10 Real Food Substitutions

10 Real Food Substitutions

It’s been almost a year since I encountered the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon – a book which has completely changed my family’s life, sending us on a journey to seek out real, traditional, unprocessed food.

Here are 10 Real Food Substitutions to help remove processed, harmful foods from your diet and replace them with nourishing alternatives.

10 Real Food Substitutions 

1.  Mayonnaise

I’ve been using Plain, Natural Yoghurt in place of Mayonnaise for a while now. I find that taste testers can rarely tell the difference and plain natural yoghurt doesn’t have any of the scary ingredients that store bought mayo does. I particularly like to use Natural Yoghurt in place of Mayo in Egg & “Not” Mayo.

2. Sweet Treats

Making brownies and other sweet treats with dried fruit and nuts instead of being laden with processed sugars and flours is a nourishing sweet treat alternative.

3. Fruit Yoghurt

My Mum loves fruit yoghurt and so I came up with this substitution for her – instead of buying berry yoghurt full of artificial ingredients, get yourself some plain, natural yoghurt and then use a pouch of organic baby fruit puree for the fruity sweetness. A little crazy I know… I wouldn’t suggest doing this often, but once in a while it is a nourishing alternative to those sugar sweetened, artificially coloured fruit yoghurts.

4. Oils

Unfortunately vegetable oils (including canola and sunflower) are detrimental to our health.

Substitute with coconut oil for cooking/heating and olive oil for drizzling over salads or cooked dishes.

Coconut oil does well with high heats and is divine… once you’ve fried eggs in coconut oil you will never go back!

5. Sugar

Processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other refined sweeteners are “empty calories” best avoided and substituted with nourishing sweeteners like Raw Honey, Rapadura, Coconut Sugar or Palm Sugar. Dried fruit or apple puree could also be used in place of refined sugars in sweet treats.

6. Cereal

For a number of reasons, I no longer feed my family cereal for breakfast in the morning. (You can read about the research which brought me to the conclusion that cereal is a food best avoided here.) For a more nutritious alternative, homemade granola (without oats if you’re grain free) is a sensible option, otherwise forget cereal/granola all together and go for eggs for breakfast instead.

7. Jam

Rhubarb Jam in Bottles

The first ingredient on many jam jars is sugar, so this seemingly innocent spread can very quickly send the kids on a sugar high. Homemade Jam is super simple to make and you are in control of how much sugar (or other natural sweetener such as Raw Honey) goes into the spread. My kids adore Rhubarb Jam and, best of all, Rhubarb is a vegetable so they are actually consuming a serve of vegetables when they enjoy their pancakes spread with Homemade Rhubarb Jam.

8. Dairy

We have switched to Full Fat Dairy and haven’t looked back. Not only does full fat dairy taste richer and more wholesome, it doesn’t have the (usually) processed, artificial sweeteners added to low fat dairy needed to sweeten it. See 6 Secrets You Didn’t Know About Skim Milk from Butter Believer if you need a little more convincing to get rid of low fat dairy.

9. Meat

Switching meat products to Grass Fed (as opposed to grain fed) and (ideally) Organic promotes better health for you and (should) mean a happier existence for the animal, as they’re free to roam and explore natural pastures (as opposed to being stuck in a giant barn being fed potentially harmful grains).

10. Broth & Stock

Ditching stock cubes/ready made stock and making bone broth or homemade stock instead will reward you with dishes rich in natural vitamins and minerals. Once you’ve made your bone broth see 10 Ways To Get Your Kids To Consume More Bone Broth for inspiration to get more nutritious broth into your kids.

I’d love to hear from you. Please share your favorite real food substitutions in the comments below.

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Balanced Keto Meal Plans


  1. Great ideas. Another one for sweetening the yogurt, I take frozen organic fruit, like blueberries and warm them up. Some of the juice comes out and then you can mix it all in the yogurt.

  2. Great List! I agree with everything. For those not following GAPS, I would say to start replacing all white flour with Whole wheat, spelt or other grains.

  3. Visiting from Chef in Training’s link party! These are great substitutions! I don’t find a lot of recipes with mayo but I don’t like it, so whenever I do see it, I’ll be sure to use yogurt instead =)

  4. I’ve done all except for the using real yogurt (don’t get me started on the commercial stuff) in place of mayonnaise. I usually eat my yogurt plain or with a bit of stevia and cinnamon (and maybe a dusting of good cocoa powder and cayenne pepper) but I’ll definitely try the fruit puree on my other half, who distrusts and won’t eat anything that hasn’t been processed and sweetened to death.

    Another good substitution that comes to mind is for soda… kombucha or mineral water + appropriate flavoring, which can be either a fruit juice or flavored stevia (but make sure you check the labels to make sure the ingredients are acceptable).

  5. We make our own homemade mayo with our own fresh eggs and olive oil 🙂

  6. A yummy substitue for cereal is a bowl of fresh fruit. If you chop an apple, a banana, and an orange into small bite size pieces toss them in a bowl with some juice from the orange and a handful of chopped nuts like walnuts, you have just made your self a yummy cereal. You can pour over some raw milk (or what ever you use) and you are good to go.

    This might be too much glucose for some, but its gotta be better then dried flakes out of a box. Maybe?

    • @ Eco House – That sounds SUPER delicious! And if you added just a bit – or even a whole lot, lol – of cream to that (if you’re not lactose intolerant), that would be an AWESOME start to the day! Gotta try that…

  7. I’ve learned it’s bad to heat oils so I usually put olive oil and coconut oil after my food is already heated and out of the oven.

    seeds, nuts, millet, cinnamon, banana, pecan – great breakfast cereal