There are many healthy alternatives to junk and processed foods; many of which are just as quick and easy to obtain as the highly addictive processed foods. In addition, healthier alternatives are usually much fresher, which means they are also much tastier.
And the best part about healthy alternatives is that they are not addictive, and thus will not further increase food cravings. Cravings can be difficult to deal with, but when satisfied naturally with healthy foods, they will eventually subside.
Some of the substitutions include sunflower seeds and other nuts and seeds, fresh fruits, raw cacao, natural sweeteners, herbal teas and free-range animal products.
Healthy Alternatives for Chips and Popcorn
Chips and popcorn are common addictions, especially for those who spend a lot of time in front of the television. They can help to pass the time, but the calories add up after a while. Choosing a healthier alternative to these unhealthy snacks will not only help to promote better health, but can also help to maintain a healthy weight.
Popcorn. Organic popcorn kernels are not necessarily that unhealthy when popped in a pot over the stove. However, the microwavable popcorn should be avoided because it contains unhealthy oils and food additives.
Sunflower Seeds. Sunflower seeds are an excellent alternative to chips and popcorn. This is especially true if they are roasted and salted while still in the shell. The seeds can be flavored with your favorite herbs and spices, and enjoyed without the guilt of consuming excess calories. How to Toast Sunflower Seeds
Trail Mix. A trail mix is another great alternative. You can mix your favorite nuts and seeds, dried fruits and cacao nibs, into a bowl and enjoy the mix whenever a craving for chips or microwave popcorn arises.
Home-made Chips. It’s really not that difficult to make your own chips at home. They won’t taste the same, but they nevertheless will help to satisfy the cravings. And the good news is that eventually you will overcome the cravings because homemade chips don’t contain any addictive ingredients.
Corn chips are probably the easiest to make because you can just take some corn tortillas and bake them until they are crisp. You can also make your own from scratch using corn flour, commonly referred to as “masa” or “maseca”.
You can also bake your own potato chips in order to avoid the processed stuff. Kale chips are quite common and are fairly easy to make. Other vegetables that can be used include carrots, zucchini, and radishes.
Alternatives for Soda Pops
Ah … soda pops. They go good with just about any meal including breakfast. They not only help the food taste better, but they are also an excellent source of artificial energy. The health problems associated with these drinks, however, are numerous and thus they should be the first to be replaced with healthier alternatives.
Fresh Fruit Juices. Fresh fruit juices can be made with a simple juicer right in the kitchen. The great thing about fruit juices is that they are high in naturally occurring sugars, which also increase energy levels.
Teas. Natural teas are also a great alternative to sodas. Tea generally does not contain sugar, but some teas contain small amounts of caffeine, which can help to replace the caffeine in sodas. Matcha is a powdered tea, and it is excellent for increasing energy and brain activity, making it the perfect replacement. Tea Recipes
Smoothies. Smoothies, whether green smoothies or fruit smoothies, can help to reduce the need for sodas tremendously. Fresh fruit and many vegetables, such as cucumbers and celery, contain high amounts of fluids and other nutrients that can help to reduce the need for an energizing soda. Fruit Smoothies
One can also resort to superfood smoothies made with coconut oil, raw cacao, maca, acai, ginseng, mucuna, and many other superfood powders.
Water. Last but not least, plenty of fresh clean water in between meals will help to eliminate the need for sodas as well.
Healthy Alternatives for Sugar
Sugar is another big one to let go of. It is not always bad for health especially when taken in moderate amounts from a natural source. The worst offenders are the refined sugars and sugar substitutes, which are hidden in many junk and other processed foods. When taken in excess amounts they can lead to hyperactivity, candida and diabetes.
Fresh Fruits. Most fruits are naturally high in sugar and thus can help to naturally sweeten smoothies or other foods. A few goods ones are dates, bananas, mangoes and apples.
Natural Sweeteners. There are also many other natural sweeteners that can be used to replace artificial and refined sugars. Some of the most popular ones are honey, liquid stevia, stevia leaf powder, xylitol, agave and coconut sugar.
Just remember that even though the above mentioned sweeteners are natural, they should still be consumed in moderation. Xylitol especially should be kept in small amounts because it can cause digestive problems.
Healthy Alternatives for Chocolate
Most chocolate today has been highly processed and contains many unhealthy ingredients. A healthy alternative is to purchase raw cacao, which has not been treated with high temperatures, nor does it contain any other ingredients. The raw cacao is available in a powdered form, in small nibs, as well as the whole bean.
Raw cacao goes great in fruit smoothies, superfood smoothies, almond chocolate balls, brownies and even in homemade chocolate bars.
There is a lot of controversy around raw cacao, but studies indicate that it helps to promote an overall feeling of wellness. Therefore, it is good to help with emotional stress and depression. It also helps to increase energy levels, which is due to the caffeine it contains. As with any other food, however, the intake of cacao should be kept in moderation.
Healthy Alternatives to Dressings
Most store-bought dressings and sauces are loaded with an unhealthy amount of artificial food additives. Therefore, it is best to replace them with homemade dressings as well. Fresh lemon juice, vinegars, herbs and fresh fruits and vegetables, can be used to make a low or no-fat dressing. For something a little heavier, you can also use fresh avocados, nuts and seeds, and cold-pressed oils.
Alternatives to Meats and Other High-Fat Foods
Meats and meat products do not have to be eliminated from the diet, however, they should ideally be consumed in small portions. Also, it is important to choose organically, or grass-fed products over the conventional and prepackaged products.
Avocados. Avocados are probably the best alternative to meats because not only do they contain all the healthy fats the body needs, but they also contain all the essential amino acids needed for the body to build its own protein. Avocados are great in smoothies, salads, guacamoles and even in soups.
Coconuts and Coconut Oil. As with meat and other animal products, coconuts and coconut oil are rich with saturated fats, thus making them an ideal substitute. Both the coconut flesh and oil go great in smoothies. The key is moderation when it comes to the oil because it can cause negative side effects if taken in large amounts.
Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds are also high in amino acids and healthy fats. These are great for snacking on in between meals or for topping a salad.
Legumes. All legumes are high in protein as well. These are great for times when you crave for something warm as you can make bean stews, soups and tacos with them.
Protein Powders. Last but not least, protein powders can also be used as a substitute for meats. Just make sure that you read the labels and get one that is suitable for you. Most powders contain whey, which is derived from dairy and could cause an allergic reaction if you are allergic to dairy. Also, be on the lookout for hidden sugars if you are trying to avoid them.
Alternatives to Dairy and Dairy Products
Organic dairy and dairy products do not necessarily have to be harmful when taken in small amounts. In general, however, most dairy products contain harmful ingredients that can bring about more harm than good. Therefore, it becomes necessary to replace them with healthier alternatives. The sad part about it is though that dairy and dairy products are hard to replace with alternatives.
Nut Milk. One of the easier replacements for dairy is nut milk. The milk can be made from just about any nut or seed. And although the contents are different, the nut milk does resembles dairy in color. Click here for an article on how to make nut milk.
Homemade Nut Milk Yogurt. You can also make a homemade nut milk yogurt to replace the yogurt in stores. It is very easy to make and tastes about the same as well. Click here on how to make yogurt from nut milk.
Nut Cheese Balls and Spreads. Cheese is technically not replaceable from a non-vegan source. However, you can resort to making your own cheese from raw dairy if you have access to it. Otherwise you can make mock cheese balls and spreads by using the pulp from sunflower seeds, Macadamia nuts, or other soft nuts and seeds. Some of the ingredients to give it a cheesy flavor are nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Sunflower Cheeseball Recipe