Only in America do we have something called Junk Food Day. Yes, it has an unofficial day for all of the food bloggers and magazines out there. In my dream, junk food DAY would be fine. While I don't think it's good to eat junk, 1 day wouldn't kill you to splurge. However, as Americans, it's not one day, it's every day. Chips, cookies, cakes, dips-all present I'm sure at the last party you attended or lurking in your cupboard. Only 1 in 10 Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits/vegetables (here's the recent article on National Institute of Health)! Only 13% consume 1 1/2-2 cups of fruit a day! We all want a treat every now and then, but how about you make it a whole food treat? You can nourish the body while giving into your natural cravings for sugar and fat. How do you do that? Natural fats like avocado and nuts provide the mouth feel we all crave when we want something luxurious. Oddly, tofu can stand in for that creamy texture too while being much lower in fat than nuts and avocados. You can use tofu as the base for a cream pie instead of the cream!
Other swap-outs: sugar. Our bodies do naturally crave sugar. It's a survival mechanism. However, it is also an addictive food. The more you eat, the more you need to maintain that level of sweet taste. Our society puts sugar in almost every packaged food. Yes, even your chips probably have sugar added! As our country produced more and more corn at low prices, farmers needed to find a way to use up the excess. Enter, high fructose corn syrup. This syrupy substance is added to most packaged foods. The more you start to eat whole, the more you will move away from your intake of added refined sugars. Your tastes and cravings will change. Things that didn't taste overly sweet to you before, will now taste extra sweet. A great whole food sweetener are dates. You can soak them and place them into a blender. Add a little water, just enough to blend, and you've made your own sweet date paste that can be added whenever sugar is called for in a recipe. Dates are high in fiber, and while they are sweet, they are lower glycemic due to their fiber content. They more slowly release sugar into the blood stream, preventing blood sugar spikes.
Easy swap outs for common junk:
Chips: make your own toasted whole wheat pita chips by cutting pita in to slices and toasting (no oil required). To flavor, you could drizzle with a little flavored vinegar and sprinkle with fresh herbs after toasting. Another alternative is to dehydrate kale massaged with a puree of cashews and nutritional yeast to provide a cheesy chip. Or dehydrate thin slices of zucchini, sweet potatoes, and beets for other veggie chips.
Soda: Make your own flavored waters to give yourself the flavor without the added sugars and dyes. Try these combos: pureed watermelon added to water with a few sprigs of fresh mint, smash some berries or cherries in the bottom of some sparkling (unflavored) water, puree cantaloupe and a sprig of basil and add to sparkling water, or simply add some fresh citrus and cucumber to your water.
Dips: make whole food dips like hummus, baba ganoush (eggplant), or creamy dips using tofu as the base instead of sour cream. Here's my chipotle hummus recipe.
Desserts/snacks: lots of options here! Below are some of my favorite do-ahead recipes. I love things I can keep in the freezer and take out when I have company.
- Craisinut Granola Bars: For the kiddos instead of those pre-packaged high sugar granola bars
- Cherry Cobbler (can use the topping on its own as a granola)