Adding Variety

Adding Variety

Mixing it up is not just better for your tastebuds – it’s also better for your health. Increasing the diversity of foods we eat supplies a wider variety of nutrients (therefore filling in any potential gaps). It also helps us stay more mindful with food when we’re not on auto-pilot, eating the same choices over and over.

“Swaps” to try for boosting variety

If you like rice, try…

  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Amaranth

If you like spaghetti, try…

  • Switching up the noodle shape (penne, elbows, angel hair, etc.)
  • Switching up the base-grain (quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice, etc.)
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Orzo

If you like a baked potato on the side, try…

  • Mini colorful potatoes
  • Sweet potato
  • Mashed potato or mashed cauliflower
  • Potato soup
  • Oven-roasted potatoes

If you like black beans, try…

  • Lentils
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Red, navy, or red beans

If you’re a peanut butter fan, try…

  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Almond butter
  • Cashew butter

If you eat almonds as a snack, try…

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Mixed nuts
  • Flavored almonds (coated in spices)

If you usually cook chicken, try…

  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • A plant-based protein (beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.)

If you like hummus, try….

  • Babaganoush
  • Pesto
  • Guacamole

If you like yogurt, try…

  • Cottage cheese
  • Kefir
  • Overnight oats

If you like apples, try…

  • Pears
  • Asian pears
  • Peaches

If you make your smoothies with milk, try…

  • Silken tofu
  • Yogurt
  • Coconut water

If you typically choose mixed greens for salad, try…

  • Arugula
  • Romaine
  • Red lettuce
  • Cabbage or broccoli slaw
  • Endive

More Tips for Adding Variety

If you notice you’re consistently sticking to the same patterns, here are ideas for diversifying:

  • It’s easy to go on auto-pilot when we cruise through the produce aisle and always get the same options. See if every week when you shop, you can pick up one new fruit or vegetable that you did not buy the week prior.
  • Likewise, take inventory of what color produce you buy. If you consistently choose red (tomatoes, bell peppers), can you add purple, orange, or white? Each color in fruit and vegetables is a different flavonoid – i.e., an active plant chemical that helps prevent chronic disease – so diversifying colors means diversifying these compounds.
  • Shop seasonal. Buying what’s in season can help push you outside of your comfort zone – plus boost the freshness of what you’re eating.
  • If you’re sick of the same old recipe, pick your friends’ brains! Ask what her favorite go-to dinners are.
  • You can boost variety while eating out, too. If you’re a big Chipotle fan, see what additional ingredient you might try out next time you’re ordering there. It sounds small, but you might be surprised how much these little shifts help us connect with our food better.

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