Potato chips, cookies, ice cream, and pizza… These are some of our favorite foods, but let’s be honest, we know they aren’t the healthiest options to eat. While there’s nothing wrong with letting yourself indulge from time to time, many of us are seeking “better-for-you” swaps.
To help you build a more balanced diet, we’re sharing six healthy junk food alternatives. These are meals and snacks you can reach for whenever those cravings hit or when you need to make swaps for your favorite junk food.
1. Enjoy Spinach or Kale Chips Instead of Potato Chips
If you’re guilty of always reaching for those salty potato chips when you’re in need of a snack, you might want to try something a little less packed with fat and sodium. Instead, try munching on a spinach or kale chip instead.
If you can’t find them in your local grocery store, they’re actually pretty simple to make yourself. All you have to do is add a little cooking spray to a pan, season with a little sea salt, and pop them in the oven until they start to look crispy. Before you know it, you’ll have a crunchy, delicious snack to enjoy. The best part is they taste like chips but you’ll be getting in your daily dose of greens and you won’t have to feel guilty about enjoying them.
2. Create Healthy Cookies With Apple Slices
Instead of reaching for your favorite peanut butter cookies, go for apple slices instead. Simply cut an apple into flat slices, then add your favorite toppings for additional flavor. Some great options include peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter. If you really want, you can also add a few chocolate chips to satisfy any chocolate cravings. Make them dark chocolate (80%+ cacao) for the ultimate health benefits.
You can enjoy them open-faced, or put two apple slices together to create a sandwich style cookie. This is something you can enjoy, but kids will love as well. The best part is that apples are loaded with fiber and provide a number of other health benefits for you.
3. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Banana Ice Cream
Who doesn’t love a delicious bowl of ice cream, especially on a hot day? Ice cream is definitely a favorite go-to treat, however it’s not the healthiest option. It’s loaded with sugar and can have other mysterious ingredients.
For an alternative to this junk food, whizz up some banana ice cream instead. All you need to do is place some frozen bananas into a blender along with any other flavorings you might like. You can add some peanut butter and honey or go for a fruity flavor with a handful of blueberries. This is one treat you can enjoy totally guilt-free!
4. Snack on Savory Almonds Between Meals
If you’re the type of person who prefers more savory snacks, why not reach for a handful of seasoned almonds instead? Plain almonds don’t always satisfy those cravings, so you can get creative and whip up a batch with your favorite flavors. One idea is to create some rosemary-garlic almonds that provide that savory flavor you’re craving, with a pinch of saltiness.
They make the perfect afternoon snack and they’ll keep you full in between meals. Almonds are great since they provide plenty of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and protein. They also contain healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
5. Switch Up Your Pizza With a Cauliflower Crust
For all those pizza lovers out there who can’t resist having a slice or two, you can always make your meal a little healthier by swapping the wheat crust for one made of cauliflower. You might be thinking it’ll never taste as good as a regular crust, but in many cases, you won’t even know the difference! A cauliflower crust is easy to make, plus many brands sell already-made ones in your local grocery store.
6. Try Veggie Noodles in Your Pasta
Another easy swap you can make is to ditch the regular wheat noodles for your bowl of pasta. These days, so many people are turning to veggies in place of standard noodles. All you need is to pick your veggie and grab a spiralizer. One popular option is zucchini, but you can also use carrots or even the stalk of broccoli. Then, cook them in a pan and top with your favorite sauce and maybe some chicken meatballs.
You can also try substituting regular noodles for spaghetti squash. Since it looks almost identical to regular noodles, it’s possible you might not even miss eating the real thing. Plus, they provide another layer of flavor to your meal that you’re sure to love.