Nutritious Alternatives to Your Favorite Foods
By: Dena Gershkovich, Lubicom Marketing Staff
While I have always been a proponent of the “all foods fit” mentality, sometimes it’s nice to make the choice to fuel your body with foods that are more nutritious. While there is definitely a time and place for ice cream, candy, chocolate, French fries and other less nutritious foods, deciding to go with more nutrient-dense options can have a beneficial effect on your overall health. So many things can be influenced by what you eat, including your risk for chronic disease, your energy levels, your ability to focus and even your mood!
People are often hesitant to make changes to their diet because they fear that “healthier” foods will not be palatable. However, that is certainly not the case – you absolutely do not have to sacrifice flavor or enjoyment for nutrition! See below for suggestions of nutritious alternatives that you can enjoy instead of their less-nutritious counterparts.
The suggestions presented in this article are for informational purposes only and should not take the place of medical advice. Before making any changes to your diet, it’s a good idea to check with a medical professional, such as a doctor and/or registered dietitian, to be sure that the changes you’re making are healthy for your body.
1. Instead of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups….
Instead of eating chocolate peanut butter cups, try making apple and peanut butter sandwiches. Do this by cutting an apple into thin slices, spreading peanut butter on two of the slices, and pressing them together to seal. If you’re craving chocolate, feel free to add a couple of dark chocolate squares or pieces to your apple sandwiches.
2. Instead of a Creamsicle…
Instead of eating a creamsicle, peel a tangerine, and separate it into its individual pieces. Heat some chocolate (white, milk or dark) up in a small saucepan until melted. You can add some coconut oil if needed to help achieve a smooth consistency. Dip each tangerine piece, individually, into the melted chocolate, and transfer to a parchment-lined container. Cover, and freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the chocolate hardens.
3. Instead of Nacho Chips Made with Artificial Cheese…
Instead of eating nacho chips made with artificial cheese, enjoy some tortilla chips with hummus, guacamole, salsa, or even a combination of the three! If you’re craving a cheesy snack, put the chips in the oven with some shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese before serving with the toppings of your choice. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can make your own tortilla chips using this method: Cut a whole wheat tortilla or wrap into triangles, spray with olive oil, dust with salt, pepper and spices of choice on both sides, and bake at 400 F until crispy (about 10 minutes). Serve warm.
4. Instead of Soda…
Instead of drinking soda, try drinking unsweetened flavored seltzer. If that doesn’t excite you, try creating your own soda-alternative by dropping a splash of your favorite fruit juice, tea and/or herbs (such as mint or basil) into plain seltzer. You can add a drop of honey or maple syrup if you’d like. The result will be a refreshing drink that doesn’t have nearly as much sugar as your typical cola. Sprindrift has the right idea if you prefer to purchase something pre-made.
5. Instead of Pizza…
Instead of eating pizza, try melting sauce and cheese on a whole wheat wrap, whole wheat bread, a rice cake, zucchini boats, eggplant slices or even on cooked sweet potato halves. Many times we think we are craving pizza when really all we want is some sauce and cheese. These alternatives should satisfy that craving!
6. Instead of French Fries…
Instead of eating traditional French fries, which are usually deep-fried, try cutting a sweet potato or white potato into thin strips. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika, and bake on 415 F – 425 F until crispy (about 40 minutes). Your fries will be extra crispy if you bake them in an air fryer.
7. Instead of Ice Cream…
Instead of eating ice cream, see if some frozen yogurt will satisfy your craving. There are companies, such as Yasso, that make frozen yogurt bars in a variety of exciting flavors. If you are in the mood for something that resembles hard ice cream, try Stonyfield Organic’s frozen yogurt – the vanilla flavor is my absolute favorite! (Please note that these products are certified OU-D.)
8. Instead of Sweetened, Flavored Coffee Drinks…
Instead of purchasing specialty coffee drinks, which often contain a lot of sugar, try preparing your own fun coffee drink(s) at home. If you like your coffee on the sweeter side, try adding some maple syrup to your caffeinated cup instead of sugar. I find that a little bit of maple syrup goes a long way in terms of flavor and sweetness, which can help reduce your sugar intake. Using skim milk instead of whole milk can also help make your coffee more heart-healthy.
Additionally, instead of ordering a pumpkin spice latte from your favorite coffee shop, you can make your own by blending some canned unsweetened pumpkin puree with coffee, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Finish off the drink by adding maple syrup, brown sugar or turbinado cane sugar to your liking. Another option is to blend your coffee with a banana, almond butter, cinnamon and ice for an iced coffee smoothie that’s kind of like a Frappuccino.
What are some of your favorite nutritious alternatives? Please share them in the comments below!
Dena Gershkovich is a dietetic intern, recipe developer, writer and American Barre Technique certified barre instructor based in New York City. To see more of Dena’s work, check out her blog, The Artsy Palate, and follow her on Instagram (@theartsypalate) and/or Facebook (The Artsy Palate).