There’s nothing more annoying than health articles suggesting celery sticks and boiled eggs as satisfying alternatives to serious junk food cravings. While celery may work at the beginning of a well-intentioned diet, it’s not always a realistic solution for a long-term healthy lifestyle.
Cravings are usually very specific. If you’re thinking about something chewy and sweet, like a chocolate chip cookie, a garden salad simply isn’t going to cut it. So here’s how to satisfy your biggest bad food desires with a healthy alternative of similar taste and texture.
1. French fries
Who doesn’t crave a plate of fries from time to time? Next time you’re feeling the urge, trypan frying some sweet potato wedges in coconut oil. Sweet potatoes contain potassium and other important nutrients, while coconut oil has enough healthy fat to keep you full for a while. The wedges can also be baked in the oven if you want to avoid frying in oil.
If you can’t get the idea of a salty and crunchy snack out of your mind, try microwaving some popcorn (hold the butter) and sprinkling a modest amount of sea salt over it for a healthy substitute to potato or corn chips. If you really want to get fancy, the same can be done with roasted chickpeas and garlic and herb salt.
If a night in with a delicious pizza is what you’re after, try making a slightly healthier version at home. Use whole wheat pita bread as your base and top it with cottage cheese, fresh tomato, basil, and oregano. Throw on some shaved turkey if you want to add some meat to the mix. Bake on a baking sheet or tray in the oven until it’s nice and hot.
4. Fried chicken
This craving alternative isn’t as greasy, but it’s definitely just as tasty. Rub some raw chicken wings with dried herbs and hot sauce and then sear them on the barbecue, in the oven, or in a frying pan. For different flavors you can try barbecue sauce, crushed garlic, or honey and soy. If you don’t want to marinate the wings, you can cook them plain and use a light dipping sauce.
5. Bagel with lox
This is a great alternative if you’re looking for the flavor of your favorite bagel filling without all the bulk. Get some slices of smoked salmon and wrap them around the ingredients of your choice. Basically the same things you’d want on your bagel: a small spread of cream cheese, tomato slices, and even avocado work well.
Cheesecake is undoubtedly delicious, but it’s also one of the highest calorie items you can eat. Instead, layer a glass with granola and fill it with natural Greek yoghurt. Top with some berries or a squeeze of lime and, if you’re feeling very hungry, add some crushed walnuts or almond slivers.
7. Ice cream
This one requires a bit of preparation, but if you’re an ice cream lover it’s good to have on hand. Take a popsicle stick and place it through the middle of a banana, then dip it in some melted dark chocolate and crushed walnuts before freezing. This is also a tasty snack for anyone who craves a banana split from time to time.
8. Candy and chocolate
The ultimate in sweet cravings can be curbed with just a little imagination. Grab a bowl and fill it with your favorite fruits. Berry combinations such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries work really well. Alternatively, you could go tropical with pineapple, mango, and passion fruit. Once you’ve got your combo right, add some pieces of 70 to 85 percent dark chocolate.
Soda can be addictive, so try replacing the sugary drink with a naturally calorie-free mineral water or club soda. For the sweetness you’re looking for, squeeze a lime, lemon, orange, or grapefruit wedge into your beverage. It won’t taste as sweet as soda, but you’ll appreciate the bubbles and get used to the more tempered flavor.
10. Apple pie
For a warm and wintry dessert that isn’t as caloric as a traditional apple pie, try this: Chop up a red apple and bake the slices in the oven. When they’re nice and soft, sprinkle some cinnamon on top. You could also top them with nutmeg.