(BPT) - Many people associate healthy eating with bland, flavorless, unexciting foods. This mindset limits exploring new dishes and desserts that offer ample taste as well as nutrition. Even classic cravings — like salty, savory or sweet — can be satisfied with a few simple food swaps and a mindful approach.
By changing out a few foods in your diet, you can transform your eating habits while enjoying the flavors you love. Here are five ideas to help you start:
Flavored popcorn or nuts instead of chips
When you get the craving for something salty and crunchy, it's easy to reach for your favorite bag of chips. Those fried little morsels are delicious, but definitely not healthy. Instead, stock up on nuts, like almonds and pistachios, when these hunger pangs strike. Making popcorn yourself is a good option as well.
As for flavoring, go easy on the salt or skip it altogether. Try dried herbs and seasoning, such as cumin, chili powder, curry or ginger. Explore mixes such as Italian herb blends or customize your own. Nutritional yeast is another healthier topping that is trending with health-conscious folks for its unique umami flavor.
Healthier chocolate options
Melt-in-your mouth chocolate is a decadent indulgence often packed with sugar and calories. What if you could get the same great taste and texture without all the extras? Chocolate lovers rejoice because an exciting new chocolate has arrived. New GATSBY Chocolate delivers a rich, premium chocolate at only 60-70 calories and 4-6 grams of sugar per serving.
Created by the co-founder of Halo Top ice cream, this is the lowest calorie chocolate bar available with half the calories and a quarter of the sugar of traditional chocolate. Best yet, that's without sacrificing decadent taste or creamy texture. GATSBY Chocolate is currently available in stores nationwide in two delicious flavors: Classic Milk Chocolate Style and Almond Dark Chocolate Style varieties. You can learn more at GatsbyChocolate.com.
Cooked apples in, sugar-laden desserts out
Cookies, pies, cakes and tarts — desserts that are decadent but come with a whopping amount of sugar. From the dough and the batter to the icing and sprinkles on top, sugar leads the ingredient list. If you want a satisfying dessert without excess sugar, explore the versatility of baked apples.
There are many ways to bake apples, including the oven, microwave and slow cooker. Apples are a good source of vitamin C, plus when you leave on the skins you get a fiber boost. Instead of butter and sugar, many healthier baked apple recipes use cinnamon, honey or maple syrup, and some oats to create a crumble or crust.
Root vegetables instead of fruit
It's true that fruit is nature's candy and enjoying some fresh or baked fruit can be a wonderful way to satisfy a sweet tooth and get vital nutrients. However, eating is about balance, and too much fruit can be bad for your teeth and detract from your nutrition goals.
For example, if you want a side item with a hint of sweetness, skip the fruit and try baking vegetables with sweet undertones. Beets are naturally sweet when roasted, much like other root vegetables like carrots and yams. Turnips, parsnips and rutabagas are subtly sweet options worth trying as well.
Natural sugars versus refined sugars
A spoonful in your coffee, a dash on your oatmeal, a sprinkle with cinnamon on toast — refined sugar is frequently used by Americans every day. A healthier option is to seek out natural sweeteners in what you use at home and what foods you purchase.
Using a natural sweetener, like allulose — an ingredient found naturally in fruits like figs and raisins — can tastefully transform your dish without all the sugar. Look for allulose on the ingredient list on the side or back of packaging, or you can even purchase it for use in your home. Other natural sweeteners to consider include honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Additionally, when baking, research simple swaps for sugar and oil, such as mashed ripe banana or applesauce.
Satisfying your cravings doesn't mean sacrificing your nutrition. These delicious swaps for favorite foods are equally delectable and you can feel good when you eat them.