I am a bonafide sugar fiend. I even dubbed myself a “cupcake therapist” at one point. There is not a single point of the day that I am not craving a cookie. But if I indulged all of those cravings, I’d be the size of a barge.
When I want a treat, generally, I try to eat a healthy version of that treat unless it is a special occasion. I’ve found that if I want something sweet, usually that craving can be satisfied by a healthy option. I really don’t need a Slurpee just because I want an icy-sweet treat and I really don’t need a brownie to feel complete. I’ve pulled together some of my favorite healthy alternatives because some of the tricks out there just don’t work. (You will NEVER convince me that a black bean brownie is delicious…)
Swap a red Slurpee for a watermelon smoothie
This is my latest trick. I buy pre-cut fruit from the store and watermelon is a staple in my kitchen. If you add equal amounts of watermelon and frozen strawberries (about 1 cup each) with a splash of lemon or lime juice and a bit of fresh ginger, you have a winning cold treat that might just taste better than the bright red flavored sugar syrup.
Swap ice cream for “nice cream”
This swap isn’t as convincing. But, it is delicious and satisfying. So satisfying that Oprah put a machine to make it on her favorite things list last year. If you freeze bananas and then blend them you get something that is about the consistency of soft serve. If you freeze that blended banana, you get a frozen treat that is more like ice cream. It still tastes like bananas, so if you add in some dark chocolate chips and walnuts, it’s a healthy version of Chunky Monkey (which happens to be my favorite ice cream).
You can add in some other frozen fruit to change up the flavors and top with your favorite nuts and fresh fruit for a tasty dessert.
Swap cookie dough for energy balls
There is nothing better than raw cookie dough. It might even be better than the baked cookies. These days, I’ve been whipping up batches of energy balls or energy bites to keep myself satisfied and to stave off hunger pangs. The easiest ones involve just oats, nut butter, a liquid sweetener and whatever mix-ins you desire. Lately, I’ve been doing an oat, peanut butter, vegan “honey” and chocolate chips as a mixture.
Some go the extra mile and add dates and coconut (similar to middle eastern date rolls you can pick up at the grocery store) or apricots and almonds to keep it extra healthy. You can go this route, or just add some chia or flax to your treat bites and use them for what they are meant for: an energy burst and sweet craving satisfied.
Swap mousse or pudding for chia “pudding”
Chocolate mousse is decadent and fancy, but I love a good, simple pudding. Tapioca pudding. Rice pudding. Chocolate pudding. This swap is easy. Some milk (dairy or nut), some chia seeds. Maybe some cocoa or blended fruit. Top it with nuts or fruit or even a smoothie for a perfectly decadent but totally healthy dessert. Or breakfast. This is a no judgment zone.
If you like the texture of tapioca pudding, you’ll love chia pudding. If you don’t, you can always blend the finished product for a smoother texture.
There are plenty of healthy swaps you can make each day. What are your favorite (non-black bean brownie) healthy swaps?
Mary Fran Wiley is a well known gluten-free and positive living blogger from Chicago where she writes Curiouser and Curiouser, maintains the Chronic Positivity Project, and has been featured in Allergic Living Magazine, Care2.com and Today.com.