This post is sponsored by Boulder Canyon in collaboration with Blog Meets Brand.
While I love eating healthy and enjoying everything from superfood smoothies to protein power bowls, I also like to occasionally indulge in what most of us would consider “junk food”. This could be anything from frappuccinos with the works, to sugary churros, and especially those addicting Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (thank goodness they only sell them a couple of times a year!). The trick is to not indulge everyday. Instead, I try to maintain a consistent, healthy diet as best as I can, while allowing myself to enjoy those treats guilt-free a few times a week.
Of course, another option (if you’re able to part with your favorites) is to swap out junk foods with better-for-you alternatives. There are a ton out there that can satisfy your cravings and treat your body better by eliminating a lot of those sugars, fats, and carbs. Some can be found at your local grocery store, while others can be whipped up at home using just a few ingredients! And you’d be surprised just how tasty these options are! Here are five of my favorite substitutes…
Swap soda for naturally-infused seltzers.
Sodas can be refreshingly sweet and fizzy, but they’re loaded with sugars like high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame. A great alternative? Flavored seltzer waters. They’re equally as refreshing and give you that sweetness you’re looking for, but they’re much lighter on the calories and sugars.
Alternatively, you can make your own sodas at home using a carbonation system. (I recently just bought one and I love it! It’s a fun way to ‘spruce up’ your water with some fizz. Plus, I find it satisfies my cravings for something carbonated.)
Then, instead of buying those sugary flavored syrups, infuse it with some fresh fruit to add a little natural flavoring. My favorites are raspberries and lemon slices – you’d be surprised how much sweetness they add just on their own!
Swap French fries for baked sweet potato fries.
Fries can be a tempting side dish to a juicy burger, but between the trans fats and starchy white potatoes, they aren’t the healthiest. Fortunately, the best swap for this can be found on most restaurant menus these days, and that’s sweet potato fries!
Sweet potatoes are super healthy – they’re rich in fiber, along with vitamins A, B6 and C, and they still satisfy those cravings for something crispy and salty. Not to mention, this swap cuts out roughly 20 grams of carbohydrates per 1-cup serving. (But don’t write off white potatoes completely – they still offer some great health benefits!)
To make these fries at home, start by slicing sweet potatoes, then drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and then bake at 425°F until lightly browned (about 20-30 minutes). My boyfriend and I made these just the other week and believe me, they didn’t last long!
Swap salty, fatty chips for cleaner, more natural recipes.
Most chips you’ll find in stores are high in trans fat, calories, sugar, and sodium. For a better-for-you snack (without having to go the veggie route), opt for cleaner chip recipes. Look for ones that have a minimal ingredient list with names you can recognize.
One of my favorite brands when it comes to clean, all-natural chips is Boulder Canyon. Their recipes use as little as 3-4 ingredients, which start with good ol’ American-grown potatoes and premium oils like sunflower, safflower, olive, and avocado. For example, “Potatoes, Avocado Oil, Sea Salt,” are all you’ll find on the label of their Avocado Oil Canyon Cut chips. And their Coconut Oil Chips are made with potatoes, coconut oil and sea salt – that’s it! Their chips are also trans fats and cholesterol-free, and a majority are low in sodium (thanks to the sea salt), gluten-free, and non-gmo.
And the best part is, you’re not sacrificing anything when it comes to taste. In fact, these are some of the best potato chips I’ve tried in a long time – from their Sweet Chipotle chips made with rice bran oil, to their Sweet Vinegar chips made with olive oil (my personal favorite!). And because they’re kettle-cooked, they pack a ton of texture and crunch. If you love potato chips as much I do, but are looking for a better-for-you alternative, I highly recommend trying out Boulder Canyon’s!
Alternatively, you can make your own chips at home! Start by very thinly slicing potatoes, then toss them with a bit of olive oil and salt. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F until golden brown (about 12-15 minutes). Add more salt and seasonings to taste, and voilà! You’ll get crispy, crunchy homemade potato chips with 8 grams less fat per serving than regular chips.
Swap ice cream for homemade banana ice cream.
Instead of buying store-bought ice cream, which is typically loaded with fats and sugars, try making your own at home using one natural ingredient: bananas! There’s no need to add milk, cream, or sugar – the bananas should reach a smooth, soft-serve consistency all on their own with a little blending.
Here’s how to make it: Cut 2-3 overripe bananas into small chunks and freeze until solid (~2-3 hours). Add to blender, along with a pinch of salt. Keep blending until you achieve a soft-serve texture, then serve immediately! (If your mixture is a bit too thick and/or if you’re having trouble blending, add 2-4 tablespoons of milk to thin it out a bit.)
If you want to dress up your ice cream a bit more, you can experiment by adding different fruits, nut butters, superfood powders, and more. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Chocolate Banana: Add 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder + 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract.
- Peanut Butter: Add 2-3 tbsp peanut butter.
- Berry: Add 1 cup of frozen berries + 1/8 tsp of pure vanilla extract.
- Vanilla Bean: Add 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste.
Swap candy for homemade trail mix.
Instead of grabbing a pack of sugary candy the next time you hit the movies, opt for trail mix instead. It will feed your body with high-quality carbs and fats while also satisfying your sweet tooth. But be careful with store-bought ones – they tend to pack quite a bit of salt, on top of all that sugary, candy-coated chocolate. It’s much healthier to go the homemade route, and it takes literally seconds to put together if you have all the ingredients handy!
Simply grab a bowl (or a plastic baggie for on-the-go) and combine unsalted nuts with dark chocolate bits, or better yet, cacao nibs. These are great low salt and sugar options, plus the dark chocolate/cacao is especially high in antioxidants. Top it off with some dried fruit (like raisins, or – my favorite – pomegranate arils) for some natural sweetness, healthy fiber, and an extra dose of antioxidants!
What are some of your favorite better-for-you junk food swaps?