junk food swaps

We swear the team at Chalkboard Mag can read our minds. They break down the idea of healthy living into super tangible, oh-so-practical ways; it’s hard not to take their advice. We’re particularly loving this round-up of simple solutions for some of those No-Nos we know we should avoid…but don’t always want to. 

YOU’RE STRESSED at work; you’re going through a break up; it’s that time of the month. We all have those days where answering the call of a junk food craving just feels so right, and that’s okay! We can’t always stick to a perfect diet, but we can fill our pantries with better, less processed options.

This isn’t always an easy task. We live in a world where foods in their many forms are advertised and marketed to sway us into putting them into our carts and stomachs without questioning their ingredients. These days, the junk foods we often crave are full of hydrogenated fats, chemicals, artificial coloring and flavorings – none of which we were actually craving, thanks!

Next time a craving strikes, read our piece here on what our cravings mean, then, if you’re still jonesing for something salty, fatty, sugary or otherwise, consider swapping in one of our healthier options below. Your body will thank you…

1. POTATO CHIPS TO VEGGIE CHIPS

Most commercial potato and corn chips are full of refined oils, trans fats, sodium, not to mention high in starch and possibly GMO ingredients. Even when these foods do contain optimal ingredients, the high temperatures needed to fry them leads to the formation of carcinogenic substances and denatured oils.

If it’s the crunch and salty component that’s got you after a big bag of chips, try reaching for a bag of dehydrated vegetable or kale chips instead. Even better, make your own. Simply thinly-slice, salt and season veggies with coconut oil and sea salt, and add to the oven (not a fryer) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, until crisp. Still got the craving? Try an upgraded chip worth the indulgence. Forager chips are made from sprouted grains, juice pulp, and vegetable oils that hold up to high heat and they are simply delicious!

TRY IT HERE

2. FRENCH FRIES TO SWEET POTATO FRIES

Like potato chips, there are a few issues with this common craving. Whether it’s a steak or a vegetable, the act of frying an ingredient alone has the potential to create cancer-causing carcinogenic substances like acrylamide. Add the fact that many of these deep-fried cravings are cheaply made using oils that are highly processed and become rancid easily. Only adding to the issue, commonly used oils such as canola, soybean and corn oils are commonly made with GMO crops as well.

While this swap requires a little effort on your end, these upgraded fries are well worth the energy to prepare. Swap out white potatoes for fiber and Vitamin A rich sweet potatoes. Chop into small fry-like pieces and massage with ghee or coconut oil and sea salt. Season with curry powder, paprika or garlic powder, add to sheet pan and bake in the oven at 400 degree Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes. So good you may find ketchup completely unnecessary.

yummy fries

3. SODA TO KOMBUCHA

Soda is a hard habit to quit. Full of refined sugars, typically in the form of high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors – there is nothing of benefit in a can of soda. Overindulging in this craving can wreck havoc on the body and studies have liked its consumption to diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay and heart disease. If there is one craving you should break, this is the one.

While there are so many quasi-natural choices to try, containing unrefined sweeteners or “natural” flavorings, there is one that even contains health benefits, kombucha. Its effervescents is caused by naturally occurring cultures of yeast and bacteria which may improve and regulate digestion, strengthen immunity and even help to balance blood sugar. Endless varieties from fruit and spice infusions, even mimicking traditional soda flavors, makes kombucha an easy swap and fix for that sweet fizzy treat. 

We love adding Pressed Juicery’s coconut milk to our kombucha for a special float-like and cream soda-flavored treat! 

4. CHOCOLATE CANDY TO UPGRADED CHOCOLATE

In our eyes, sugar regardless of the source is still sugar. Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t indulge, we just do it wisely. The biggest culprits to avoid in these processed treats are highly-processed sugars like corn-syrup and white table sugar as well as artificial colorings, preservatives and hydrogenated oils. When it comes to chocolate, be sure to source fair-trade and raw for the most benefit to your health.

There are so many high-quality, upgraded versions of our classic candy favorites we guarantee you won’t taste the difference. Whether they are raw, organic, or swap out refined sugars for healthier choices, we’ve rounded up our favorite chocolates, here.

5. MICROWAVE POPCORN TO UPGRADED POPCORN

If any of you are still eating microwavable popcorn, listen up! Almost all instant microwave popcorn bags are lined with the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a known carcinogen and the same stuff found in teflon pans. It’s been linked to infertility, cancer and a number of other harmful issues. The bag isn’t the only issue, however. This low cal snack is often laden with GMO corn and hydrogenated oils, artificial flavorings and preservatives, making it a pretty unhealthy choice in our book.

Our healthy swap doesn’t ditch the corn, just the microwave, but make sure to source GMO-free kernels as well. Make popcorn on the stovetop in a 3 quart saucepan with a fitting lid. Add 3 Tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee on medium head. Once warmed, add 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels. Cover pan and allow to pop for about 30-40 seconds, until time between pops significantly slows. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Add an additional dollop of butter or ghee, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, some sea salt and spirulina, and all of a sudden you have a superfood snack with all the flavor or the original classic.

Almost all instant microwave popcorn bags are lined with the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a known carcinogen and the same stuff found in teflon pans.

6. GRAIN PASTA TO BEAN PASTA

Most refined pasta noodle choices don’t contain much nutrition. Like white bread, these flours are highly refined, containing little else than processed starches and calories that spike blood sugar and leave you wanting more. A big bowl of pasta may hit the spot, but it’s likely you’ll be craving another bowl soon after.

Luckily, there has been a Renaissance of pasta noodle options. From kelp noodles to whole grain varieties and most recently, bean noodles. These noodles are made from a variety of beans, water, and nothing else. Loaded with protein and fiber and much lower in carbohydrates than their counterparts, these noodles make it easy to upgrade a traditional pasta bowl.

TRY IT HERE

7. SPORTS DRINKS TO RAW COCONUT WATER

Sports drinks have long been marketed as the best option to replenish fluids and lost electrolytes after exercising. In addition to electrolytes (which you can also get from high quality mineral water), sports drinks often contain as much sugar as sodas (in the form of high-fructose corn syrup), food coloring and artificial flavors. While many believe high sugar to simply be burned quickly while exercising, these sugars are processed very differently, causing sugar to spike and plummet and stress the pancreas and kidneys.

Raw coconut water is a wonderful and sweet alternative. It is one of the highest natural sources of electrolytes know to man. In an emergency, it has even been used intravenously in place of a saline drip. Like many health crazes, however, quality control can be an issue. It is important to purchase raw, unprocessed coconut water vs. pasteurized shelf-stable versions. These beverages contain a fraction of the health benefits and all of the sugar, making them only hairs better the sugary drinks we are trying to avoid.

8. FRO-YO TO GREEN JUICE SOFT SERVE

We’ve long envisioned frozen yogurt as the perfect low calorie, low fat snack. In truth our beloved, guiltless treat is anything but. Loaded with artificial flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, fructose corn-syrup and artificial sugars, it’s anything but healthy.

We’re so excited that healthy soft-serve alternatives are popping up East and West. The latest PJ creation, Pressed Juicery Freeze satisfies our cold sweet-tooth cravings without any of the guilt – we may even get some greens into our cup. Raw and dairy free, made from a base of nut milk and dates and flavored with fresh fruit and veggie juices, this is one craze we can get behind, regularly.

What else are we loving from the Chalkboard currently? This recipe for healthy homemade waffle cones, our new favorite spaghetti squash dish, and this idea for staying hydrated in the heat!

Images via Marlena Steiner

4 comments

  1. For the soda thing- I cannot stand kombucha (I literally gag when drinking it), so what I did to break my soda habit was a two-step thing. I went to the San Pelligrino fruity drinks, which still have a bit of calories and stuff, but then after a couple of weeks drinking those, I went to sparkling water. It REALLY helped me kick my soda habit.

  2. Lettuce wrap the hamburger instead of using the bun. Hardee’s, Red Robin and many local restaurants will give you this option. Works great, a bit messy but equally good

  3. I like this list a lot. For years now, I’ve been interested in healthy eating. and cook at home 90% of the time because it’s healthier. I’ve always made my own fries with regular potatoes, but sliced myself and drizzled with olive oil and then baked in the oven. Are the sweet potato ones even healthier just on virtue of them being sweet potatoes? I always thought they were nutritionally similar and that the issue was the potato being deep-fried. Is that wrong?

  4. I must say, the shake shack photo, made me crave junk food when I wasn’t before seeing it. Will be trying the recipe of making veggie chips at home! The recipe is so do-able!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*