If you're trying to eat a little more healthily this year, take a look at these easy swaps and additions that can indulge your cravings without expanding your waistline.
Have you ever come home with a craving for a sweet treat and reached for a handful of candy simply because it was convenient? Now imagine you had come home, and there was a bowl full of berries and cubed fruit in the fridge that was equally handy. Do you think you would be able to talk yourself into reaching for the fruit instead? You'll never know until you try. The next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a wide selection of fruits you're familiar with and a few you're new to. Large fruits, such as pineapples, watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydew melons, can be cubed and stored in the fridge for a couple of days. If you don't think you'll go through a whole melon that quickly, cut up just a half or a quarter. Small fruits, such as raspberries, blackberries, grapes, strawberries and blueberries, can be rinsed and stored in the fridge for up to a week. And don't forget about apples, oranges, pears and peaches for convenient grab-and-go snacks. Fruits are low in calories, high in dietary fibre and loaded with natural sugars, which make them an ideal way to soothe your sweet tooth in a healthy way.
Think teas are too bland to satisfy your sweet tooth? Then you aren't drinking the right tea! You aren't limited to lemon-ginger or camomile anymore. All your favourite flavours — from chocolate to caramel — can be infused into a tea for a tasty, guilt-free treat. David's Tea has an herbal blend called Forever Nuts, which is a delicious combination of nuts, dried fruit and cinnamon that becomes a stunning shade of pink when steeped. Enjoy it with a few drops of almond milk after your dinner to satisfy your sweet tooth and let your body know mealtime is over. Or if you want something a little more refreshing, try this Moroccan-style mint green tea. It's naturally sweetened with stevia leaves for the perfect flavour. And because teas are close to being calorie-free, you can enjoy them as often as you want.
Natural cocoa, from which chocolate is made, is high in iron and dietary fibre, which means it offers numerous nutritional benefits. Unfortunately you don't get a lot of that nutrition when it's covered in sugar and cream, as is the case with milk chocolate. Plus, the added sugar and fat in milk chocolate can heat up your cravings but never quite satisfy them, which can lead you to consume too much. Making the transition to dark chocolate can be tough at first, but it will be worth it in the long run. If you're used to milk chocolate, try a bar of 40 to 50 per cent dark chocolate. Once you get used to that, go up to 60 per cent, then 70 and then 80. You'd be surprised what your taste buds can get used to — and even come to enjoy — when you give them time. Raw cocoa powder is also a great way to get your chocolate fix in a healthier manner, so bake it into healthy muffins, or blend it into the occasional smoothie.
If you're a sucker for peanut butter and could spread its creamy goodness on just about anything, you're not the only one. But if you indulge in nut butters touted as "low-calorie" or "low-fat," you might be doing yourself more harm than good. Many peanut butters are loaded with added sugar and salt, which can tantalize your taste buds and increase your cravings. Look for brands in which the only ingredient is "ground peanuts." When you crack open the jar, don't be alarmed by the separation of the nuts and the oil; this is simply because you don't have all those yucky additives artificially holding it together. Just give it a good stir, store it in the fridge, and you'll have a similar consistency to what you're familiar with. The taste can take a little getting used to, as it won't have the same punch of sweetness and salt you've had all these years. But if you commit to not buying the artificial stuff until you finish a full jar of the natural version, your taste buds should adjust. You might even find you prefer peanut butter the simpler way!
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