcorn, I just stopped buying it, period.  Our substitute is the Skinny Pop Popcorn brand that I buy at AJs Fine Foods.  I like that the ingredients say "all natural popcorn, sunflower oil and salt. Nothing more. Nothing less" and I love that.

Smart Swap #5:  Avocado instead of mayo

I love that this was all my tween daughter's idea.  She suggested that we swap out mayo on sandwiches for pure avocado instead.  So now she makes herself a turkey sandwich, on whole grain bread with lettuce, dill pickle slices, a little onion and slices of avocado, which is a healthy fat that the body benefits from since it contains protein and potassium.  Once I got the healthy foods dialogue going, it is good to see my family come up with their own ideas, too.

And speaking of daughters, last week I briefly showed a great book that is so helpful when it comes to discussing food, nutrition and body image with girls. "Nourishing Your Daughter - Help Your Child Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food and Her Body" by Carol Beck.  This is a wonderful book that gives parents ideas on how to respond when your daughter tells you that she "looks fat" or feels self conscious about her appearance.  With specific tips on how to best respond to her stressful issues with food, this book has been really helpful for me.  I highly recommend this book that can be purchased for under $12 by clicking HERE.

Smart Swap #6:  Living Raw Darkest Cacao Truffles instead of chocolate bars

I admit that that I am seriously addicted to dark chocolate.  It doesn't matter how old I get, I just can't seem to outgrow my love for chocolate.  So I was thrilled to discover the Living Raw Darkest Cacao Truffles at My Fit Foods locations.  This organic, raw, dairy free and gluten free treat is quite tasty and is made of organic cacao powder, organic coconut oil, organic cacao butter, organic agave, organic cacao nibs, organic vanilla and Celtic sea salt.  This is my favorite food smart swap find, I must admit!

Smart Swap #7:  A Better Blueberry Smoothie

Several of my gal pals told me about this recipe and I started adding healthy flax seeds (grounded) to give myself an extra dose of fiber.  Here is the smoothie recipe...

Blend together one banana, one cup of almond milk and as many blueberries as you like along with one tablespoon of ground up flax seed.  Drink and enjoy.

What are some of your family's favorite food swaps?  Share in the comments section and remember to check out my blog at for more healthy recipes, parenting talk, pet stuff, beauty news and more.