Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food

Anika Bjarnadottir

What if you can satisfy your junk food cravings, while making yourself feel good about it? Now more than ever, the topic of living a healthy lifestyle is highly valued and widely talked about. Not only has healthy eating become a trend, but it has created a standard in one’s quality of life.

Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, it can get difficult to maintain self-motivation and control. Remaining or getting in shape may be hard, but small changes in your diet can make big differences… Let’s not lose hope yet! There are many options that will allow you to fulfill your cravings, while improving your health physically and mentally.

Frozen Yogurt Pops / Dole Whip instead of Ice Cream

Frozen Yogurt Pops: You may be tempted to turn to ice cream if you have a big sweet tooth. But, most are high in calories and sugar. A healthy alternative could be homemade frozen yogurt pops. You can make these at home with just some fruits, honey, vanilla extract, fresh lemon, and Greek yogurt. The recipe linked in the text uses strawberries, but other fruits work too. I would definitely recommend frozen fruits, as they are a fun and cold treat with lots of sweetness.

Homemade Dole Whip: Another option (which I love) is a healthy, homemade Dole Whip. If you have been to Disney, you might be familiar with this popular pineapple ice cream whip. There are many ways to replicate this Disney recipe, but this one is extra healthy, and tastes just as good. The ingredients only consist of 1 banana, 2 cups of frozen pineapple chunks, and 2-4 tablespoons of coconut milk (or your preferred dairy-free milk). There are other ingredients you can add to your choice to enhance the desert to your favor. If you stick to this recipe, you can enjoy a very healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan frozen treat. All you do is blend these ingredients together using a food processor or blender, and it’s ready to be eaten!

Frozen Fruit instead of Popsicles

Frozen Fruits: Many people like popsicles because they are sweet and fruity. But, instead you can try a popular “hack” and indulge in frozen fruit. An easy and fun one is frozen grapes. All you do is pull apart the grapes from the stem, put them in a ziplock bag/bowl, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours, and they’re ready to eat! You can use any kind of grape, but personally, the green ones are my favorite! This is the easiest treat you can prepare, so I would definitely give it a try!

Frozen Banana Pop: Another option is to put a stick through a peeled banana, dip it in dark chocolate, and freeze it. The outcome would be an ice cream-looking banana pop! In the end, most fruits would work, as long as they’re put in the freezer prepared to eat.

Bunless Burgers instead of Traditional Burgers

If you’re obsessed with burgers like I am, it would be difficult to give that up. But rather than getting a traditional burger, you can swap that out with a bunless burger to cut some of the carbs and calories. If you are from Texas or California, you may know that In-N-Out has a “Not So Secret Menu” item called the “protein style” burger. They will replace the buns with lettuce, which is a healthier option! More specifically, it would reduce the amount of carbohydrate intake, while adding some vitamins and potassium to the meal.

Baked Veggies instead of French Fries

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries: French fries are among some of the most popular foods in America. They are served at most fast food restaurants and many others as well. Unfortunately, they can be fattening, as they are normally fried in a lot of oil. Instead, you can bake some tasty, yet healthy baked sweet potato fries. All you need to do is cut up a sweet potato, seasoning, and a little bit of olive oil. After putting it in the oven, it should come out crisp on the outside, and delicious overall!

Oven-roasted Asparagus: Another alternative can be oven-roasted asparagus. Asparagus are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and more. In addition, they have a low amount of calories. Although they may not taste quite like french fries, they are similar in their long and fun shape. With added seasoning and other ingredients, you can enjoy a rich and delicious snack/side.

Nuts instead of Potato Chips

Potato chips can be a tempting snack, but they can be very fattening. Instead, try eating nuts to fulfill your cravings. Nuts have great nutritional value with lots of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They also reduce your chances of developing some chronic diseases, including high blood pressure. If you are craving that saltiness, the lightly salted versions are a good choice. Some popular products you can try are: Blue Diamond Almonds: Lightly Salted, Wonderful Pistachios, and Planters Deluxe Whole Cashews.

Dark Chocolate instead of Milk/White Chocolate

Sometimes, chocolate is just unavoidable and there is no other snack that can substitute it. Instead of going towards milk and white chocolate, I definitely recommend dark chocolate. Dark chocolate actually has many health benefits. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate (about 2 squares a day) reduces cravings and suppresses your appetite. Also it has benefits involving your circulation, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Because of this, it helps you maintain a healthy heart, reducing risk for heart disease and stroke. In fact, dark chocolate can also reduce inflammation because of its richness in antioxidants. Some popular products include: Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate EXCELLENCE Bar, Lily’s Sweets Extra Dark Chocolate Bar, and Hu Salty 70% Dark Chocolate Bar. Along with other great benefits in eating a little bit of dark chocolate, I definitely think this is a dessert that we should all indulge in (in moderation)!