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Craving Junk Food? Try These 5 Delicious Swaps

Sometimes a craving for junk food just hits. Rather than give in to temptation, what if you could reach for a healthier yet still tasty option?

These five junk food swaps will fool your taste buds into thinking you're indulging in high-calorie stuff but won't derail your healthy eating plan. Check them out below:

Junk Food Craving: Potato Chips

The craving for something crunchy and salty is a feeling we’ve all experienced. When the hankering hits hard, it may seem like you can easily down an entire family-sized bag of chips in one sitting, but resist the temptation — you could easily take in more than an entire day’s worth of calories! As we become more conscious of what we put into our bodies, we seem to be shunning potato chips and reaching for chips made from, well, anything else. However, be careful — apple chips, kale chips, beet chips, etc. may contain just as many — if not more — calories and fat than regular potato chips.

Have This Instead: Bean or Lentil Chips

Legume-based chips, such as bean chips or lentil chips, contain significantly more fiber and protein than potato chips but have fewer calories. In fact, one serving of Beanitos brand bean chips, which contains whole beans instead of bean flour, has 5 grams of filling fiber and 4 grams of hunger-squashing protein.

Junk Food Craving: Ice Cream

Nothing says summer like a bowl of sweet, creamy, cold ice cream, but it won’t do your summer body any favors. It’s loaded with fat and sugar. Another big problem with ice cream? The serving size — it’s unrealistically small! Most containers of ice cream list the serving size as 1/2 cup. Who actually eats this small of a serving? Most people end up scooping out 3-4 times that amount, and if you get ice cream out, you may end up with an even larger portion.

Have This Instead: Frozen Banana “Ice Cream”

This ice cream sub could not be easier. Plus, it’s delicious and actually good for you! Simply slice up a couple bananas, freeze them, and then combine them with 2 tablespoons of unsweetened almond or cashew milk, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar or 1 packet of stevia (optional) in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and enjoy (makes 2 servings).

Junk Food Craving: French Fries

It is hard to imagine a world without French fries. If that world existed, I wouldn’t want to live in it. But a medium serving of French fries contains a whopping 370 calories and 19 grams of fat.

Have This Instead: Air-Fried French Fries

An airfryer (a counter-top contraption) can crank out healthier “fried” versions of many foods with little to no oil, thus, making it lower in fat and calories, but with the taste and texture of the deep-fried stuff. Air-fryers promise to cook your food perfectly, making it crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside, just like traditional deep-frying does, but with 75 percent less fat. It uses a grill element and incredibly hot air which circulates around the food to “fry” it. This kitchen gadget is a little expensive, but definitely worth it if you love fries but are trying to eat healthily. I recently bought one — it’s amazing!

Junk Food Craving: Pizza

Ahhh, pizza. Did a more perfect food ever exist? I think not! Pizza is unbelievably delicious. In fact, I’d venture to say that even bad pizza is still pretty good. But generally speaking, pizza is a calorie and fat bomb. The starchy crust, the copious amounts of gooey, melty cheese, the high-fat meats — it all adds up pretty quickly.

Have This Instead: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Enjoy all the scrumptious flavor of pizza for a fraction of the calories by using a cauliflower crust instead of the typical refined-grain crust. Making cauliflower pizza crust from scratch can be somewhat tedious — it requires multiple ingredients and several steps. You can find many recipes online. If you’d rather buy it premade, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen cauliflower crust, which can simplify your chaotic workweek by allowing you to throw together a simple, delicious, healthy meal in a flash. Each box of Trader Joe’s cauliflower crust contains six servings and each serving has only 80 calories — wow! Slash even more calories by topping it with tons of veggies and reduced-fat cheese.

Junk Food Craving: Cheeseburger

An all-American classic: the glorious cheeseburger. But what’s not glorious is the fat and calorie count. Luckily, there is a healthy alternative that is just as delicious — if not more so — than this American masterpiece.

Have This Instead: Turkey-Mushroom Burger


8 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 Tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Whole-wheat hamburger buns


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, add breadcrumbs and let cool completely 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Add ground turkey, egg, dill, mustard, salt and pepper to the mushroom mixture; mix well. With dampened hands, form the mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties, using about 1/2 cup for each.

3. Coat skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, place patties on a skillet. Cook until thermometer inserted in center of patty reads 165° F.

4. Toast buns lightly when burgers are finished and serve.

1 patty with bun: 193 calories, 10 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber

[Image via Shutterstock]

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