If you’re like most people, then chances are you love junk food. Regardless of the type of junk food you enjoy eating, you’re undoubtedly aware that it likely isn’t healthy. So, if you’re trying to eat healthier, it doesn’t mean that you can never again enjoy your favorite junk foods. In fact, as long as you only choose special occasions to indulge in your favorite yet not-so-nutritious snacks, it shouldn’t have a serious impact on your health to continue eating them. However, you might be wondering what you’ll enjoy on the other days when you’re craving your favorite snacks. Here are four delicious healthier junk food alternative categories that you can snack on daily, if you choose.
Potato chip alternatives – If you crave crunchy, salty snacks like potato chips, then you’re in luck, as there are plenty of delicious alternatives available. These are some of the chips you can find at health food stores and some finer grocery stores:
• Kale chips – If you like eating kale, then you will love kale chips. You can make your own and add any seasoning that you like, or you can purchase them from stores in your area. You’re bound to love the crunch and saltiness of these chips so much that you will feel like you’re eating “junk.”
• Beet root chips – This is another possibility that can enable you to derive a great deal of nutrition while satisfying your craving for the crunch and saltiness of traditional potato chips. Beet root chips come in many of the same flavors that potato chips do, so you may feel like you’re “having your chips and eating them too!”
• Sweet potato chips – You should be able to find sweet potato chips at just about any grocery store, but you want to look for a high-quality brand that doesn’t have a lot of undesirable ingredients such as inflammation-contributing oils like soybean or corn. Sweet potato chips can satisfy your sweet tooth and potato chip craving simultaneously.
• Squash chips – Squash chips have fewer carbohydrates and calories than your typical bag of potato chips, which is great regardless of the healthy eating plan you’re on. You won’t find squash chips at every store, but you should be able to find them online and at most health food stores. Squash chips are tasty and healthy, and theycan certainly satisfy your craving. Pair them with your favorite dip and enjoy!
While these delicious healthy alternatives to traditional potato chips can be found at most health food stores, you’re likely to find even more healthy choices while shopping. If you like experimenting in the kitchen, you can even make some “potato” chips of your own using your favorite vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, zucchini, rutabaga, and green beans are just some ideas, although the possibilities are limitless. For the times when you do indulge in traditional potato chips, you can keep it as healthy as possibly by ensuring you purchase brands that contain healthier oils like olive, avocado or coconut, which don’t contribute to inflammation like some high omega-6 conventional choices can.
Candy alternatives -You don’t have to be a kid to have a sweet tooth, and candy is a common craving among those who have a sweet tooth. Unfortunately, regardless of how tasty it may be, conventional candy contributes to tooth decay as well as spikes in glucose levels. There are, however, some enjoyable alternatives to candy that may make you forget about your sugar-laden favorites.
• Fruit – Fresh, frozen, and dried can be excellent alternatives to candy. While your first instinct may be to state that there’s no way fruit can take the place of candy, if you’re creative enough, it can. Frozen bananas, dried apple rings, or even a bowl of grapes could satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth.
• Homemade candy – If you like cooking and baking, then making your own candy could be fun. By making your own candy, you can control the ingredients, including which sweetener you use, what type of flour, if any, etc. There are many candy recipes that only use dates as the sweetener, along with nuts, coconut, and dark chocolate. By using these ingredients, you will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but you will be able to take advantage of the many health benefits that these ingredients provide at the same time.
• Honey roasted nuts – While store bought honey roasted nuts are generally unhealthy, if you opt to roast your own it will be a lot healthier. All you do is drizzle your favorite raw nuts with a bit of honey, butter, and salt, if you desire, and roast until lightly toasted. The only downside is your snack is apt to be so tasty that you may be tempted to overeat, so be sure to share.
• Low calorie/carbohydrate candy – If you check at your local grocery and health food stores, you will likely come across an abundance of “keto” and “low calorie” candy alternatives. In the past, candy alternatives like these contained unhealthy ingredients like high sodium and artificial sweeteners. However, these treats have come a long way and many of them now contain healthier sweeteners like stevia or sugar alcohols, lower sodium levels, and other nutritious ingredients.
Soda alternatives – There aren’t many people that don’t enjoy an ice-cold soda from time to time. Not only are these drinks refreshing, but they taste great as well. However, the average 12-ounce can of soda contains the equivalent of 18 packets of sugar. Again, sugar leads to tooth decay, spiked blood glucose levels, and even addiction. Many researchers compare sugar to cocaine when it comes to how the brain responds to it.
• Kombucha – If you have never had Kombucha before, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Not only is Kombucha fizzy just like a soft drink, but the abundance of flavor that you will derive from it will make you forget about your sugar laden soft drinks that you’re used to. While a bottle of kombucha is typically around $3 or $4, much higher than a soda, the health benefits far outweigh the cost. Besides, you don’t have to buy them daily.
• Stevia-sweetened sodas – Instead of drinking your typical diet sodas that are filled with unhealthy sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, why not try some of the stevia-sweetened sodas? These specialty sodas can be found at grocery stores, health food markets, and more, and they usually contain zero calories, no carbohydrates, and are very tasty. If you don’t care for one flavor, try another. Chances are you’ll find at least one that you like, and you can indulge without any guilt whatsoever.
• Naturally sweetened tea – While tea won’t have the fizziness that the other two choices do, if you buy the right ones, you will be pleasantly surprised by the taste. There is no particular brand to look for, but when looking for naturally sweet tea bags, make sure it states that the tea has a sweet taste. These tea bags must be brewed hot, but you can drink them cold, which should bring out some of the sweetness. One choice that is especially sweet and tastes delicious cold can be purchased contains cinnamon as its main ingredient. It also states on the package that it has a sweet taste, so you don’t need to add any type of sweeteners.
Ice cream alternatives- There’s nothing more soothing and enjoyable than a bowl of sweet and creamy ice cream. However, if you’re trying to remove sugar and possibly even dairy from your diet, then conventional ice cream must be saved for special occasions. Luckily, there are many alternatives, and here are some great choices:
• Homemade banana ice cream – Believe it or not, you can make ice cream using frozen bananas that doesn’t have a banana taste. All you do is gather, slice up and freeze overripe bananas. Once they’re completely frozen, place the bananas in a high-powered food processor and blend until it becomes the consistency of ice cream. You can add dark chocolate, strawberries, nuts, and other healthy add-ins. You can even freeze other fruits and blend them with the bananas for different flavors.
• Low-carb and low sugar choices – If you check the frozen section at your local grocery stores, chances are you’ll find numerous alternative ice cream choices. By checking the labels and ingredients, you should be able to find some alternative ice creams that are both healthy and delicious. If you’re following a low carb diet, there are many keto varieties available, or if you’re avoiding dairy and gluten, there are just as many varieties available. Just make sure you’re getting wholesome ingredients without artificial flavors, sugars, or other ingredients.
• Avocado ice cream – If you check the internet, you will notice that more and more ice cream recipes are being created with avocado. Not only is avocado low carb and low sugar, but when blended, it’s very creamy, which is ideal for ice cream. The good thing is that you don’t taste avocado in most ice cream recipes made from them, so if you don’t like the taste of avocado, don’t worry. Recipes can be found in low carb dessert books and online.
• Coconut cream ice cream – Again, if you like to experiment in your kitchen, you will love some of the many coconut cream ice cream recipes that are sweetened with honey, coconut sugar, or other natural sweeteners. You can search online for some of the many recipes available and start experimenting. The good thing about making your own ice cream is that you’ll be able to create the flavors that you love the best, while eating healthy in the process.
There is no reason to deprive yourself of your favorite treats if you enjoy snacking and eating desserts. However, if you’re trying to follow a healthier diet, then you will have to save your conventional favorites for special occasions. You don’t have to despair, though, because these smart alternatives will help to satisfy your cravings and enable you to stick to whatever nutrition program you’ve developed for yourself. Chances are high that you will love some of these alternatives so much that you won’t miss your previous unhealthy choices.