10 Healthy “Junk” Foods
At least for me, quarantine has been like going through a weird and complicated breakup with everyone I know. I’m sad because I can’t see them, and if I do, we have to stand 6 feet apart and figure out whether to wave, or blow a kiss, or try an awkward air hug motion.
What even is that? So like many others feeling this struggle, I have been doing a lot of emotional eating. Binge eating any food isn’t good for you, no matter how healthy the food might be, but sometimes it has to happen.
The key to getting over a late night snack session and still feeling good the next day is all about substitution. There are tons of great snacks that can fill those cravings without overwhelming your system. Here are my top ten favorites.
If you have an incurable sweet tooth, or are restricting sugar while still craving something sweet and comforting, dessert tea is perfect to add to your after dinner routine. Dessert teas are available in a wide variety of flavors and caffeine contents.
My personal favorites are bakery influenced flavors, like warm cinnamon snickerdoodle cookie, and sweet almond macaron, both are herbal and contain no caffeine.
If you can tolerate a small amount of caffeine, there are decadent chocolate teas on the market that will excite the senses with sweet aromas and rich flavors frequently derived from real cocoa nibs.
Frozen fruits are fun foods to munch on and are packed full of all those vitamins that will make you feel a little better in the morning.
Try freezing designer grapes, like the cotton candy variety, for an extra sweet treat. Freeze blueberries for a great snack or buy them out of the freezer aisle to eat right from the bag.
Eat frozen berries on their own, or add them to kefir for a smoothie-like treat that adds important probiotics to your snacking.
Fresh and Diet Microwave Dinners
If snacking just isn’t doing it, you might need a comfort meal. But if you don’t want the belly bloat tomorrow, try one of the many new elevated tv dinners available.
Lucky for us, companies have listened to the cry for fresh, minimally processed ingredients and responded with a huge selection of easy meals you can feel good about eating.
Look for fresh frozen meals that are diet friendly. Averaging around 350 calories per dinner you can substitute a whole thanksgiving meal for that candy bar under your bed.
Unbelievably good for you, edamame is a low fat, low cholesterol, and high protein snack.
If that isn’t enough this little magic bean is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Buy them fresh or frozen and prepare them as a meal or roast them for a power snack.
To roast use olive oil, salt and pepper to bake a batch at 375F for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. When the beans begin puffing and turning a golden-brown, they are ready!
Ants on a Log
Go back to your childhood snacktime with the perennial favorite, ants on a log, or simply, peanut butter spread on celery and then covered with raisins.
Celery is full of water and fiber, making you stay full longer with less calories. Add a small strip of peanut butter, or nut butter of choice, to your celery sticks in order to add a little protein and boost of healthy fats.
Finish the log off with a small amount of raisins for an added flavor note, plus a shot of iron and other essential nutrients!
Chickpeas are my favorite versatile snack. These legumes are packed full of fiber, protein, and other nutrients we don’t hear much of like manganese. Combine chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and the seasonings of your choice, commonly salt and garlic, to make hummus! Or roast the chickpeas with your favorite seasonings for a crunchy snack that is perfect for a TV binge.
Linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, you can’t go wrong with this light and healthy snack. Air pop your own corn for ultimate control of flavor and calories. If you prefer microwave bags, look for plain popcorn and add your own seasoning mix.
Many companies load their popcorn with salt and other ingredients that can make you bloat, so if you have concerns about salt intake/bloat make sure you check ingredients and consider creating your own popcorn flavor on plain popcorn. It is fun too! If you have children or grandchildren, have a popcorn flavoring contest for healthy enriching fun!
I will be honest, I was skeptical when my fiance made us kale chips to snack on one date night last summer. But, for all the world to see, he was right, they really are fantastic. Just cut kale into chip size pieces and coat with olive oil then seasonings of your choice.
We like to use curry, cumin, garlic, turmeric, and salt! Bake at 275F, flipping leaves once, until crisp, or approximately 20 minutes.
When you are craving potato chips, take the time to make these instead, the warm out-of-the-oven crisp is so satisfyingly worth it. It doesn’t get better for the healthy snacker than these guilt-free chips.
Each time I read an article that reaffirms that dark chocolate is good for you, I get incredibly giddy. Sometimes nothing will do but rich, melt in your mouth, deliciously decadent, chocolate.
Amazingly, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and minerals, and has been linked to decreased inflammation and insulin resistance, as well as increased brain function.
At 70-85% cocoa content a 100 gram serving of dark chocolate contains over 50% of your recommended daily intake for iron, magnesium, and copper, plus almost 100% of your RDI for manganese. So go ahead and get that bar next time you are at the grocery store, it is good for you!
Light Ice Cream
Light ice cream is the ultimate binge food. Many varieties average around 350 calories a pint, so you can stay snuggled in bed while finishing the entire container rather than having to get your feet cold reluctantly returning remains to the freezer.
Look for light ice creams that have skim milk or coconut milk as the main ingredient and have the calorie content for the pint clearly listed. Seasonal flavors pop up occasionally so if you can’t find your perfect match now, it might be coming soon.