Editor’s Note: Join Monitor staff writer Daniel A. Flores for candid thoughts and no- bull access on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

We’re going to do something a little different this week. The next installment will hit mental health, and I’m a bit of a mess, so I wanted to focus on something lighter.

If you’re just joining us, I shared my intentions to start an overall lifestyle change at the beginning of the month. The project will last the rest of the year, but hopefully I’ll have (positively) brainwashed myself into continued healthy choices moving forward, as most experts I’ve consulted stress patterns of good decisions versus racing to a single goal.

Replacing behaviors is key to any positive change, as I’ve written. And I’ve been advised to do things like skip soda for water, and replace mindless binge watching with movement. These are common-sense things.

And if we replace a negative with a positive, then it’s a double whammy of wellness. It’s like if LeBron James would have stolen a Golden State Warrior to the Lakers; improvement through addition and subtraction.

And as we’ve seen with LBJ, it’s not that simple.

One of my favorite substitutions is using veggies instead of pasta noodles. First of all, I’m not a paid spokesperson for the Veggetti, an inexpensive As Seen on TV vegetable spiralizer.

But this small kitchen tool is pretty impressive for the price. You can turn a whole zucchini or sweet potato into noodles very quickly. It also doesn’t take long to cook with a bit of oil on the stove top.

Vegetables are a healthier alternative to traditional pastas, which have more calories and carbohydrates. (I’m not here to say obsessing over only one metric is the best way to eat, but it’s good to have options and diversify, as part of a balanced diet.)

Also, most of us could use more vegetables, and finding ways to incorporate them into familiar dishes could help picky eaters.

If you don’t have a spiralizer, then you can purchase pre-spiralized veggies at some grocery stores. But the Veggetti costs about $10, so it’s a pretty good investment.

Another delicious replacement, introduced to me by a local healthy food enthusiast, is using bananas in pancakes instead of traditional batter. This substitution is gluten- and dairy-free.

Simply mash one banana and two eggs together. Then, grill on a skillet with oil. Flip like you would a regular flapjack, and keep them small so they’re more likely to stay together.

Experiment with adding cinnamon or chocolate chips into the mix, or top with fruit or Greek yogurt. It’s really easy and kid friendly.

I’m going to start incorporating more recipes into future installments. So if you know of a good substitute, let me know.

Email me, or share your questions via #healthyrgv. Posts could end up in publication, or as the basis of future installments. I encourage you to start your own personal health journey, and tell me about it using #healthyrgv.