We all want to indulge in tasty treats now and then; but if you’re avoiding all those typical treats – chips, milkshakes, candy, cookies, cakes, and so forth – where do you turn? Are there still sweet and delicious foods that are healthy but still qualify as treats?
The answer lies, in part, in the utilization of substitutes. Fried and/or sugary foods may be off-limit, but you can substitute moderate amounts of healthy fats and oven-baking for the fried foods, and natural sugars and sweeteners instead of white sugar. Here are some suggestions.
1. Break Out the Blender
Craving milkshakes and ice cream is common among those trying to watch their weight. Your blender can help you overcome these cravings – smoothies, slushies, and other cold treats can help beat the ice cream craving. Start with 10 ice cubes or so, and blend at high speed with one of these combinations of ingredients:
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup vanilla almond milk
* 1 cup lemonade or fruit juice of your choice
* 1 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup unsweetened, natural orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon stevia extract (or to taste)
* Juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime, and 1 grapefruit; 1/2 teaspoon stevia extract (or to taste)
A really good, fat-free, low-calorie cookie is hard to come by, but meringue cookies can help get you there. Meringues are easy to make – beat 3 egg whites until frothy; add a generous pinch of salt, and beat until stiff; then gradually add 1/3 cup of evaporated cane juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Dollop the mixture onto parchment paper-covered cookie trays and place in a 350-degree oven; turn oven off and leave 8 hours or overnight.
3. Oven-baked “Fries”
The crunchy saltiness of French fries and potato chips is almost irresistible. Instead of fried potatoes, why not try oven-baking them? Simply cut peeled potatoes into fry-sized strips or sticks and toss them in a little oil, about 1 teaspoon per potato (make sure it’s a healthy oil such as safflower or olive). Stir in seasonings of your choice (such as salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, etc.) and bake at 425 for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Banana Muffins
Craving cake or rich banana bread? Try these muffins for a healthier alternative.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together into a bowl:
* 1 cup of white whole wheat flour (or 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup white)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 (heaping) teaspoon salt
In another bowl, whisk together:
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons safflower oil
* 2 tablespoons plain, low-fat yogurt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
* 2 small bananas, mashed
* 2 tablespoons low-fat mini chocolate chips (optional)
Combine all the ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes.