Healthy Ingredient Swap-Outs

Healthy Ingredient Swap-Outs

White flour vs Whole grain flour

It’s a really scary fact is that this is going to be the first generation where we will outlive our kids. Our Western dietary habits are setting our children up for childhood obesity, diabetes and a whole host of diseases and health condition in their future. Children have never been afflicted with more chronic illnesses and conditions than in present day.

Many parents are unknowingly contributing to this trend . It is frightening to think that the food our children are eating are potentially laying the foundation for mental health problems, cancer, heart attacks, strokes… and the list goes on. 

Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons for this…

  • Highly processed foods tend to be cheaper and more available and these processed foods are void or limited in nutrients but loaded with saturated fats, artificial preservatives, colorings and flavourings that are detrimental to our nervous systems, organs and brain function. 
  • Portion sizes have steadily increased over the years. Do you remember as a kid getting the small cookie and now you just need look at the size of the cookies that are available at Starbucks that little kids are being fed that well exceeds their daily quota of sugar.
  • Both parents are now working in most families, and kids have multiple programs and sports after school resulting in not having time to prepare meals and relying on grabbing some fast food on the road.
  • Normalizing of consuming processed foods as a standard and staple meal or food that our children should consume, as opposed to it being a treat or viewed as unhealthy.
  • Marketing of children’s food products confuse parents into thinking it is a healthy food option, when most packaged and prepared foods are not.
  • Lack of education, understanding and knowledge of how impactful the foods that our children consume are in relation to their behaviours, cognition, mental state, physical health and long-term wellness.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming to make simple changes to your child’s diet and you don’t have to do it all at once. Making small changes over time and making your children a part of the process are two great way to start building healthier family eating habits. You might be surprised of the snowball effect of good, clean, healthy eating with better moods, energy levels, less outbursts, better sleep, weight loss, skin conditions resolving and even better and healthier relationships with one another. 

The number one goal to remember is to eat CLEAN!

Here are some Clean Eating Principles to incorporate:

  1. Eat food that looks like it has been from its original state ie eating a strawberry as oppose to a strawberry roll up (which looks nothing like it’s original form)
  2. Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day
  3. Consume fruit and vegetables on a daily basis for fiber, complex carbohydrates and enzymes. Kids minimum requirement is 5 servings a day
  4. Consume whole grains instead of refined white grained products that are processed and chemically charged
  5. For dinner stick to half the plate being vegetables (salad, cooked vegetables, cut up raw vegetables) and ¼ protein (chicken, fish) and ¼ carbohydrates (pasta, rice, sweet potatoes)
  6. Consume healthy fats each day such as avocado’s, fish, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil
  7. Choose lean proteins such as poultry, fish, wild game, non-GMO soy, legumes or hormone free, grass fed beef.
  8. Stick to healthy portion sizes
  9. Drink lots of water ideally 2-3 liters a day and avoid pop, store bought juices, energy drinks and other processed sugar laden drinks
  10. Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners, sweetened meals with stevia, swerve, xylitol, honey or with fruits such as apple sauce. 

Don’t know where to start?

Here are some healthy switch outs that you can make to your children’s lunches, whether they are craving salty chips or sugary cookies there are healthy alternatives to reduce their sugar-intake and calories and increase their vitamins, minerals, good fats and healthy proteins.

Food Item

Problem with this 

Healthy Alternatives

Health Benefits of this

Packet of chips

No nutritional value, high in sodium and calories, Acrylamide is a chemical in potato chips that forms when you cook potatoes at high temperatures and may increase the risk of cancer and nerve damage. 

· Roasted chickpeas

· Seaweed 

· Kale chips

· Trail mix of nuts (cashews, almond, walnuts, pecans) and/or seeds (pumpkin, chia, hemp, flax, sesame, sunflower)

· Potato salad

Higher in vitamins and minerals, good fats, fiber.

Chocolate bar

High in calories and sugar, no nutrient value 

· Home-made chocolate bark (link to recipe)

· Stevia sweetened chocolate chips

· 70%+ dark chocolate

High in minerals such as magnesium, low in sugar, good fats for brain health and energy, and can hep to satisfy sugar cravings.


Loaded with excess sugar, refined carbohydrates (white flour) that will spike blood sugars, calories, trans fats (to preserve shelf life)

· Healthy muffins

· Home-made cookies sweetened with swerve or apple sauce

· Raw energy balls/bars

High in fiber, good fats, vitamins and minerals, help to feel satiated, reduce sugar cravings and binge eating .

Processed meats (deli meats, salami, lunchables, luncheon meats, hot dogs)

Contain nitrates that have a negative effect on the nervous system 

· Boiled eggs

· Leftover dinner

· Roast chicken

· Hormone free sausages

· Chickpeas or black beans

· Quinoa

· Lentils

Reduced saturated fats, no nitrates and other chemical based preservatives, high in vitamins and minerals, (legumes and lentils also high in fiber)


Loaded with hidden sugar

· Salsa

No sugar, helps increase metabolism 

Packaged and flavoured popcorn

Can contain preservatives, sugars, artificial flavourings 

· Plain, home-made cooked popcorn that you make in a pot or air popper

Free from artificial flavourings and colorings, can add healthy fat like coconut oil

Fruit loops, Frosted flakes and other sugary based cereals

Loaded with sugars that will offset blood sugars affecting mood, energy levels, focus, and cause weight gain

· Plain oatmeal with applesauce, or sliced banana, apples and cinnamon instead of sugar 

· Kashi cereals

· Shredded wheat

· Ezekiel cereals

· Ancient grains

High in fiber, complex carbohydrates, balance blood sugar levels to help with sustained energy and mood. Nutrient dense and high in B vitamins for energy and brain function.

Commercial sugary peanut butters (like Kraft)

Contains sugars and hydrogenated oils

· Unprocessed natural nut or seed butters

· Hummus

· Coconut oil

These spreads contain good fats, and complex carbohydrates, and no sugar or hydrogenated oils

Processed and sugar loaded yoghurts and yoghurt  drinks 

Contain sugars, artificial colorings, flavourings and preservatives

· Unsweetened apple sauce

· Plain Greek yoghurt with raw nuts, seeds and/or fresh fruit added

· Home-made smoothies

· Chia pudding

Nutrient dense with a combination of complex carbs, proteins and fats, can hide vegetable and fruits in smoothies that may not otherwise be consumed

White bread, bagels and crackers

Raises blood sugars, limited fiber, excess calories, nutrients depleted, do not feel satiated.

· Whole grain or brown rice breads, wraps and pitas

· Whole grain or brown rice crackers

Increased fiber and B vitamins, balances blood sugars for more sustained energy and mood throughout the day

Pop (regular or diet)

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame have been shown to increase insulin resistance, weight gain and increase appetite. These drinks provide no nutritional value, Phosphorus in pop can be detrimental to bone health and teeth. Contains caffeine that may cause hyperactivity in kids.

· Zevia drinks (stevia sweetened pop) or sparkling water

· Plain water with cut up fruit and herbs for flavour

Don’t spike blood sugars or contribute to weight gain, help to increase hydration needed for better focus memory and energy



We hope that by sharing these easy ingredient swap-outs, it makes choosing healthier choices for your child’s lunch a little bit simpler! Which swap are you going to try first?





Nut-Free Coconut Chickpea Blondies

Nut-Free Coconut Chickpea Blondies

Coconut Chicken Curry with Zoodles

A “blondie” might not seem like a healthy snack, but when you take a peek at these ingredients, you may be surprised to see how nutrient dense, yet decadent, they really are!

Chock full of nutrients, the star of this blondie is the nutty, buttery chickpeas. With both soluble and insoluble fibre they really pack a digestive punch. The soluble fibre, raffinose in chickpeas, gets broken down by the good bacteria in your gut – which means easier and more regular bowel movements. This is great news for all of us, but especially for kids returning to school, as the added stress and change in routine can often lead to constipation in children.

Sunflower seeds are the perfect pairing, providing plant-based protein and fat to keep energy up and blood sugar levels balanced. Sunflower seeds are also a great source of vitamin E, which helps keep hair, skin and nails looking good while protecting your cells from free radical damage. Unfortunately, approximately 60% of North American’s are not consuming adequate amounts of vitamin E daily. Emerging research suggests vitamin E may have a role in regulating allergic airway disease (like asthma)1, so adequate vitamin E consumption may be an important preventative in pediatric nutrition.

Lastly, coconut oil provides even more healthy fats. The type of saturated fat in coconut oil, medium chain fatty acids, is shuttled to the liver to provide a quick and useable energy source. For adults, eating coconut oil regularly has been shown to support increased metabolism and help promote fat burning, as well as raise HDL (good) cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease. In children, coconut oil provides fuel for the brain to help keep them focused during learning.

This blondie recipe combines good fats with fibre and protein all while keeping the sugars low! There’s just 1 tsp of maple syrup in each blondie making these a solid lunch box addition or a super after school snack and best of all they’re NUT FREE!!

They’re quick and easy to mix together in the food processor, and lining your pan with parchment will make clean up a snap! And because it is so easy to make your kids can make it with you.


  1. Joan M. Cook-Millsand Christine A. McCary. Feb 3 2012. Isoforms of Vitamin E Differentially Regulate Inflammation. PMC3271790.

Nut-free Coconut Chickpea Blondies

A “blondie” might not seem like a healthy snack, but when you take a peek at these ingredients, you may be surprised to see how nutrient dense, yet decadent, they really are!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 16 servings


  • ¾ tsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups Chickpeas cooked
  • ½ cup Sunflower Seed Butter
  • ¼ cup Maple Syrup
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Baking Soda
  • cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut plus extra for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and brush a baking dish with coconut oil (use an 8x8 pan for 16 blondies).
  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the pan. (The batter will be very sticky, so brushing a spatula with coconut oil first will help.) Sprinkle extra coconut over the top and press in gently.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are slightly browned. Let cool for 20 minutes, then cut into squares. Enjoy!


Store in the fridge for 5 days or freeze in an airtight container.
No Maple Syrup
Use honey instead.
Amount per serving:
Calories – 109
Carbs - 11g
Fiber - 2g
Sugars - 5g
Protein - 3g
Fat - 6g
Green Shrek Muffins

Green Shrek Muffins

Coconut Chicken Curry with Zoodles

Do you ever have trouble convincing your kiddies to eat their vegetables? Do they turn their noses up at vegetables? These muffins are your new best friend at helping to smuggle in greens into your kids diet!

Spinach was a superfood before superfoods were cool, providing too many health benefits to list. Most people have heard that spinach is good for the eyes, and muscles, but did you know it’s also good for your immune system? Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin K which acts as a cofactor for some proteins used in immune response, including Natural killer cells – the ones that help fight viruses.

Whole grain oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan. This slowly digesting fibre also make you feel fuller, longer by delaying stomach emptying. Beta-glucan fibre only partially dissolves in the gut making a thick, gel like solution that is a friend to your good gut bacteria – and we all need as much immune support as we can find these days! For the adults in the house, oats can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), reduce blood sugar, and may also improve insulin sensitivity.

Naturally sweetened with both dates and bananas, these muffins provide a solid dose of the essential mineral potassium. In one Canadian study potassium intakes were far below the “adequate Intake” level for all age groups. The European Respiratory Journal found that bananas could decrease wheezing and improve lung function in children with asthma, possibly due to their antioxidant and potassium content. What a simple way to support our respiratory system!

We understand busy families need something quick to prepare. If you’re feeling really keen add some eyes and a smile with a few stevia-sweetened chocolate chips before serving. You can now watch your kids eat their veggies while munching on this delicious Shrek muffin.


Green Shrek Muffins

Naturally sweetened with both dates and bananas, these muffins provide a solid dose of the essential mineral potassium. In one Canadian study potassium intakes were far below the “adequate Intake” level for all age groups. The European Respiratory Journal found that bananas could decrease wheezing and improve lung function in children with asthma, possibly due to their antioxidant and potassium content.What a simple way to support our respiratory system!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 12 muffins


  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • cups Baby Spinach
  • 2 Banana ripe
  • ½ tbsp Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 2 tbsps Pitted Dates
  • ¾ cup Organic Coconut Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 cups Oats rolled
  • 2 tbsp Baking Powder


  • Preheat your oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and line a muffin tin with liners. Brush the liners with coconut oil or use silicone cups to prevent the muffins from sticking.
  • In your blender, combine the baby spinach, bananas, protein powder, dates, and milk. Blend until smooth, then add the eggs, oats, and baking powder. Blend again until a batter is formed.
  • Scoop the muffin batter into the cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Let cool and enjoy!


Recommended Protein Powder
This recipe was developed and tested with a plant-based protein powder. If using a different type of protein powder, results may vary.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days, or freeze for two months or more.
After blending, stir in chocolate chips, fresh berries, walnuts, or anything else you like to add to banana muffins!
Amount per serving:
Calories – 131
Carbs - 16g
Fiber - 2g
Sugars - 4g
Protein - 7g
Fat - 5g
Healthy Lunch Box Challenge

Healthy Lunch Box Challenge

Mother and son preparing lunchbox in kitchen

It has been a long time since our kids were at school and going back to school this year will not be the typical back-to-school experience. With staggered classes, online learning, COVID-19 looming, as well as kids adjusting to a “new normal” after 6 months off, it’s making for a stressful time. 

But putting lunches together should not be stressful! At Koru Nutrition we want to make sure you have the tools and some lunch ideas to help give your child a solid nutritional foundation, whether they are learning from school or at home. Healthy lunches are not only conducive to optimizing their learning experience, but also help to support healthy immune systems! 


Lunch Box Goals

#1. Eat the Rainbow

Health Canada recommends that children 11 and under should be consuming 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. If your children are 12 to 13 years, they require 6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and for teens 14+ females require at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and males 14+ need 8 servings of fruits and vegetable a day. 

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) indicates that approximately 70% of children aged four to eight years, and 65% aged nine to 13 years, do not consume the recommended minimum five servings of fruits and vegetables daily (11). Fruits and vegetables contain fiber to help regulate the bowels and support a healthy gut flora. They contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients to support brain health, mood, and immune system. So, it is vital that we ensure our kids are getting these foods into their diet—ideally at every meal!

If your kids don’t like vegetables, it is amazing where you can hide them. Check out these “Green Shrek Muffins”.

Goal: Incorporate at least one fruit and one vegetable into your child’s lunch box each day.


#2. Choose Healthy Carbohydrates

It’s important to avoid the temptation of putting sugar-laden processed treats into our child’s lunch box. Your kid might be happy in the moment, but you are not doing them any favours with their ability to remain focused, learn and maintain a stable mood throughout the day. Blood sugar imbalances can occur leading to behavioural and emotional challenges both during school hours and after school, which can make it tough on everyone.

Complex carbohydrates not only include the fruits and vegetables above, but they also include whole grains, legumes and lentils. Some healthy options include roasted chickpeas, a whole grain sandwich or wrap, whole grain muffin sweetened with apple sauce (not sugar), left over dinner of brown rice or whole grain pasta, brown or basmati rice (not white rice), or vegetable chilli in a thermos. You can even make some healthy sweet treats from these ingredients such as black bean brownies or chickpea blondies. Complex carbohydrates will help fuel your child’s brain during the day.

Goal: Incorporate 1-2 complex carbohydrates into your child’s lunch box.


#3. Don’t Forget Good Fats

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of healthy fats in your child’s diet and avoiding the bad fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, because these bad fats can displace the good fats from your child’s brain. Healthy fats make up 60% of your brain and are critical to support healthy brain function. Research shows that good fats such as omega-3 can help boost memory and cognition and help support a healthy mood. Healthy fats include raw nuts and seeds, nut/seed butters, eggs, coconut oil, ketogenic recipe snacks, raw energy balls, avocado, and olives, although you may need to avoid nut-based products on days your child is at school. The standard western diet does not tend to provide enough healthy fats for our health, but we can change this!

Goal: Incorporate at least one healthy fat into your child’s lunch.


#4. Eat Clean & Lean Protein Sources

Protein has many important functions for the body and the brain. It helps to make neurotransmitters to help us focus, stay motived, plan and problem solve. However, so much of our children’s options for protein are highly processed and loaded with hidden sugars, artificial colourings and preservatives that only serve to hinder their brain function and health as opposed to help it. Examples of these “unhelpful” protein foods include processed deli meats, luncheon meats, hotdogs, processed cheeses, and Cheez Whiz.

Alternatively, healthy proteins include a boiled egg, left over dinner such as chicken, steak, salmon, cans of tuna, seeds, chickpeas, hummus, seaweed, quinoa, non GMO soy, plain Greek yoghurt, kefir, hormone free sausages, protein powder etc. 

Goal: Include a healthy protein into your children’s lunch each day.


#5. Stay Hydrated

We all hear that we need to drink water, but it helps to know why. Just a 2% drop of hydration can cause fuzzy short-term memory and a 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause 25- 30% loss of energy. But it is important to consider what your child is drinking as most people, including children, are consuming their excess sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages. There is no need to pack juice boxes for kids’ lunches as the health benefits of the fruit juice has been lost in processing leaving a sugar-loaded drink with limited nutritional value. Just stick to good old plain water!

Goal: Have a water bottle packed each day for your child. If they are not partial to plain water, you can use stevia-sweetened flavourings or cut up fruit in it. If it is a hot day add in ice cubes. 


Putting It All Together

Following these guidelines, will be a great start to help give your child the nutrients and fuel they need to stay focused and engaged in learning as well as support a healthy immune system, which in these current times is just as important.

So, each day in your child’s lunch aim to include:

      • At least one fruit
      • At least one vegetable
      • 1-2 complex carbohydrates
      • A good fat
      • A healthy protein
      • Water

With these nutritional bases covered, not only will you be providing your child with the foundation for optimal physical functioning, but you may find other improvements such as improved mood, less tantrums, better sleep and better interactions with their peers and family members. 

All the best during this back-to-school season, and good luck with your lunch box challenge!

Chocolate Cauliflower Shake

Chocolate Cauliflower Shake

Coconut Chicken Curry with Zoodles

Does cauliflower seem like an unlikely breakfast food? Just trust us, keep reading!

The cacao powder in this recipe contains is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available on the planet! But, cacao is also responsible for that familiar chocolatey flavour you know and love! Cacao boasts dense mineral content including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and phosphorus. Plus, it contains a whole host of vitamins and antioxidants along with fibre. Cacao is a superfood, if there ever was one!

Most of us have heard of adding spinach to a smoothie or shake! Well, we’re just taking it up a notch with cauliflower! This vegetable lends itself to a mild flavour and a creamy texture, but that doesn’t mean it won’t pack a nutrient-punch. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, and this family of foods has an affinity for supporting our bodies’ detoxification functions. It contains choline, which is critical for learning and memory, b-vitamins to spark your energy and metabolism, and antioxidants known to protect against cancer.

One ingredient in this recipe you may not be familiar with is maca. Maca is a herbaceous root native to the Andes mountains in South America. Like cacao, maca is a nutritional powerhouse. But, it’s also an traditionally used as an adaptogen – a group of plants that help us manage stress more effectively. On top of that, maca is known to improve fertility and boost libido.

Almond milk, almond butter and banana round out the recipe ensuring a delicious flavour and desirable texture.

Cauliflower for breakfast? Give it a try in this Cauliflower Chocolate Shake!


Chocolate Cauliflower Shake

The cacao powder in this recipe is nutrient-dense!It is not only responsible for that familiar chocolate flavour you know and love! Cacao boasts dense mineral content including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and phosphorus. Plus, it contains a whole host of vitamins and antioxidants along with fibre. Cacao is a superfood! 

  • 2 cups Cauliflower (Fresh or frozen)
  • 2 Bananas (Frozen)
  • 2 tbsp Almond Butter
  • ¼ cup Cacao Powder
  • ½ cup Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 2 cups Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp Maca Powder
  1. In your blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth, pour into glasses and enjoy!

Make It Mocha

Replace half of the almond milk with chilled coffee.

Like It Sweeter

Add pitted medjool dates.

No Maca Powder
Leave it out or use cinnamon instead.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving:
Calories – 449
Carbs – 50g
Fiber – 17g
Sugars – 20g
Protein – 31g
Fat – 16g







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© 2020 Koru Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Koru Nutrition logo 2

© 2020 Koru Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved.