Pantry Swap — Chef Sam Talbot’s Healthy Alternatives


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Often a home’s pantry becomes literally a garbage can of leftover bad decisions such as junk food and processed sugars. We all make those purchases that can sit and taunt us every time we go to our cupboards. It’s best to toss the accumulation of poor choices and start anew. Even if your pantry is stocked with what you may think are healthy options, there could possibly be even better choices! Here are my 11 suggestions to building a pantry that you’re proud of.

Once you start making these changes you’ll feel better. It was like night and day for me. The people I’m with are busy people in New York and you can’t move if you don’t eat well. If a little more thought goes into what you eat, you’ll feel it in your skin and even in your steps the next day.

1 – SWAP regular pasta

FOR shiitake noodles, chick pea pasta and brown rice pasta. (Dream Field pasta has some great varieties.)

Why:  You’re not using processed white flour, so your blood sugar is more sustained. Real mushrooms and chickpeas just break down differently.

2 – SWAP Canola oil, vegetable oil, or crisco

FOR olive oil

Why: Olives are filled with good fats. The olives are also less refined, less processed and so therefore it’s cleaner. There are hundreds of varieties. No Trans fats either.

3 – SWAP peanut butter

FOR almond butters

Why: Almonds have more antioxidants—it’s the wonder nut with the good fat.


4 – SWAP sugar

FOR natural honey to sweeten things

Why: White sugar runs through so many different processes to get refined, whereas natural honey is clean.

5 – SWAP white flour 

FOR almond flour, coconut flour, brown rice flour, artichoke flour, chickpea flour

Why: The latter are gluten-free options. They also have more nutrients.




6 – SWAP white rice 

FOR whole grain black or brown rice, quinoa, farro, bulgur wheat, or spelt

Why: People are scared of the names, but they’re still easy to cook! They are also higher in nutrients. More bang for your buck!

7 – SWAP iodized salt

FOR sea salt or kosher salt

Why: It’s closer to the source, there are less chemicals and it tastes like real salt.


8 – SWAP soy sauce 

FOR Tamari sauce

Why: Tamari sauce tastes the same, but it’s typically gluten-free.


9 – SWAP regular milk

FOR unsweetened hemp, unsweetened almond, hazelnut, or oat milk

Why: Too much dairy is not good for you.  We’re the only species that still takes dairy after six months of living. Who doesn’t love cheese? I get it. But it can be artery-clogging, so you should eat dairy sparingly. There’s also a ton of sugar. Hemp byproducts have the least sugar and carbs, but are the highest in protein. Almonds also are antioxidants and are heart healthy.

10 – SWAP cereal bars, granola bars, or fruit roll ups

FOR fruit leather

Why: It’s not made with processed sugar. Bonus: it’s a perfect 15 grams of carbs

11 – SWAP milk chocolate

FOR dark chocolate, the darker the chocolate the healthier

Why: Milk chocolate has more dairy and lots of added sugar whereas heart healthy antioxidants are in the pure cacao (the chocolate bean). Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of cacao.


Read Talking with Chef Talbot about his Culinary Outlook and Inspirations.

Find Sam’s recipe book The Sweet Life on his website!

WRITTEN BY Sam Talbot, POSTED 01/18/16, UPDATED 09/21/22

Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 at the aged of 12. A star in the culinary world, he has turned his love for food into an innovative career, opening several restaurants and participating in season 2 of Top Chef, where he was named "Fan Favorite." He serves as a role model to adults and children alike by applying his "all-natural" style of cooking to every recipe.