We all have our weaknesses. For some, it’s a pint of Half Baked. For others, it’s chocolate. For me, it’s anything salty and/or cheesy. Preferably both.
No matter what your craving may be, you’ve seen the tips and tricks to keep yourself from binging on junk food. You’ve seen the “healthier” brands lining grocery store aisles. You’ve seen detailed explanations for why we crave what we crave.
I say it’s completely possible to satisfy your less-healthy desires and, in fact, have a healthier diet and healthier eating habits at the same time. You just have to know what substitutes to use – the foods and drinks that will curb your cravings. Lucky for you, we at Spoon have got you covered:
1. If you’re craving pasta…
…Try edamame spaghetti
Like regular spaghetti, only greener. And healthier.
There are exactly two ingredients in edamame spaghetti: organic edamame and water. Yeah.
One serving of edamame spaghetti clocks in at 24 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 30 percent of your daily iron and 11 percent of your daily Vitamin C. Oh, and Costco sells it. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
Edamame spaghetti also suits your every dietary need: it is gluten-free, organic, vegan and kosher (parve, of course).
This spaghetti pairs especially well with pesto (try making your own). Sayonara, empty carbs.
2. If you’re craving ice cream…
…Try a chia seed yogurt breakfast bowl
What you really want when you want ice cream is something cold, creamy and sweet. Downing an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s can be all too easy, especially if you live in a dorm and own a mini fridge that lacks a freezer. You just HAVE to eat the whole pint. It’ll melt otherwise, right?
Wrong. Get your sugar and dairy craving fix with a protein and fiber-packed breakfast bowl (at any time of day, of course).
Chia seeds aren’t called a superfood for nothing; they are loaded with nutrition: protein, fiber, healthy fats, calcium, you name it. That’s why making a yogurt or pudding out of them is pretty much the best thing you can do for yourself.
After you’ve made the yogurt, top it with your favorite berries for an extra punch of fiber and sweetness. Using frozen fruit, along with shredded coconut and honey, can help you pretend this is the ice cream sundae that you really wanted. Add pecans or walnuts to up the protein factor even more.
3. If you’re craving pretzels…
…Try kale chips
Coming from someone who eats the salt at the bottom of chip and pretzel bags, kale chips will satisfy. Store-bought ones are definitely tasty, but I much prefer kale chips to be homemade.
Sprinkle the pieces of kale with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and throw them in the oven at 350°F until cooked to your crispiness preference. So simple, yet so darn good.
This is actually a great way to roast all vegetables, especially cauliflower, for a salty yet healthy snack. For all you aspiring chefs, here’s a slightly more complicated and time-consuming, yet equally yummy, take on roasted veggies.
4. If you’re craving pizza…
…Try it on a tortilla
I tried this once on a whim and now eat it for lunch all the time. My friends think it’s neat. Instead of polishing off an entire Domino’s extra-large pizza by yourself, make your own single-serve pizza. It’s loads faster, healthier and cheaper. I don’t know about you, but I’m broke AF.
Spoon tomato sauce and cheese onto a whole grain tortilla and add your favorite veggies (my go-to picks are baby spinach leaves, mushrooms and red pepper).
I’m again gonna advocate for sprinkling some chia seeds on top here, because, in the end, you really can’t taste them, so you’re just sneaking a superfood into your pizza. You are literally tricking yourself into eating super nutritiously.
Throw your mini ‘za into the toaster oven and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown.
5. If you’re craving something buttery…
…Try olive oil
Olive oil is one of the most underrated health foods out there. Besides being loaded with antioxidants and healthy fat, olive oil has been found to promote healthy bones, a healthy heart and even a healthy mind. It also can protect against certain types of cancer, obesity and type II diabetes.
I put olive oil in everything and tend to avoid using butter in the food I eat. Olive oil is great mixed with balsamic vinegar, pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil for a mock-Caprese salad.
But my favorite way to use olive oil is to make pan-fried grilled cheese with it. I literally fry my grilled cheese sandwiches in olive oil, instead of butter, and still get that greasy feel and taste that I’ve been craving. This is the healthy way to fry things, people.
6. If you’re craving Reese’s…
…Try a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich
Granted, this isn’t exactly the most nutritious option on the list. But it’s definitely healthier than the alternative – two Reese’s peanut butter cups contain 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 21 grams of sugar.
Toast some whole grain bread and spread one slice with some Skippy, and the other with that good ol’ hazelnut spread (try making your own, in the name of health. Or don’t). You’ll get pretty darn close to the taste of an actual Reese’s, with a lot less processed ingredients.
As always, add chia seeds, just because.
#SpoonTip: Banana slices pair well with this sandwich also.
7. If you’re craving fried rice…
…Try quinoa tabouleh
Quinoa: just another superfood we’ve heard plenty about. But the fact is, quinoa is insanely good for you – like chia seeds, quinoa is chock-full of protein, fiber, antioxidants and a whole lotta vitamins and minerals.
Instead of ordering Chinese, chow down on a homemade quinoa tabouleh salad instead. The texture is similar to fried rice, so you’ll feel like you’re eating fattening takeout while in reality eating salad. I can dig it.
Toss cooked quinoa with avocado, chickpeas, tomatoes, arugula and a basil-lemon vinaigrette. But TBH, quinoa works with any and all veggies, dressings and other toppings. Oh-so-fresh and oh-so-satisfying.
8. If you’re craving Nestlé Dibs…
…Try frozen Greek yogurt-covered fruit slices
The bite-size goodness that is Dibs can be recreated in an über-healthy way. Just freeze your favorite fruit (berries, banana slices, you name it) coated in vanilla or coconut Greek yogurt and drizzle each bite with honey.
Being able to eat ice cream in pieces is pretty awesome, but also pretty dangerous. For real, though, who is actually going to stop after eating just a few? I know I don’t.
Instead, cut your calorie, fat and cholesterol count, and take advantage of the health benefits of fruit and yogurt. Most fruit contains a ton of fiber, and yogurt, besides being a much better choice of dairy product than ice cream, provides probiotics, which aid in digestion and support your immune system.
9. If you’re craving potato salad…
…Try egg salad
Potato salad is arguably one of the best picnic staples there is, but unfortunately, this creamy, mushy dish tends to have more fat and carbs than anything else.
Never fear – a delish homemade egg salad will do the trick. Boil two eggs for 15 minutes, peel them and then mash with a fork. Mix in some honey mustard and a dash of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up salt. As a substitute for mayo, which adds unnecessary fat, sodium and cholesterol, add mashed-up avocado. Spread the salad between two slices of whole grain bread.
Warning: once you make egg salad this way, you may never use mayonnaise again. Avocado egg salad is just too darn good.
10. If you’re craving hot cocoa…
…Try a chocolate milk box
Yeah, that hot chocolate you get from Starbucks? It contains 400 calories and 43 grams of sugar. Um, no thank you.
Chocolate milk is one of the most underrated healthy beverages. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can drink post-workout. Its protein and other nutrients help repair muscle tissue. And anyway, who doesn’t want to revert to being a kid for a little?
Drink chocolate milk right out of the box, no shame at all. Chocolate milk boxes are one of my favorite snacks. A lot of people probably think I’m five years old, but I don’t really care.
Sure, it’s got some sugar, but if this is where you’re getting your sugar from, I wouldn’t be too concerned. That sugar comes with 8 grams of protein, calcium, vitamins A and D and iron if you drink Horizon’s low-fat option.
Bonus: you can leave boxed chocolate milk in the pantry for, like, months, and it won’t go bad. I have no idea how this works, but it does.
11. If you’re craving a Chipotle burrito…
…Try a homemade loaded quesadilla
OK, don’t get me wrong; Chipotle is my life, too. But a burrito from Chipotle can be over 1,000 calories. If you think I’m lying, try out their nutrition calculator with your regular order.
Chipotle isn’t getting everything wrong – beans and avocados are two foods we should all be eating more of. As a generation of avo toast Instagrammers, we are well aware of the health benefits of avocados (and who doesn’t want an excuse to eat more guac?). Beans, however, aren’t as popularly publicized for the fiber, protein and potassium they provide.
So forget your Chipotle run and make your own loaded quesadilla from the comfort of your kitchen. Don’t only use cheese – add beans, tomato, guacamole and rice for a super-filling, super-satisfying burrito alternative.
#SpoonTip: Skip the sour cream.
12. If you’re craving french fries…
…Try roasted sweet potato slices
When junk food is brightly colored, it’s not a good thing. When fruits and vegetables are brightly colored, it’s a great thing. The vivid orange of sweet potatoes means there’s a whole lotta good stuff inside.
In particular, the orange color indicates the presence of beta-carotene, the same powerful antioxidant that gives carrots their hue. This is just one of the many nutrients that sweet potatoes contain in high quantities.
Cut a sweet potato into slices or wedges, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil to taste. Roast in the oven and you’ve got a superfood substitute to a large fry from McDonald’s.
13. If you’re craving cheesy bread…
…Try quinoa pizza cakes
These babies are hella healthier and hella more satisfying than the drunchie we all know and love (as life-saving as that drunchie may be).
Basically, you mix cooked quinoa with cheese and various spices and scoop the mixture into muffin tins. Bake, top with more cheese and dip in marinara sauce. And voilà, you’ve got yourself a nutritious, filling version of the Domino’s staple.
Sorry not sorry for the quinoa obsession. It’s kind of the best thing ever. Get the full recipe here.
14. If you’re craving lemonade…
…Try watermelon juice
Although it’s so, so refreshing, lemonade tends to be filled with sugar, and not much else. Have you ever noticed that drinking lemonade makes you thirstier than you were before?
For an equally refreshing and fruity beverage, grab your blender and drink a watermelon instead. Blend watermelon cubes and ice cubes together, lie out under the sun and sip away. You get natural sweetness and cool hydration in one icy package.
15. If you’re craving potato chips…
…Try roasted chickpeas
Fun fact: chickpeas aren’t only good for hummus and falafel. In fact, they taste just as good in crunchy, Mediterranean-spiced form.
Roast chickpeas with olive oil, sea salt, paprika and onion, garlic, lemon juice and black bean powders. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, try out a store-bought version. This makes for a much better snack than greasy, nutrition-less potato chips.
Another fun fact for ya: chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, as if you didn’t need another excuse to go to Cava.
16. If you’re craving pasta salad…
…Try Israeli salad
Like potato salad, pasta salad is just another picnic food that doesn’t do much good in terms of your health. Replace all those empty carbs with veggies by bringing an Israeli salad to your 4th of July BBQ.
All there is to it is chopping up cucumber, tomato, parsley and red onion, and then combining in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. When it comes to food, Israel most definitely knows what it is doing. The bonus? You’ll still get that cold, fresh snack you wanted.
17. If you’re craving Insomnia Cookies…
…Try DIY oat muffins
After a night out, it’s kind of inevitable that you’ll end up ordering freshly baked Insomnia for you and your friends to share. But eating three or four (or five, or 10) warm, rich cookies leaves you stuffed and bloated. Save money and guard against the drunchies by preparing healthy muffins in advance.
Substitute white flour and white sugar for whole wheat flour and brown sugar, and make your own muffins the right way. Use dry oats as a base (tastes better than it sounds) and incorporate chia seeds, flaxseeds and blueberries into the muffin batter.
Your body will thank you.