I was reading a woman’s-magazine-who-shall-not-be-named last night, and I realized so many articles about food and exercise basically contain tips on how to restrict.  How to eat less of this or do less of that.  I hope my blog illustrates that healthy living is about changing something small or even  ADDING something to your life more than it’s about taking anything away.


Here are seven of my favorite healthy swaps or additions.  Small changes can add up to something amazing!


HTP ADD:  Add chia seeds or ground flax seeds to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, or even savory dinners.  Chia and flax seeds are a great (vegetarian) source of Omega 3’s, which have numerous health benefits.  I love adding one tablespoon of chia or flax seeds to my meals because it also an easy way to add a little fiber (which helps you stay fuller, longer).  I’m particularly loving chia seeds right now, which have a neutral taste, because you don’t have to grind them to get the benefits, as you do for flax.  My favorite way to eat ground flax?  Flax-encrusted sweet potato balls!


HTP SWAP:  Instead of drinking coffee with a flavored creamer, try using good old organic half-and-half instead.   Need a reason why?  Check out this ingredient list (for regular Coffee Mate): WATER, SOYMILK (WATER, SOY POWDER), PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, SUGAR, AND LESS THAN 2% OF DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, POLYSORBATE 50, GELLAN GUM, SODIUM CITRATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BETA-CAROTENE COLOR.  I see lots of artificial things that I cannot pronounce, as well as trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils).  The ingredients in organic half-and-half? ORGANIC MILK, ORGANIC CREAM.  I can live with that!


HTP ADD:  Make an effort to stay hydrated.  You’ll see the difference in your hair and skin, and your digestive system will work better, too.  I try to chug a glass of room temperature water every morning before I drink my coffee. 


HTP SWAP:  Buy higher-quality organic condiments.  Yes, organic condiments are pretty expensive – but not by much (only a buck or so).  But by buying organic condiments, you’ll avoid many artificial flavorings and colorings, trans fat, and HFCS.  My favorite condiments include Anne’s Organic Ketchup and Anne’s Organic BBQ Sauce.


HTP SWAP:  Instead of a 2:00 PM coffee fix, try going for a walk instead.  When I worked in an office, I would often take a 5 or 10 minute break to go for a quick walk outside (or in the winter, I just walked around the building).  I still try to move in the middle of the afternoon, when I’m most likely to feel a slump.  Walking will wake you up as effectively as coffee, and you won’t crash at 4 as a result.


HTP ADD:  When making pasta, start your plate with a bed of raw spinach.  Then, add the pasta, sauce, and toppings.  The hot ingredients will wilt the spinach, and you’ll get an extra dose of vitamins and fiber with your meal.  (This is also a great trick if you’re in college and are eating from the cafeteria.)


HTP SWAP:  Instead of white rice, try quinoa.  Advantages to quinoa?  It cooks in just five minutes and it’s a good source of protein.  Quinoa is also a great breakfast grain, as illustrated in these recipes!


What are you favorite swaps or additions?  Do you get tired of certain magazines suggesting you need to restrict to be healthy?



  • April @ Crazy Fabulous Life September 6, 2010, 10:44 am

    Great tips! I especially like the one about the spinach. Definitely gonna try that!

  • Julia @ Brit Bride September 6, 2010, 10:45 am

    Great article Caitlin. I have real problems drinking enough water (and too much diet coke) – now I will only allow myself coke after 3pm at work – so my only option is to drink water.

    Thanks for the tips… any more?


    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:23 pm

      I plan to make this a regular feature so stay tuned!

  • Jess September 6, 2010, 10:45 am

    My favorite swap is using the whole wheat version of bread, pasta, rice, etc. instead the white version. I actually prefer the taste, too! In terms of additions, I’d say strength training. Aside from making you feel great about yourself, it’s good for your metabolism, too!

  • Lauren (Clean Eats in the Dirty South) September 6, 2010, 10:45 am

    <3 the spinach tip! the salad bar at the caf here has oodles of spinach so i usually chuck it on a plate and top it with brown rice, beans, veggies, and hummus. 🙂

  • Lily @ Lily's Health Pad September 6, 2010, 10:46 am

    I swap Ezikiel Bread for regular loafs…the nutritional value is so much better! It is a bit more expensive, but I think it’s worth it!

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) September 6, 2010, 10:46 am

    Oh, that’s a good idea to put spinach on your plate before pasta! I had never thought about that.

    As someone who LOVES french fries, I think the biggest change to me is to just cut up my own potatoes and roast them, as opposed to buying the frozen fries or getting them from a fast food place. I also mostly use sweet potatoes. I still get potato love, just in a better way.

  • Eliza September 6, 2010, 10:47 am

    I always used pearled barley when I make risotto, instead of arborio rice. And we always add spinach in with our pasta. Another good one is chopping up zucchini or squash and mixing it in with our black bean/tomato/lots of spices mixture for tacos.

    • shelly September 6, 2010, 11:30 am

      I love to use barley for risotto as well. I’ve also found that you can use short grained brown rice if you can find it.

  • Emily September 6, 2010, 10:47 am

    I’ve been trying to add a fiber food to each of my meals; frozen blueberries with my oats, high fiber salads for lunch, spinach with dinner. Making sure each meal is based around fruits and veggies and healthy fats, too, keeps me full for the long haul 🙂

  • Jo @JAGSfitnessblog.com September 6, 2010, 10:49 am

    I absolutely love this blog post Caitlin – you are awesome 😀

  • JenATX September 6, 2010, 10:53 am

    I really love this post. I used to love reading health magazines for great “tips” but as I’ve taken a closer look at what it means to be healthy for me, I found that I am not really comfortable with some of the things that these magazines suggest. What if I dont want to eat a whole wheat english muffin for breakfast, spinach salad for lunch, and salmon for dinner? I just can’t live with those types of rules!
    Anyway, my favorite swap is carrots for potato chips w/ my sandwiches. Its an easy way to get another veggie serving at lunch! Sometimes when I have a strong craving for salt & vinegar chips though I’ll have both 😉

  • Samantha @ Food Edu September 6, 2010, 10:56 am

    Good list–While I generally don’t buy organic–you’ve really made me think about condiments & creamers: I just buy them and have never really thought about whats in them. Strange because I know what is in all the “food” I eat–but have not thought about all the “extras”.

  • Caitlyn (A Spoonful of Life) September 6, 2010, 10:56 am

    I most definitely get tired of magazines that promote the idea that restricting our diet is healthy. That seems to be the general theme of magazines these days, though. It is not true! I like to think in terms of the positive…what I can do, not what I can’t or shouldn’t.

  • Aundra (fitforlife) September 6, 2010, 10:57 am

    LOVE this! I’m such an advocate for eating real food. I like the swap ideas – we use bulgur and quinoa with veggies – yummy! I’m also moving toward chicory root in place of coffee. I do a 1/2 and 1/2 mix now…chicory root has no caffeine, and tastes like coffee!

  • Heather September 6, 2010, 11:00 am

    great post! I actually just decided to not reup my subscription to self because I didn’t like the direction the magazine was going. it has some good tips and workout ideas yes, but some of the articles make me crazy!

  • holly @ couchpotatoathlete September 6, 2010, 11:01 am

    I have restricted myself for years and I love reading tips like these. One thing that I like to do is add more veggies to any meal — to pasta, on pizza, on sandwiches, make big salads, mix in casseroles, etc. That way I get more food, more nutrition and more satisfaction!

  • Daniel September 6, 2010, 11:01 am

    My favorite swap that’s pretty simple to make is to steam vegetables instead of boiling (when possible) and using whole-wheat products over destroyed crap ones.

    By the way, my mother uses the vanilla Coffeemate stuff with all of the PHO’s and funky stuff in it and I think she does it for the sweetness so I’m not sure half-and-half would work for her. We’ve tried a lot of things and she’s not fond of soy-milk so the Silk soy-creamer is out of the question. If anyone has a good, healthy swap for this, please let me know. She drinks coffee and pours that stuff in generously as if it were powdered amazingness and doesn’t realize all of the crap she’s putting into her body and it bothers me. 🙁

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 11:02 am

      Can she do half and half and vanilla stevia?

      Powdered amazingness = lol

      • shelly September 6, 2010, 11:28 am

        My mom LOVES the vanilla stevia drops. They’re too sweet for me, but I’ve gotten her hooked. 🙂

      • Emily September 6, 2010, 11:34 am

        I’ve heard good things about the coconut milk creamers, too.

  • Laine @ Beets, Butter & Mountaintops September 6, 2010, 11:02 am

    I love the trick of loading the plate with greens before topping with pasta. I used this at Whole Foods yesterday, since I’m in the middle of moving & my kitchen is packed up. I started with greens, then added hot brown rice, then a mix of the Indian dishes they had. The lettuce just wilted and mixed in with everything else.

    I also discovered that I don’t like to eat whole bananas, but if I smoosh them onto an almond butter english muffin, I like them.

    And adding kale to fajitas is a good way to get some extra greens in!

  • elyssa September 6, 2010, 11:02 am

    this is one of my favorite posts of yours EVER! i’m especially appreciative of your words as i embark on a ‘clean week’. mission: expand my repertoire to include more whole foods, and cut out all the stuff i can’t pronounce. thanks so much! its so great to hear that healthy living is about positive choices, not restriction.

    • Lizz @ Leading the Good Life September 6, 2010, 2:50 pm

      I did a ‘clean week’, too! I was feeling sluggish after an indulgent vacation and wanted to focus on getting in lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I found a lot of ways to eat quinoa! If you’re looking ideas, you can check out my recap here. 🙂


      • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:26 pm

        I did a clean week once too but I chose to cut out coffee and wanted to kill myself. LOL

  • Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat September 6, 2010, 11:06 am

    Awesome post! I totally agree that women need to think about healthy swaps or additions, instead of restricting their intake. My favorite addition are those chia seeds! I love them so much more than the flax seed I used to try to eat.

  • Sarah September 6, 2010, 11:09 am

    I drink coffee black, which I feel like helps cut back on artificial, powdered, etc. creamers. I’ve noticed that offices, churches and conferences often can’t keep fresh milk or cream around so they just put artificial stuff out.

    This may seem weird, but I also try to use alternatives to salad dressings. If I’m looking for something sweeter I’ll add pineapple and mandarin oranges and the juices make great flavor or I’ll use salsa or picante sauce. It adds great flavor without using dressings.

    • Aundra (fitforlife) September 6, 2010, 11:11 am

      Try peach salsa on salad! A-maz-ing!

      • Sarah September 6, 2010, 11:17 am

        Oh that sounds delicious! Do you have a favorite brand?

    • shelly September 6, 2010, 11:27 am

      I like to make my own salad dressing, and since I like mine tangy, I don’t use that much oil (I stay start with a 1:1 ratio and then taste and see if you need more oil or more vinegar). I start with a healthy oil like olive oil, then add seasonings. I really like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and hot sauce.
      Olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and parmesan is good to.
      Recently I’ve gotten some fancy vinegars from a local store- if you can get your hands on some cherry vinegar, it’ amazing combined with some olive oil and drizzled over greens with avocado, green onions, and almonds.
      I’ll never use premade dressing again!

      • Sarah September 6, 2010, 12:11 pm

        Oh wow, I didn’t realize it was that easy! I was looking at the ingredient list for some of my store bought dressings after I read this and realized I don’t recognize most of them! Oy. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of experimenting to find what you like – I’m definitely going to try this myself. Thanks!

        • shelly September 6, 2010, 12:15 pm

          Yeah now I think store bought dressings are gross! And it literally takes 30 seconds to mix up a little dressing a bowl with a wisk or a fork. I remembered another one I like- apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and garlic. Yum!

    • Lizz @ Leading the Good Life September 6, 2010, 2:52 pm

      My new favorite quick dressing is to mix hummus with hot sauce and thin it out with a bit of water. It makes a ‘creamy’ dressing without dairy!

      • Sarah September 6, 2010, 4:02 pm

        What a great idea! Thanks!

  • Erin September 6, 2010, 11:11 am

    I love the idea of putting pasta on top of spinach! I love both things but never thought of plating it that way.

    I love making baking swaps, like yogurt or applesauce for oil. It adds nutrients and healthifies yummy baked goods.

  • Kristina @ spabettie September 6, 2010, 11:12 am

    one of my favorite swaps is quinoa for white rice – I make a big batch of quinoa for the week.

    I like to use wraps instead of bread, or LETTUCE instead of wraps 🙂

  • eva September 6, 2010, 11:13 am

    I do that spinach trick almost every day. Works great with almost any dinner–especially leftovers, just reheat in the micro over a bed of spinach. I think I eat about 2 Cups of spinach per day this way.
    I recently started subbing sour cream with plain yogurt. It’s a different taste, but nice.
    Great topic, Caitlin!

    • shelly September 6, 2010, 11:22 am

      Ooh- if you want a better sour cream sub- Greek Yogurt tastes almost exactly like sour cream when it’s unsweetened.

  • Christy September 6, 2010, 11:16 am

    Fantastic observation! I love this post. I like to swap creamy dressings for avocado and salsa on my salads.

  • Jaya September 6, 2010, 11:17 am

    This is a great post! I would maybe say that I have a different take on one of your “HTP Swap” items, though. Instead of buying organic condiments (because I think the whole idea of consuming/packaging is sort of anti-organic in a way), I recommend making your own! We make our own ketchup and it keeps for a good while in the fridge. Salsa is another one that is so easy to make/change depending on what’s in season. Stir fry sauces and dips can all be made with pantry staples. I am a huge believer in the homemade revolution! It’s very empowering when you realize that most food products are easy/better when you make them yourself! Organic condiments are sometimes almost exactly the same (in terms of macros) as their conventional counterparts, and sometimes the ingredients are even sourced from faraway places (example Stoneyfield Yogurt). Either way, I think it’s all about knowing yourself and what’s important to you. I still think it was a great tip, Caitlin!

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:30 pm

      I should try making my own ketchup!

  • Maissa September 6, 2010, 11:18 am

    My favorite swap is hummus instead of cheese or mayo on a sandwich, still adds creaminess, but it is so much better for you.

  • shelly September 6, 2010, 11:21 am

    Plain yogurt, especially greek yogurt, plus thawed frozen blackberries (and a little honey if you need the sweetness) instead of flavored yogurt.
    Peanut butter and fruit instead of sweetener in oatmeal.
    Fruit instead of sweets for an afternoon snack.
    Hot sauce instead of extra salt.
    Whole wheat bread, spagetti, etc… instead of processed white carbs.

  • Cyclist Kate September 6, 2010, 11:21 am

    I think you forgot one of your favorite additions–spinach to smoothies!!

    I am very much pro focusing on adding stuff instead of taking it away! I literally eat absolutely whatever I want, and since giving myself this freedom, I have found that I really do tend to eat a balanced diet. It varies from week to week and day to day but overall I think it’s pretty darn healthy and I’m happy as a clam with what I eat. So my eating guideline? Take the pressure off! Listen to your body. Honor yourself.

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:30 pm

      Hear, hear!

  • Camille September 6, 2010, 11:21 am

    I have noticed that in magazines too :/
    My favorite swap is hummus, jam, or basically anything for mayo. Not only do I not like the taste, but it is bad for you and easy to replace with something better tasting and healthier!

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini September 6, 2010, 11:22 am

    Two of my personal faves are getting wholewheat pasta and brown rice instead of the refined stuff and putting greens in smoothies. I’m so not a fan of steamed or raw greens but if you put them in a smoothie you can’t taste them. Hurrah!

  • Mary September 6, 2010, 11:23 am

    I love this! I already do a lot of this but I am trying to eat more organically.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter September 6, 2010, 11:23 am

    Great tips. I absolutely love quinoa because it does cook so fast.

  • shelly September 6, 2010, 11:23 am

    Oh I remembered another one! 2% Cottage cheese on crackers instead of cheese and crackers. I used to hate cottage cheese but when I read the nutritional stats on it, I decided it was time to love it.
    It’s really good when you put a little black pepper on it and eat it with rosemary olive oil triscuits. 🙂

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) September 6, 2010, 11:25 am

    Gosh I get tired of the crap those magazines say to do! It is ridiculous! I am a volume girl, so going for 3 m&m for a sweet hit is crazy. I like making my own chocolates with cocoa powder and hemp protein. Also, do you know how much fruit you could eat that would equal the size of some fruit candy calorie wise. I HATE the message most of those magazines send out. Great post Caitlin! Enjoy your day!

    • Marianne September 6, 2010, 11:45 am

      I love the tip about spinach under pasta – we started doing this recently and love it. I’m all about “hiding” veggies like that, so you don’t even notice they’re in there!

      • Marianne September 6, 2010, 11:47 am

        Whoops I meant that to be a new comment – but totally agree with Sarena that the magazines are ridiculous. Who eats only 3 m&ms or the other teenytiny “replacements” they suggest? I wish they would recommend something that is actually healthy, or acknowledge that from time to time, it’s okay to just eat the m&ms.

  • Mica September 6, 2010, 11:28 am

    I see flax and chia seeds all the time on your blog, but I never know where to get them. Do you have any tips? (We don’t have fancy grocery stores here like TJs or Whole Foods, so…yeah. Maybe I’m in a flax-less vacuum.)

    • Liz September 6, 2010, 11:34 am

      You can order them online! I know a bunch of the bloggers, like Kath, have them in their open sky stores. Or you could just google an online supplier.

      • Anne September 6, 2010, 11:41 am

        You would be amazed how much you can get on Amazon.com, including food items like this! There are 240 results for Chia Seeds! The really funny thing is, when you look at Caitlin’s book listing on Amazon, people who bought the book also bought Chia Seeds and Jillian Michaels DVD’s (since at the time she was doing No More Trouble Zones on the blog).

  • Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl September 6, 2010, 11:29 am

    I’m a spinach in the smoothie girl which I thought would be nasty when I saw it all over the blogs, but it definitely helps me get in my veggies!

    I’m with you that I hate the magazines – it always seems like there’s an article on “How to shed 200 calories in your diet.” Ummm no. Sometimes the trick is just eating the RIGHT 200 calories 🙂

  • Kaitlyn (College Girl Runs) September 6, 2010, 11:32 am

    For coffee, instead of creamer I use a splash of almond milk and I love it! When I make dishes with pasta of grains, I try to add as many veggies as I can. It gives it more bulk and is healthy 🙂

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine September 6, 2010, 11:32 am

    Great tips!! I’ve noticed that those magazines ALWAYS contain ways to “eliminate calories.” Sorry, but when I want pizza, a piece of string cheese and a tomato isn’t gonna cut it!! My favorite addition is nutritional yeast. As a vegetarian, it’s hard to get a lot of B vitamins without eating enriched cereals, which can also have a lot of added sugar. Nooch tastes great and packs a few grams of protein as well!

  • Liz September 6, 2010, 11:32 am

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned putting pumpkin in your oatmeal! It’s such an easy and yummy way to sneak in a veggie in the morning. I also like putting spinach and mushrooms in omelets and using olive oil instead of butter. Great post Caitlin! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has felt disillusioned with “conventional diet wisdom” lately. I’m glad the blog world is going in a different direction than processed foods.

  • Tina September 6, 2010, 11:36 am

    These are all so great! Magazines really need to focus more on having more quality of food and ingredients over less calories for healthy living. I love how you really show that healthy living can be fun, taste good, and add to quality of life.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) September 6, 2010, 11:40 am

    I love this post! I’ve read these tips through out your blog and take them to heard.

    I’ve actually stopped reading many of those magazines because they were becoming a trigger for my old eating issues. No I actually am eating much healthier.

    Thank you for adding instead of detracting from the quality of life.

  • charise September 6, 2010, 11:43 am

    I tend to add extra veggies to any “one-pot” type dishes – any pastas, rice, eggs, tortilla etc., where the meat and veggies and sauce will all be served together.

    Plus, subbing in whole wheat grains where possible. Although sometimes I just gotta have my white basmati rice – I make 3 servings worth but make 4 servings from it when I do that, though.

    Also, I focus on getting enough fruits and veggies every day – when you do that, there’s less room in your tummy for the bad stuff, and you still don’t feel deprived because you get to eat plenty of volume.

  • Laura Ann September 6, 2010, 11:45 am

    this is fantastic. i love it. wish women’s mags were more like this – then maybe i’d purchase them!

    also, i was recently reading a friend’s fitness magazine and came across a blurb about your book! was excited to see it there!

  • Jessica September 6, 2010, 11:46 am

    I love all these tips – esp. the spinach / pasta one – but what quinoa are you using that only takes 5 minutes!? Mine has to be brought to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Is there an instant version I’m missing?? I love quinoa.


    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:31 pm

      I don’t think it’s instant! You only need to boil it until the little tails come out.

  • Marianne September 6, 2010, 11:48 am

    And Caitlin – it’s posts like this that keep me coming back to your blog. Your approach is so rational and balanced, and I just love that.

    A friend gave me a blog award recently and I thought you should have it too. Linked it as my website here.

  • Angharad September 6, 2010, 11:54 am

    I hate seeing magazine headlines that are all about “losing 10 lbs in two weeks” – it just promotes such a negative message and implies that being healthy is about restricting and losing weight, not gaining health and vitality.
    I love the idea of adding things rather than restricting. I see this message from Choosing Raw too and think it’s a great way to start your mental journey to better health.

  • Laurie September 6, 2010, 11:55 am

    What great tips Caitlin! Thanks!

  • nicole September 6, 2010, 11:55 am

    I love adding carob powder to my oatmeal. I don’t use it as a sub for chocolate(no way baby! That has its own pedestal!) but as its own separate entity. I love the flavor of it and it has antioxidants,vitamin E,calcium and antiseptic qualities. I think it is the next superfood!

  • Marina September 6, 2010, 11:57 am

    I stopped reading magazines like that, what’s the point of reading something that only makes me feel like crap, ugly and fat, with ridiculousness tips. I wish I did that sooner though.
    I love your tip about spinach.
    I eat a lot of grains, and I can’t imagine how boring would be if I only ate white rice, uh, boooring : )

  • ari September 6, 2010, 11:57 am

    i love this post!
    i always do that spinach thing at the whole foods hot bar. if i didn’t, there would be much more room for all the other heavy stuff and my total would be like $20 (instead of like $16 HAH).

  • Jenny September 6, 2010, 12:06 pm

    I really really love this post, such positive eating tips! I really need to try those flax-encrusted sweet potato balls. They sound so yum.

  • Jenny September 6, 2010, 12:06 pm

    I really really love this post, such positive eating tips! I really need to try those flax-encrusted sweet potato balls. They sound so yum.

  • Michele September 6, 2010, 12:07 pm

    I hope I’m not driving you insane, but I stalk this blog all the time and am LOVING the ideas I’m gaining. I’m in the process of learning to eat better (late in life) and losing weight. But I do need some help b/c I don’t even know where to begin. Can you tell me where you find these items:

    chia seeds
    greek yogurt

    Thanks so much; I love that you share your life, particularly the swaps/additions and great recipes!

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:33 pm

      Your welcome!

      quinoa – usually in the organic section near the rices. not all grocery stores carry it though so if you can’t find it, ask!

      chia seeds – chiaseedsdirect.com is good. whole foods and other healthy grocery stores usually carry them.

      greek yogurt – in the regular yogurt section. brands include oikos and chobani

      risotto – usually near the rice!


  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 6, 2010, 12:08 pm

    I LOVE this post Caitlin! I hear ya on the magazines and the whole restrictions thing. Like the ones that say “For lunch, have a salad with no dressing and 6 almonds”. Umm… yeh, sounds attractive.. NOT! I love all the healthy swaps/additions you’ve made. One I like to make is subbing Greek yogurt in for mayonnaise in recipes for tuna salads, chicken salads, etc. I don’t even notice the difference!

  • Kendall September 6, 2010, 12:08 pm

    Instead of adding salt to anything I’m roasting, I add fresh herbs! Granted a little salt will go a long way, so I’m not trying to cut it out completely, but there’s no need to cover vegetables in it.

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing September 6, 2010, 12:21 pm

    LOVE your tips!!! I used to add ground flax to oats every morning but I’ve lost that habit.. need to get back into it. And I switched to organic half and half a while back and I’m SO glad I did!

  • Anne Marie September 6, 2010, 12:22 pm

    Hey Caitlin! I’ve been a follower of yours from the start and I love, love your blog. Your meal creativity is always very inspiring and contagious. Congrats and well wishes on everything that you do =)


  • D September 6, 2010, 12:25 pm

    I agree about the magazines, but they have good basic advice for people who are starting from scratch. For people reading blogs, who are mostly extremely well-educated about nutrition, it’s easy to know that you don’t need to cut out anything because there’s so many great swaps, like you pointed out. But these are often fine-tuning, and I think that if someone had BIG changes to make, then the magazine advice is fine. For example, if someone wanted to lose weight and was currently drinking a 500 calorie frapp with whipped cream, then a little artificial creamer in black coffee is still a step for them. But then again, I guess it depends on your goal, and weight loss and health are two different things! I think all magazine advice should be taken with a grain of salt, but they do have some good basic tips. For example, telling someone to eat on a smaller plate (the standard magazine tip) isn’t so much about “restricting” as about introducing the idea of portion control if you have no idea where to start from. Once you’re more comfortable with it, then you can estimate portions on your own, or learn that certain foods can give you bigger portions, etc. But if someone wanted to eat the exact same food and lose weight, then yes, “restricting” to a smaller plate is decent advice. It doesn’t say, “only have lettuce on a smaller plate”, it says “have whatever you want, but cut down”. My two cents! I really enjoyed this post

    • Kelly September 6, 2010, 1:12 pm

      Although I completely agree with Caitlin’s point of view on the women’s mags telling women to ‘restrict’ I loved your side of the argument as well. Isn’t it nice when people can come together and disagree without being mean or nasty. Great comment.

      • caitlin September 6, 2010, 1:14 pm

        Agree. I heart thoughtful comments that show me another perspective!

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope September 6, 2010, 12:26 pm

    Also, organic condiments actually do taste better, too. For instance, I hate ketchup. Never have liked it, but organic ketchup has a totally different flavor, it’s delicious!!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 6, 2010, 12:26 pm

    It seems like every magazine I pick up lately is trying to tell us to eat less. Suggesting a 1400 calorie/day diet for an active woman is absolutely ridiculous!

    I like to add extra veggies to all my meals. If my parents make a batch of pasta or curry, I’ll chop up extra veggies to add to it!

  • Amber K September 6, 2010, 12:32 pm

    Adding roasted or steamed veggies to round out any meal really fills me up and then I don’t feel deprived.

    I also love the idea I saw in another comment about adding fresh herbs instead of salt. I do that too!

  • Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) September 6, 2010, 12:43 pm

    I love this post and it’s quite timely for me. I have been starting to think that I need to eat less and should lose some weight but I don’t know why. Since I started reading healthy living blogs a few months ago I had felt liberated at the amount of food I could eat and that eating wasn’t going to make me fat! Recently though, my old feelings have started to come back and I’m not sure if that’s due to outside influences like magazines and television. Anyway, thanks for the reminder that we don’t need to restrict to be healthy and that we can add loads of tasty, healthy things to our meals.

  • Jillian@ ReshapeYourLife September 6, 2010, 12:51 pm

    I love these tips!! I really hate those “health” magazines that have you cut out this and that… Thats why I could never stick to a diet I felt too deprived.

    After reading your blog and other healthy living blogs I’ve realized that it isn’t about depriving yourself. And healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.

    I will definitely try the spinach and pasta tip!

  • Kirsten September 6, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Incorporating spinach into pasta ideas is something I’ve been doing for a while. I tend to throw in handfuls of spinach once my sauce is done. Another thing I do is throw in some chopped broccoli into the pot which is boiling the pasta (a couple of minutes before the pasta is done).
    I will have to check out some of your other adds! Great ideas!

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) September 6, 2010, 12:55 pm

    I agree with you that a healthy diet is about ADDING things to your diet not TAKING things away 🙂 If people focus on incorporating lots of really nutritious foods into their diet they will shift their focus to health instead of weight.

  • Marina September 6, 2010, 12:56 pm

    I loved the tip about the spinach with the pasta and how a college student can easily incorporate this at the cafeteria. I’m a junior in college now and over the summer I started reading foodie blogs. A lot of the bloggers seem to realize as they got older their terrible habits in college and how thier lifestyle is so healthy now. This is great, but it is so difficult to be in college and cook and live healthy. I love your blog and I would love more college health living tips!

  • Little Bookworm September 6, 2010, 1:03 pm

    Great tips Caitlin – thanks! 🙂

  • katherine September 6, 2010, 1:12 pm

    My fave swap is mayo for avocado! You are right about certain womens mags. There is one in particular that once had an article about “how you can change your man when he treats you poorly”. I now refuse to read it.

  • Sarah for Real September 6, 2010, 1:14 pm

    Obviously because you are vegetarian, animal sourced omega 3 is not an option, but I thought I’d mention this for your other readers. Plant omega 3s need to be converted by the body into a usable form, but animal ones don’t. I’ve heard about new research that suggests most people convert the plant based ones poorly. This is why I haven’t bothered with chia or flax lately. I wonder if any nutritionists know more about this?

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:34 pm

      I don’t know the details, but I also figure it can’t hurt 🙂

  • Evan Thomas September 6, 2010, 1:15 pm

    My favorite healthy swap is just all-natural, 1-ingredient peanut butter instead Jif or Skippy

  • christina cadden September 6, 2010, 1:19 pm

    Great ideas!

  • kwithme September 6, 2010, 1:24 pm

    I started the 2pm exercise swap. I work on the computer in the afternoons. I would slump about 2pm. I started doing a mini workout. Some pushups and a plank and 10 flights of steps. It was way better at waking me up than coffee or soda. And it helped my posture as well.

    My fave swap is roasting veggies. I love almost anything roasted and it satisfies my sweet tooth. Since cutting HFCS, I can taste the sweetness of lots of things. It is such a huge difference.

  • sarah September 6, 2010, 1:27 pm

    sometimes I add wheat bran to oatmeal because it has a lot of iron in it. As for magazines, some of the info is entertaining and amusing, but I wouldn’t say a lot of it helpful. I do find it interesting to read some articles and I find it amusing how unrealistic some “tips” can be. I think some of the info and articles can be more of an advertisement than anything else for certain products.

  • Christi September 6, 2010, 1:28 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I am beginning to lose weight and these tips will really help me out! I didn’t know you needed to grind flax and I’m eating chia seeds because of you. As a result of this post I am going to investigate why you need to grind flax – something I had no idea about. I hope you see the way you are helping others!

  • Catherine September 6, 2010, 1:39 pm

    These are all such great tips, thank you for sharing! I hate reading in women’s magazines about “tips” that are essentially unhealthy ways to limit your diet, or to restrict all the foods you love. I’m dying to try chia seeds! haha

  • Julie @SavvyEats September 6, 2010, 1:51 pm

    I LOVE this idea. The restrictions and diets suggested in all the women’s fitness/health/etc magazines are why I stopped reading most of those magazines in the first place. Swaps/additions are better!

  • Sally Mae September 6, 2010, 1:55 pm

    Thanks Caitlin!! I love this post. I’ve come so far in the last year. I used to only eat egg whites, but I’ve realized I am much more satisfied when I eat one WHOLE organic egg. And I crave sweets much less when I purposefully add healthy fats to my diet. I do NOT do well on any sort of restrictive diet and am trying to eat food that I actually like! It is strange that we have gotten so far away from doing this because of fad diets and body image insecurities. Something has to change!!! I think the work you are doing helps:)

  • nancy September 6, 2010, 1:57 pm

    I am so very tired of reading about all the things that I am supposed to do to follow whatever “healthy” diet or weight loss plan is in the newstands this month. Thank you for again reminding us that there are truly healthy alternatives that use whole foods. You show us daily that variety and balance are possible while listening to what your body is asking for. It is a struggle for me every single day and has been for so long. You really are a light and an example and I am thankful you have been gifted to do what you do.

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:35 pm

      <3 thanks darling.

  • Coco September 6, 2010, 2:00 pm

    i am so glad for this post. honestly, women’s magazines are toxic these days and make us feel like we must look, eat, and exercise a certain way in order to be happy and beautiful. i agree that it is all about balance. i have a nutritionist who helps me to think of food as fuel. food should be enjoyed, not feared, and i try to eat a balance of healthy fruits & veggies, whole grains & carbohydrates, protein, and of course some decadent desserts and snacks from time to time. life is too short to sit around obsessing about calories and eating “clean”.

  • Alyssa September 6, 2010, 2:00 pm

    I LOVE this post! I get so annoyed when it seems like all women’s magazines assume that “health” = “weight loss” and magazines that are supposed to be about healthy living are just about shedding pounds. A few years ago I swapped my afternoon snack of artificially sweetened yogurt for greek yogurt and fruit, or carrots dipped in hummus instead of pretzels or rice cakes. I’ve found that a lot of little, gradual swaps like that over the years add up to a much healthier lifestyle overall.

  • Deb September 6, 2010, 2:03 pm

    I LOVE your idea of putting pasta over spinach! It sounds not only healthy but delicious!

  • Courtney @ Break & Bokeh September 6, 2010, 2:05 pm

    I loved these tips!!! I especially loved the one about putting spinach on your plate when you make pasta!!! My husband likes large portions, so I always mix in lots of veggies with our pasta!

  • myra September 6, 2010, 2:06 pm

    Thank you for this awesome post. I was reading your ” Food Revolution” post ( i started following your blog from end of may this year so i sometimes catch up on the old posts ), well i have to say “YOU ARE A BIG PART OF MY FOOD REVOLUTION” , I started eating healthy and am being active and lost 12 pounds since, things are going slow but it is lifestyle choice . The food pictures you post kind of grew on me help me to make better choices. Keep doing the good work and keep inspiring.

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 6:35 pm

      Yay for Food Revolutions 🙂

  • Liza @ Health Nutting September 6, 2010, 2:24 pm

    I completely agree, and I’m sick of it too. I’ve been thinking about just not reading them anymore because they tend to make me start to believe that they are 100% right, which I know they are not. And I love swapping whole wheat flour for regular flour!

  • Sana September 6, 2010, 2:24 pm

    You are so right. I don’t want to eat less food. I want more of the good stuff 🙂

  • kate September 6, 2010, 2:26 pm

    Greek yogurt is the master of all swaps in my opinion. Love all of the adds/swaps you suggested!

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie September 6, 2010, 2:52 pm

    I love your approach. It’s so true that fad diets are all about restriction these days! My healthy living tip that changed my life was simply add more fruit! Its so easy and it just naturally replaced all the sugary things and even snacks in my diet. Amazing.

  • Lizz @ Leading the Good Life September 6, 2010, 2:58 pm

    I think plain yogurt (Greek or otherwise) is such a great thing to have on hand. You can use it instead of sour cream, to make a salad dressings, instead of milk & butter in mac n cheese (got this tip from the back of the Annie’s mac n cheese box), in smoothies, and, of course, as yogurt! And for those who find it not sweet enough to eat straight up, you can mix in preserves, fresh/frozen fruit, honey, or maple syrup until it’s sweet enough for you. Plus, it makes it easier to get used to eating it plain b/c you can use less and less sweeteners.

  • Kate September 6, 2010, 3:21 pm

    I add beans and legumes to my meals- cannellini beans to my pasta, lentils to my mince, black beans to my rice, chickpeas to my couscous. This adds a bit of extra fibre punch, much needed variety, a bit of texture and, most of all, some extra YUM!

  • Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun September 6, 2010, 3:39 pm

    Awesome tips! When I go for a walk I feel so energized more so than when I drink coffee!

  • Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun September 6, 2010, 3:39 pm

    I am also lovin’ the chia and flax seeds!

  • diana @ i can eat, can't i? September 6, 2010, 3:48 pm

    htp add & htp swap = what a great idea you came up!

  • Alex September 6, 2010, 4:09 pm

    I love the tip about walking instead of coffee and the spinach before pasta. As a senior in college about to embark on a thesis, those are really great tips! Thank you! 🙂

  • Ashley September 6, 2010, 4:13 pm

    Your financial articles where great, thank for the post!

  • Faith @ lovelyascharged September 6, 2010, 4:26 pm

    I love doing the spinach trick! I swear, any excuse I can find to add spinach into a dish…

    My favorite swap is a schmeared avocado instead of mayo on a sandwich. I’m absolutely skeeved out by mayo, and the avocado has a much healthier (and vegan!!!) slant for a sammie.

  • Cristina September 6, 2010, 4:56 pm

    I love the idea of “swap”. I’m going to do that and write about it! Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Tay September 6, 2010, 4:59 pm

    Great tips! My favorites:
    1. Add pumpkin to oats or yogurt (as you obviously know!) to bulk up the fiber and nutrients.
    2. Use whole wheat instead of regular.
    3. Use half caff, half decaff coffee in the morning if you don’t want too much caffeine, but still want a rich coffee taste!

  • Heidi - apples under my bed September 6, 2010, 5:35 pm

    I love all your ideas Caitlin! And you’re right – it is not about restriction. that will only create unhappiness and ‘blow outs’.
    I especially love the pasta idea, with the bed of spinach! Personally, I make sure to add lots of low-fat dairy for calcium. My favourite = an afternoon fruit smoothie! i also like to have yoghurt for dessert 🙂
    Heidi xo

  • virginia September 6, 2010, 6:19 pm

    ugh, i cannot STAND those magazines! they advertise themselves as “healthy living” type magazines, but then all their articles say how to lose 10 lbs in three weeks or GET PRETTY,FAST. uhm, what if i already though i was pretty before your magazine told me otherwise? anyway, this is such a great post, i love it! and that thing about water is so true, my digestive problems (and trust me…there have been many…) have been greatly reduced thanks to me chuggin’ more of that elixir of LIFE. hehe

  • Kelsey September 6, 2010, 7:04 pm

    I LOVE this post! I adore your attitude and approach to healthy living. You are such a positive role model for women everywhere. Thank you for these great tips and for teaching daily through example of the ways you should love and treat your body.

  • Krista September 6, 2010, 7:21 pm

    I like swapping a small amount of full fat, sharp cheese for non-fat/low fat…

  • Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks September 6, 2010, 8:04 pm

    Love your Swaps and Additions!

    For me, my biggest swap has merely been to start cooking at home instead of always eating out. I mean, most of the things I love so much at a restaurant can be made at home, taste just as good, cost a lot less and be so much healthier!

    I cut up my own potatoes and bake them for fries…or buy my own chicken, coat in bread crumbs and make chicken tenders. No frying necessary and just as tasty, if not more so.

    I love using greek yogurt instead of sour cream unsalted almonds (or even better…cinnamon almonds…in moderation of course…) instead of chips for snacks. Dark chocolate instead of milk for my sweet cravings.

    I also started buying local. The Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco is my best friend. It supports the local economy, tastes better than what is in chain grocery stores, is often cheaper and I wind up trying new things. Like pluots!

    I made small changes over time, and it’s helped me lose lots of weight…but I never deprived myself. Sometimes I still ate out, had sour cream or doritos and all of that is fine. It’s not deprivation, it’s moderation!

  • tina September 6, 2010, 8:43 pm

    Love this post!!! I find also if I workout (not a crazy hard just moderate regular day workout) in the morning I have energy all day but if I don’t that mid afternoon sluggishness finds me. I love the spinach idea, just need to find some Gluten Free pasta I can handle the texture of. Water water water!! But I add a splash of juice, or cut up melon and freeze it to throw in my H2O as ice so I don’t get all the calories and sugar but a little bit of flavor and keeps me motivated.

  • Kerri September 6, 2010, 8:45 pm

    I love this list! And you are so right – I am so tired of reading about the usual diet “tips” in magazines. Part of the reason why I started my blog, actually.

  • Wendy @ Seriously Sassy September 6, 2010, 9:11 pm

    I just SO love your blog, Caitlin! 🙂
    Tried quinoa for the first time a couple days ago. DEFINITELY a fan. LOVE that it has protein and is a gluten-free grain. Totally gonna scour your quinoa recipes!
    Thanks for the raw spinach under pasta tip, too – genius.

  • Charlie September 6, 2010, 9:19 pm

    My favorite swap is whole grain instead of white grain… it can’t get easier! I also love to add chia seeds and wheat germ to my smoothies.
    I also think it is sad that magazines are always telling you to restrict something since the thing I love the most is discovering new foods.

  • Laura (Starloz) September 6, 2010, 9:36 pm

    quinoa is my new favorite thing EVER!

  • sarah k. @ the pajama chef September 6, 2010, 9:36 pm

    great tips! i can’t really think of any big swaps/additions i do that aren’t already mentioned but i now have some new additions. thanks! 🙂

  • Ashlee September 6, 2010, 9:41 pm

    Organic Half and Half is a must have in my house!

  • Wendy Irene (Give Love Create Happiness) September 6, 2010, 9:44 pm

    I love the walk instead of afternoon coffee!

  • Nicole September 6, 2010, 9:56 pm

    I just read an article in a health magazine about walking off 10 pounds in a month … so long as you follow this diet plan. The “diet” was nothing in particular but it said to eat no more than 1300 calories per day. The walk was a 3 mile run/walk with strength in between, and they said to follow a 300/400/500 calorie rule with 1 100 calorie snack in between. I thought it was way too low…but maybe I’m wrong? Too low for me anyway…

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 10:49 pm

      I would truly gnaw off my arm if I ate 1300 calories in a day. Older women (like 50+) with a slower metabolism might be able to get away with it, but certainly NOT with a 3 mile run or walk!

  • Kathryn @ Foodies Not Fatties September 6, 2010, 10:01 pm

    I love the advice about walking. I never drink coffee but I always feel a post-lunch slump. Laura and I try to take a brisk 10-15 minute walk right after lunch to make sure we are awake and don’t fall asleep at our desks. Walking has been a lifesaver!

  • Wei-Wei September 6, 2010, 10:38 pm

    Yes! I think that you should write a series like this defying what they say in women’s “health” magazines. Those magazines always seem to say the same thing, over and over and over again… which is why I don’t read them anymore. Don’t restrict yourself! Be freeeeee!

  • Jaime Runs September 6, 2010, 10:53 pm

    Wow Caitlin, what a great, positive post. I can’t wait to have pasta now so I can sneak some spinach in there!

    I agree that women’s health magazines are really very much about removing rather than adding. I’d love to see more articles like this in them. You should pitch an article to some of the more popular mags — I think they would bite.

    I (really want to but) don’t like yogurt. Do you have any tips about sneaking yogurt into things?

    • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 10:57 pm

      what don’t you like about yogurt?

      • Jaime Runs September 6, 2010, 11:04 pm

        I can’t actually pinpoint it. Sometimes I think it’s because I like to chew things, but that’s a lie because I love ice cream 🙂

        I’m just not a huge fan of the taste, and I’ve had all kinds of yogurt in lots of different flavors. I think it would be a great addition to my diet but can never seem to find the right things to put in it that help disguise it. Every time I buy it, I put it in my fridge and it usually just stays there until it goes bad. I open my fridge and look at it and then reach for something else.

        • Caitlin September 6, 2010, 11:08 pm

          eh, I mean…. don’t force yourself to like it! It’s a good source of protein + calcium but so are other things. 🙂

          Can you blend it into smoothies?

  • Gabby @ 20 Year Old Body September 6, 2010, 11:06 pm

    This is such a fantastic post. And I have to say, I love drinking out of mason jars. 🙂

  • Gree September 6, 2010, 11:07 pm

    These are great tips Caitlin! I like the idea of the 2pm walk, that’s when I am always in a slump!

  • Jaime Runs September 6, 2010, 11:10 pm

    I think I’m going to try it with honey since you seem to like it like that and I’ve never tried it that way. It’s worth a shot. and YES — smoothies. good idea. Thanks!

  • Kristy September 6, 2010, 11:11 pm

    Mason Jars Make Me SMILE 🙂

  • darryn (brio.gusto) September 7, 2010, 12:41 am

    Great idea for ADDING things in Caitlin! We need more of that kind of language in our lives.

  • Leanne @ Radiant, Balanced & Fit September 7, 2010, 8:36 am

    Pfffft who needs magazines anymore when we have amazing blogs to read =) Blogs are full of REAL people & are interactive! & if you find the right ones… full of inspiration! (like HTP!)

    Thanks Caitlin for the list! I’ll be looking forward to hearing more of your tips!

  • whitney September 7, 2010, 8:49 am

    great tips!

  • Sara September 7, 2010, 9:16 am

    Thanks so much for your tip about swapping out organic half and half instead of coffee mate! I had NO idea that Coffeemate contained soybeans (I’m usually good at checking the label, but I guess I just assumed- why would it have soybeans in it?) and I’m mildly allergic to them so I really try to avoid them. I chucked mine last night and picked up some organic half and half. Little changes add up to big ones over time!

  • Jennifer (keepitsimplefoods) September 7, 2010, 9:52 am

    Love your swap post! I absolutely detest magazines that essentially suggest that you eat little more than air to be heatlhy. My favorite swap of late is to order a hamburger without the burger for a veggie friendly, reduced cal, and much healthier meal! As far as half and half goes, I prefer coconut milk creamer as a way to cut back on dairy. Yum!

  • Orla September 7, 2010, 10:26 am

    This could be an addition or even a swap – try baking your own wholemeal or brown bread (as it is known in Ireland). while purchasing the ingredients all at once at the beginning can be costly, when you work out the cost per loaf it is only cents! I make a large batch every few weeks that will consist of 4 loaves. I then let it cool and slice it then freeze it in portion size amounts.
    I know exactly goes into it, can make it dairy free as I like and I often add extra nuts and seeds to the dough to make it even better.
    I realise that this may be difficult for some but it really is so worth it.

  • Lana September 7, 2010, 10:32 am

    This was a great post!!! So many people read that crap and think they can just eat a little less processed food or just eat a crappy McD’s salad and douse it with ranch and then they are starving two hours later because they restricted their intake. Yes, I have a friend that is currently doing this and it is hard to see because I know I was once there, but started reading amazing blogs like this one to understand there is so much more to being healthy.

    Life is not about restriction! It’s about living it to the fullest and fueling your body with whole foods. You only get one body, treat it right.

    ok, rant over…lol

  • Hannah September 7, 2010, 11:55 am

    This is a great post. I love how your swaps are easy, but not super-obvious ones I’ve heard a million times. Now that I read a lot of positive healthy living blogs, I am always shocked when I read women’s magazines. They barely seem to have amended the problems they’ve had for decades– the miracle diet article right after the article on loving yourself for who you are; the article on independence along with the article on how to please your man no matter what.

  • suki September 7, 2010, 12:19 pm

    I definitely opt for the organic condiments. You’re only going to use so much that the price difference isn’t that really a big deal when it comes to your health. 🙂

    I also love using brown rice, but it takes much longer to cook.

    Great post.

  • Jess @JessCantCook September 8, 2010, 10:35 am

    I happen to love your blog for just that reason, instead of eating less you most of the time eat more just of healthy food – and it tastes good!

Healthy Tipping Point