Replace 7 Non-Value-Added “Foods” in 7 Days with Healthier Alternatives



    Shelly’s Simple Suggestions    

    Shelly K, contributor to Dustin's blog

    Yesterday I went to buy a few groceries and one of the things on my list was REAL maple syrup.  I have been eliminating processed foods from my kitchen as best I can for a while now.  Eating “whole” is pretty standard for me now (with planned cheat times), but the hardest part in the household are things I exposed the kids to in an effort to get the healthier foods in, like syrup, ranch dressing, breaded chicken, dried fruit, etc.  I have been successful in replacing whole grain for white in some cases, sauteed chicken for breaded, healthier bars for cereal bars, less chips, more nuts/seeds, etc.  But challenges remain.  I continue to try to swap things out without alienating the kids from their comfort zone.  Here is what I’m working on right now.    


  • Out with The Old

    In with the New

    Less white rice, more wild rice an other whole grains (quinoa, buchwheat, kasha

  • Minimize mayonnaise -> Substitute greek yogurt   

  • Less Canola/Vegi oils -> More coconut or olive oil 
  • No more cereal bars (not shown) -> Replaced with Cliff mini bars, kidz bars
  • Minimize chip other fatty dips (a treat for the holiday weekend) -> Maximize hummus with crackers, veggies, whole wheat pita, falafel
  • Eliminate fake syrup & sugars -> Use real maple syrup
  • Dump the processed ranch dressing ->  Make home-made ranch dressing with herbs experimenting with greek yogurt, milk
  • No chewy “fruit snacks” (I have never purchased these) -> Serve applesauce no sugar added, dried fruits with no sugar added in moderation (fresh/frozen is better)



 Here are a few others to think about:     

  • Eliminate any beverage in a can, bottle or carton (except milk) pretty much-> Drink tap water, milk
  • Stop using fake butter -> Use real butter
  • Replace chips with ->raw nuts/seeds (or even roasted), some healthy crackers
  • Beware of frozen entrees -> Cook from frozen lean meat, frozen/fresh plain veggies
  • Elinate most of what you might “take a handful/spoonful of” that isn’t healthful (e.g. ice-cream, candies, super-processed salty snacks), Replace with mini carrots, nuts/seeds, string cheese, finger fruits (e.g. grapes, apples, bananas)
  • So many more…..

For some of you, I’m guessing your cupboard might be filled with culprits of the not-so-good American diet, while others may be saying, I’m already there with the healthful stuff.  We can all benefit from both types by sharing how we move healthfully forward.    

So are you up for the challenge?  Rid your kitchen of 7 non-value added “foods” and replace them with 7 healthful alternatives.    

Tells us what your 7 changes are!


  1. Great suggestions! I am phasing out lunchmeat in our house. For about the same cost of the better quality deli meat I can purchase a turkey breast or whole chicken and slice thin slices of meat off for our sandwiches (on whole or Ezekial bread of course!). The changes I am making for my family are small, but I am tired of buying groceries for them and groceries for me so I think I will print off your list and be a bit more aggressive.

  2. Good for you! This is a very frustrating endeavor. I get so mad when I think I really found something good, then I REALLY read the label and they snuck something in there that you didn’t notice.

    It makes meal prep a challenge, that’s for sure. It’s hard to not have your old reliables (frozen pizza) on hand for those really busy days!

    We’ve been at this for a while, it gets easier!

  3. Kathleen Larsen says

    What a GREAT post! thanks so much for sharing. I have done most of these as well, and most of my mom friends think I am NUTS. They make me feel so weird sometimes and that my kids only eat “healthy.” I am constantly having to remind them that my kids DO get ice cream, and junk at EVERYONE ELSE’S HOUSEHOLDS because that is all they have. ha ha ha. It feels good to know that I am not alone.

  4. Mary Hoffmann says

    You are so not alone! My kids eat healthy, which is not the norm. It’s unfortunate that more kids are not exposed to REAL food. Other kids make fun of my children for bringing sliced red peppers or cucumbers in their cold lunch at school.

  5. I have been working towards this goal gradually for some time now. I have 3 kids in 6th, 4th and 1st grades so unfortunately I’m past the little kid stage where I could just switch their diet and they didn’t really had a choice or a preference yet. But I am slowly chipping away at it. I have made several “small” changes that didn’t bother them much, next up is my gradually phasing in more and more meals made from whole foods not processed junk. And finally I will make snack food changes. This will be the hardest but I know I have to do it. It will be much easier to change their tastes now than when they’re adults! Thanks so much for the wonderful ideas. I am going to work on it!

  6. Hey – could you share your recipe for ranch dressing? I can’t get my husband to switch to vinaigrette. Thanks!

    • @b.: For Ranch dressing – remember I am still experimenting, but I was pretty pleased with this adapted from the Penzey’s spice combo “Buttermilk Dressing & Dip”.
      Mix 1-2 Tbls spice mix with 2 Tbls water & let stand 5 mins.
      Whisk into 1 cup Fage greek yogurt and a little less than a cup milk.

      A few points to note:
      Since the original recipe calls for Mayo & buttermilk, the consistency is thinner. I might play around with adding a thickner like cream of tartar, but haven’t tried that yet.
      Also, since this has no preservatives I recommend making 1/2 or 1/4 batch and plan to make it fresh as needed.
      Penzey’s has a store in Madison and other locals, but you can also order on line. I love the place.

    • Here’s what I’ve been doing for a ranch dressing substitute since my husband is the same way.

      One 1/2 pint of buttermilk
      1 cup Greek yogurt
      2 tsp. Penzey’s Ranch dressing herb mix (no sodium, all natural)

      Whisk together. So easy.

      (For those local to Madison, Penzey’s is on University Ave., but they also have an online catalog.) This is the same flavor as store bought!

  7. Thank you all for this post. My four children have never had soda or fast food or junk food. I want them to feel good about their choices and usually they do. Education is the key. They read labels and know what they are choosing. I am so proud of them. I am glad that this important information is getting out there.


  1. […] Herbs & Spices  – As I mentioned in a previous blog regarding replacing non-value-added food with healthier foods, I love Penzey’s for dried herbs & spices. Here are a few ideas using some of my […]

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