We get it. We all have cravings. We all indulge. It can be hard to start a new healthy eating plan and stick to it without eating our favorite savory snacks and treats like candy, popcorn, ordering burger and fries or scooping your spoon in the ice cream carton a dozen times while you settle in on the couch for a movie. In today’s times it may be even tougher to control yourself from hitting up your fridge or pantry for the 11th time in a day (hello quarantine life) just out of pure boredom!
What if we told you there are ways you can enjoy the same delicious treats but in a healthier “version?” We put together a list of 11 food swaps (in no particular order) for you to try when you want to keep up with your fitness goals, yet still enjoy these tasty treats! Try them out, or swap them out; rather, and save on the calories!
1. PB&J Sandwich: take 2 slices of Ezekiel bread, 1 TBSP all natural peanut butter & 1/2 cut-up strawberries and put them all together! So simple! It’s a healthier version of the classic childhood sandwich!
2. Movie-Theater Popcorn: We love buttery popcorn as much as the next movie-fanatic but with all that oil and butter, it’s not always the best thing for our bodies! Try grabbing Smart Food popcorn in white cheddar or salted caramel. This snack is even perfect for on-the-go. Place a portion (or two) in a ziplock baggy and carry it in your carry-on. It’s a great little snack without all the extra fat that will still satisfy that popcorn craving!
3. Chocolate Chip Cookies: this healthier cookie dough bite will kick that sweet tooth to the curb! **This recipe yields 10**
• 2/3 cup Natural Peanut Butter
• 1scoop protein powder (you can use vanilla, chocolate, even products from GHOST alike peanut butter cereal or pancake batter flavor)
• 1 TBSP pure honey
• 3TBSP Dark chocolate chips
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together till a solid dough forms. Use a spoon to “scoop” and roll dough into ten balls. Place on plate and refrigerate for an hour or two until firm.
4. Pasta: if Italian is your favorite food, we gotcha! Of course having the real thing every once in awhile is amazing, but if you gotta have it more often, spaghetti squash is the way to go!!! Checkout this easy recipe from Lauren Conrad.
5. Fruit Juice: If you like juices, but not necessarily all the sugar that comes with it try adding fruit. For a healthier version of Cranberry juice, for example, try adding raspberries and blueberries to a glass of water! Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and the natural juices will infuse your water, making it a natural yet tasty sweet refresher! You can do the same with oranges and lemons for a more citrus flavor like orange juice or lemonade.
6. French Fries: if you’re craving these, swap them out for sweet potato fries with sea salt instead! Make your own by cutting up a few sweet potatoes, drizzling on some olive oil and sea salt, and pop them in the oven for 45-50 minutes at 350-400 degrees until they meet your “crispy” desire!
7. Ranch Dressing: sure it goes perfectly with salads, cut up veggies, and more. But a little bit can add up in terms of unwanted fats and calories. Instead, opt for a healthier version that tastes equally as good using Greek yogurt. Take 1 cup Greek yogurt and add dill and garlic salt seasonings and you’ve got yourself an amazing dip!
8. Pancakes: we all love a good pancake- especially on a Sunday morning! If you are a pancake lover like us, you can have them everyday with this delicious protein pancake recipe below:
Take 1 scoop protein powder (We recommend GHOST protein powders). Add 1-2 TBSP almond milk and 2 TBSP eggwhites with a ‘pinch’ of baking soda to help the pancake rise! Stir up the batter, spray a skillet with olive oil cooking spray, and pour the batter onto the skillet. Cook until you can “slide” the pancake around the skillet then flip it over. For an added treat, top it with fresh berries!
9. Ice cream: we all scream for ice cream, right?! It’s definitely a popular treat for those warmer months! To keep it healthier, try taking 1-2 scoops of protein powder, 2 TBSP of peanut butter, 1 TBSP cocoa nibs (or dark chocolate chips) and 1 cup almond or coconut milk and placing in a blender or food processor until creamy. Pour into a bowl and enjoy! Too lazy to make your own? No problem. Brands like Halo Top and Enlightened make ice cream that’s low in calories and sugar, full of protein and yet still tastes just as good as the real thing!
10. Burger: there’s nothing better than a juicy, delicious burger from time to time, but if you’re ever craving one for dinner in the middle of the week, try this out instead! Place a turkey burger (already cooked of course) between two large Portobello mushrooms or a whole wheat English muffin Use spinach, arugula, or whatever greens you like. Top it with tomatoes, feta, or mozzarella cheese,ketchup and mustard and your burger craving will be taken care of in no time!
11. Sour Candy: we love sour candy like jelly beans, sour patch kids and if you haven’t tried them – Sour strips!! But when you want something a little healthier reach for a grapefruit! Or better yet, take green grapes, roll them around in a jello mix powder (we like using cherry or lemon flavor) and then freeze them for a few hours until they are hardened a little bit. You’ll get the same sour taste, but just a healthier version of your fav candy!
This isn’t to say you can never have these foods, but have them in moderation–save them for a date night out, a get-together with friends, or as part of your weekly treats. By incorporating the healthy swaps above, you can save on the calories, satisfy those cravings and keep up with your fitness progress.