Whether you’ve got a salty craving or sweet tooth, it’s hard to say no to a not-so-healthy indulgence now and then (or every day). It’s biological, actually; we’re hardwired to crave high-calorie foods to prepare our bodies for times of scarcity since, thousands of years ago, hunters and gatherers didn’t always know when their next meals would be coming.
In this day and age, however, it’s nearly impossible to avoid overloading on everything from salty chips to gargantuan prepackaged cookies. But there are a million ways to satisfy your cravings in a healthy and nourishing way. If you keep an open mind and do some research, you’ll find endless recipes and techniques to keep yourself happy and well fed. Here are a few tried-and-true suggestions.
Kale Chips, the most disgusting-sounding (and surprisingly delicious) of the lot. This leafy green is a health food darling, packed with vitamin A, iron and tons of cancer-fighting antioxidants. The problem is, we humans aren’t generally too excited about vegetables, especially bitter greens, and would prefer to dive into a plate of raw butter before we even touched the stuff. But we are so missing out!
To make your own kale chips, wash the kale, pull out the tough ribs and tear it into small pieces. Arrange it on a baking sheet, drizzle with good olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven until they’re crisp like potato chips. Delicious, simple and oh, so good for you.
Whole Wheat Flour. Whole wheat anything (bread, pasta, baked goods, etc.) is an incredible step up from the refined white flour that most of use are used to. Refining wheat and other carbohydrates takes the nutrients out of the grain, resulting in fine white flour that tastes good but spikes blood sugar, is high in calories and offers no nutrients whatsoever.
You can make a huge change to your diet and waistline by trading in white products for good, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, polenta, barley, quinoa (an incredible cous-cous-like seed that’s packed with protein — perfect for vegetarians) and whole wheat pastry flour. If you’re afraid to substitute half of your baking flour with whole wheat flour (dividing the flour this way usually doesn’t change the baking process), just look online for some fabulous whole wheat flour recipes. You can have your cake and look good, too.
No-Fry Fries. The easiest way to enjoy these beloved American carbs sans guilt? Bake ‘em! You really don’t need a deep fryer to get amazing French fries – just cut up some potatoes into thick matchsticks and follow the method for the kale chips, but make the potatoes soft and roasted instead of crispy (or slice them into thin rounds to make baked potato chips).
Want something even better? Sweet potato fries may actually be the best thing since sliced bread (or French fries…). In fact, they’re better. They have the richest taste, are full of vitamins and antioxidants (bright or deep colors are generally a sign of these cancer-fighting agents) and go above and beyond as the tastiest and most inspired fries you’ll ever try.
The best way to make unhealthy food healthy is to get creative. Try new things, and see what works best for you. The web is an unparalleled resource for finding excellent recipes that you’ll want to make over and over again. Get as close to nature as possible by incorporating real fruit, vegetables and whole grains into your comfort food of choice. You’ll find that the healthy version is often more flavorful than the original!