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Healthy Swaps for Any Meal

October 19, 2021
Healthy Swaps for Any Meal - Lark Health

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You always have choices! When following a meal plan or putting together a meal, you can always swap specific foods for a food that is similar. These are some examples.


  • 3 ounces of skinless chicken breast or leg
  • 3 ounces of lean or extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup of soy protein (TSP) or vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 3 ounces of fish, such as salmon, swai, halibut, trout, tilapia, mackerel, or tuna
  • 3 ounces of shellfish, such as shrimp, oysters, scallops
  • ½ cup of soft, medium, firm, or extra firm tofu
  • 3 ounces of canned tuna in water or 1 pouch
  • ¼ cup canned salmon
  • 1 egg and 2 egg whites, or ½ cup of liquid egg whites or fluid egg substitute
  • 1 meatless, black bean, or other veggie burger
  • Meatless hot dog
  • 3 ounces of falafel (frozen or from dry mix)
  • 3 ounces of tempeh

Grains, Grain Products, and Snack Foods

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread
  • ½ of a whole-grain English muffin, mini-bagel, whole-wheat pita, or small whole-grain tortilla
  • ¼ of a large whole-grain bagel
  • ½ of a whole-grain hot dog or hamburger bun
  • ⅓ cup of cooked whole-grain pasta, brown rice**, wild rice**, quinoa**, barley, buckwheat**, or other grain
  • ½ cup of cooked oatmeal***
  • ¾ cup of plain Cheerios
  • ⅔ cup of Rice Chex**, plain Cheerios**
  • ½ cup of Original Fiber One or unsweetened bran flakes
  • 1 small whole-grain waffle or pancake
  • 3 cups of air-popped Popcorn**
  • ½ ounce of whole-grain pretzels
  • 10 small whole-wheat crackers or 5 woven wheat squares
  • 2 large brown rice cakes or 8 mini cakes
  • ** Gluten-free choice
    ***Gluten-free if noted on package


  • 2 clementines, plums, apricots
  • ½ grapefruit
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 medium pear, apple, nectarine, peach, orange
  • 1 small mango
  • 1 cup watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, strawberries, raspberries
  • ¾ cup of blueberries or blackberries
  • ¾ cup of grapes or pineapple

Dairy (Can Swap for Protein)

  • 1 container (5 to 6 ounces) of plain regular or Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup of nonfat or lowfat milk
  • ½ cup of low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 ounce of low-fat or nonfat cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, jack, or other hard cheese
  • 1 regular or low-fat cheese stick (string cheese)
  • ¼ cup of low-fat, part-skim ricotta

Starchy Vegetables

  • ½ cup of sweet potato or yam
  • ½ cup of mashed potato, 3 ounces of baked or boiled red, white, gold, Russet potato (¼ large or ½ medium)
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup of winter squash (such as acorn, butternut, or kabocha)
  • ½ cup of succotash, parsnip, green peas, corn kernels
  • ½ large cob of corn

Legumes (Can Swap for Protein or Starchy Vegetable)

  • ½ cup of cooked dried beans (from 1 ounce dry) or low-sodium canned beans, such as garbanzo, black, pinto, refried, kidney, navy, lima, fava, or northern
  • ½ cup black-eyed, split peas
  • ½ cup lentils


  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil, or canola, sesame, peanut, corn, or other vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons trans fat-free margarine
  • 1.5 tablespoons of light, trans fat-free margarine
  • ¼ cup mashed avocado

Nuts and Seeds

  • 1 tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
  • ½ ounce or 2 tablespoons of nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • 12 almonds, 9 cashews, 6 hazelnuts, 4 Brazil nuts, 17 peanuts, 7 pecan or walnut halves

Non-Starchy Vegetables

(If eaten raw or cooked plain without added ingredients, portions of non-starchy vegetables can be nearly unlimited!)
  • Artichokes
  • Arugula (rocket)
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Bell pepper (green, red, yellow, orange)
  • Bitter melon
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (red, Napa, and green)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Greens (mustard, collard, dandelion)
  • Jicama
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce (romaine, iceberg, green leaf, red leaf, butter)
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Mushrooms (portobello, button, crimini, shiitake, etc.)
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Snap peas and sugar snap peas
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini

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