Let’s play a game!! Eat this, and (preferably) not that. There are a few areas of the Pure 21 Wellness Challenge that are a bit trickier than others to navigate when it comes to substitutions for meals and snacks.


One question we want to tackle upfront is dairy. Why dairy, you might ask? Well, for starters, it doesn’t always agree with everyone’s intestines. Lactase, the enzyme that helps us break down the lactose in dairy, is often the first one to ‘go’ in most of our systems. Not only that, but dairy consumed in excess can cause constipation in some individuals. Not fun, huh?

So, instead, we are rerouting with some of dairy alternatives. Soy, almond, coconut, hemp, and oat are not only made into milks, but are also found to be the main ingredient in some cheeses, yogurts, and ice creams (just check the label to make sure there isn’t anything you don’t recognize).

Did you know you can utilize a chicken broth or stock for a soup base, instead of heavy cream or milk? It’s much lighter and still super flavorful! I also love using applesauce or banana as a base to cooking, and nutritional yeast is a powerful protein source and cheese-lookalike.

Coffee Creamer

Next up is a cousin to dairy products and best friend to many morning coffees: coffee creamer. Instead of your classic creamer (check out Katie Couric’s scoop on why you might want to put it down for good), I first suggest trying a flavored brew. Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla ground coffee is a staple in my household, and for good reason. No added calories, no added nothing!

I also love the fact that Nespresso pods can taste just like a Starbucks frothy latte, without all of the added sugars and unnecessary flavoring.

If you’re still saying, “ok, but I can’t do black coffee, what else?”

I suggest adding a touch of stevia (natural, plant-based sweetener) or even sprinkling a little cinnamon on top of your brewed cup! Finally, lean back into those milk alternatives from the last paragraph – you might be surprised what a little frothed original nutpods creamer can do to brighten your morning.


Continuing into the later parts of the day, I love swapping root veggies as a noodle or pasta substitution. My favorite is zucchini, but spaghetti squash, carrots, beets, and khlorabi are all easily found and already shredded or spiralized for you at most stores! In the bread aisle, consider taking a detour to grab lettuce or , if you’re on week three, even sweet potato toast. For pancakes, bookmark and flag the recipe in the book. It is a keeper!!


I definitely want to address the butter conundrum and mention that first and foremost, simple is best. There are a lot of oils and spreads on the market, but for the most flavor, I suggest extra virgin olive oil. It provides omegas, without all the ‘junk.’ I can also attest that coconut oil, avocado and sunflower oil are flavorful oils that you might utilize in dressings and some better-for-you baking recipes. Speaking of, when it comes to dessert, consider making your own from home or leaning into a slightly-frozen smoothie for that bite of sweetness that your buds are asking for!

We’d love to keep playing this game – share your “Eat this, Not that” product spotlight or recipe hack today!

Kayla Hansmann

Kayla Hansmann

B.S., M.S., Dietetic Internship
Kayla Hansmann is a Cincinnati-area dietitian and fitness instructor working with individuals one-on-one, in corporate work-site wellness, as well as various community settings. With experience from Cincinnati Children's Hospital to adult chronic disease management, she is focused on providing comprehensive and personalized nutrition to all individuals in various stages of life to achieve their personal goals and best state of health.