10 healthy swaps for the foods you crave

So it’s been a long bank holiday weekend filled with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate thanks to Easter and the joys of Easter eggs. But now the joy of chocolate has subsided and you’re back to work with the harsh reality of knowing how many calories you’ve consumed over the past few days. So you might be thinking right lets start a super strict diet that cuts out all sugars, carbs and basically anything nice. While this might work for some people, this definitely does not work for me as I’ll be really good for about a week or so and then the cravings start to kick in and in the end I just give up, resulting in a massive binge of anything sweet and naughty basically. Then I’m right back where I started in the first place. Instead I prefer to take the more controlled and healthier route while still allowing myself some treats from time to time as I know my body and I know that I can’t live without sweet things. Cravings are my worst enemy so here are a few healthier alternatives to my ultimate mouthwatering foods.

  1. Chocolate for hot chocolate. Now the reason this is number 1 is because chocolate is something that I crave pretty much once a day and I can amazingly trawl through whole 200g bar in one sitting (which isn’t really that amazing now I think about it because it’s not good for my body). So instead of devouring a whole bar of chocolate I get my chocolate fix with a hot chocolate instead as they contain a lot less calories but you still get to taste that chocolatey goodness.

2.  Ice cream for frozen yoghurt. Everyone has the same two best friends in this world and they’re called ‘Ben’ and ‘Jerry’. This is the king of all ice creams, the best of the best and they just keep getting better with all their new and exciting yummy flavours. But I’m not here to promote ice cream, instead if you fancy something cold and creamy why not try frozen yoghurt. Frozen yoghurt is a great alternative, there are so many flavours, even chocolate! Just make sure you scoop a reasonable portion into a bowl instead of eating out of the tub because we all know eating out of the tub means finishing the whole tub.

3. Sweets for dried fruit or just fruit. Sweets are something that I never seem to crave but if I come across some then I end up eating and eating until the bag is finished; I simply can’t stop. So to tackle this I introduce to you my favourite snack ever….. DRIED FRUIT and more specifically dried MANGO! I am obsessed with dried mango because it genuinely does taste like sweets without all the added rubbish. Yes I am aware that dried mango and other dried fruits can be a little high in sugar but its a whole lot better than eating an entire bag of Haribo. But if dried fruit isn’t your thing then just simply go for normal fruit instead as this should satisfy your sweet tooth cravings and you know what they say if you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple then you’re not hungry at all.

 

4. Crisps for crackers/carrots and salsa dip. If you’re craving crisps then you’re craving something crunchy and perhaps salty, so to overcome this you need something that will fulfil this texture and satisfy your needs. My answer to this is either crackers or carrots dipped in salsa (or without salsa if you prefer). Now the reason behind salsa and not sour cream and chive or any other creamy dip is tomato based dips are a lot better for you than the creamy ones. As for the crackers, I tend to use are either multigrain crackers or melba toasts which are great for that crunchy texture. I usually limit myself to 4 crackers or 1 carrot so that I’m not over dipping.

 

5. Chips for roasted vegetables. This swap is not only a healthier alternative but can be a cheaper alternative too which is always a bonus. Instead of buying frozen chips and wasting more valuable freezer space why not buy a load of veg bung it in the oven to roast with some herbs and olive oil and you got yourself a pretty good healthier alternative. Whether it be broccoli, peppers, onions, sweet potato, butternut squash or carrots, you can chuck practically any vegetable in there. This is also a great way to use up any veg that might be going off and avoid waste. So not only is this healthier and cheaper, it also helps the environment.

6. Pizza for tortilla pizza. I LOVE pizza. Whenever anyone asked me the famous get to know you question of ‘What’s your favourite food?’ My answer would always be pizza and still always is pizza. But unfortunately it isn’t the healthiest thing on the menu so to overcome this and satisfy my pizza needs I make tortilla pizzas which was a household fav when I was at home. All you need is a tortilla wrap (wholemeal is preferred), tomato purée, cheese (low fat or not any at all if preferred) and then any toppings you like.

 

7. Cake for banana oat cakes. If you’re a banana fan then this is the swap for you! There’s nothing complicated about banana oat cakes, its just bananas and oats, mash them together and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and thats it! (I added chocolate chips to mine which is naughty I know but its all about balance and moderation)

 

8. Biscuits for popcorn. We all know biscuits are one of those snacks where you can’t just have 1 or 2 because it always develops into 4 or 5 until suddenly the whole pack is devoured. To battle this biscuit devouring, swap this for popcorn but be careful not to eat the whole bag of popcorn too. Take a handful or two and pop it into a bowl then put the bag BACK or buy a multipack of popcorn if you don’t trust yourself in the portions department. The propercorn sweet coconut and vanilla is one of my favourite flavours of all time!

 

9. Pancakes for banana oat pancakes. Another swap for you banana lovers. I love bananas they’re so versatile and you can use them as a basis for so many recipes whether they’re ready to eat or ripe, plus they’re pretty cheap. So instead of loaded maple syrup pancakes, why not make a banana oat pancake drizzled with honey and some fruit for toppings. All you need is banana, oats, eggs and baking powder, mix it all up and fry it in a pan until golden brown.

 

10. Burgers for veggie burgers. Last but not least if you don’t want your last meal of the day to be a heavy one then swap your normal burger for a veggie burger. I was always skeptical of vegetarian food before trying vegetarian bean burgers which are honestly so delicious and have a lot more flavour than anticipated. My recent favourite bean burgers are from Morrisons with their spicy bean burgers which kind of taste like a samosa in a weird way but I love them.

 

*Disclaimer. I’m not saying any of these alternatives are the most healthy option but these are healthiER alternatives that work for me and satisfy my cravings. This is always open to interpretation as its just about finding what works for you and your body. We’re all unique so what works for one person may not work for another, just do YOU.

Healthy eating as a student

So if you don’t already know I am currently a student, which means I can’t splash out on luxury food, organic fruit and veg or even chia seeds (which are ridiculously expensive for a seed I must add) and basically anything that your average healthy Instagramer promotes on a daily basis. So here is my solution to being healthy whilst also being a student…

First up is breakfast and lately I’m really into making smoothies because A its a way of loading up on your fruit AND veg, which many students lack, plus its a way of getting rid of that mouldy fruit you haven’t quite got round to eating as its right near the biscuit tin and lets face it biscuits come first.

I tend to just mix and match my smoothie flavours with basically whatever fruit I have at that time so the one on the left was mango, blueberries, spinach and apple juice and the one on the right is my newest obsession with banana, mango, raspberries, desiccated coconut and apple juice. It’s seriously da bomb! Plus its a cute pinky colour so looks appetising as well. Now you maybe thinking well how can she afford all this fruit when she’s a student…? Well my friends here is where frozen fruit comes in, not only is it cheaper than fresh fruit but lasts a whole lot longer and all you have to do is just pop it in the blender and let it do its thang. Same great taste but way cheaper. Also I am a rather avid bargain hunter/yellow sticker seeker (thanks dad) so when those bananas are reduced because they a lil ripe I’ll snatch those bad boys up for my smoothies.

Now onto actual food for breakfast, I tend to either have a bagel or toast or if I’m feeling a little fancy and creative then I’ll replicate a salmon and cream cheese bagel but we all know that smoked salmon is very expensive and frankly way out of a students league. So instead of using smoked salmon I use this cooked ham from Lidl and grill it. You could use bacon but because I’m a cheapskate and I am partial to a little ham to snack on every now and then (don’t judge) this works a lot better for me. Plus it kind of tastes the same anyway! Also in winter if I’m feeling a warm hearty breakfast then I’ll opt for porridge as you can’t go wrong with a good ole bowl of porridge. To add some chocolatey flavour I mixed a spoonful of Nutella into the mixture and added some slices of banana on top to create a scrummy morning meal.

Next up is lunch and this varies from day to day and is very dependant on how much time I have. I love salads but I’m so put off by the actual preparation and creation of salads which is so lazy I know so this is probably one of student luxuries buying pre-prepared salad kits. My favourite one is the caesar salad kit from Lidl for £1.69 which isn’t too bad as I can get two servings out of it and its the only way I’m going to actually eat salad so its worth it. The salad on the left below is one of my more upmarket salads containing avocado and super grains which is by far the best salad I’ve ever made (if I do say so myself). Another lunchtime fav is for when I’m craving something naughty but don’t want to indulge too much as its only lunchtime… tortilla pizza. This is something my mum used to make all the time for lunch when we were growing up and its such an easy, cheap and quick way of satisfying those midday urges. All you need is simply a tortilla wrap, tomato puree, cheese and anything else you want to put on top. I opted for tomatoes, peppers and some herbs on mine which was absolutely scrummy.

Tea/dinner (whatever you want to call it) can be challenging for a student as this is where the protein comes in and meat isn’t cheap nowadays. My solution to this is load up on veg and potatoes (but not too much potato I must add). My absolute go to is roasted veg because all you do is chop up a load of veg, add a splash of oil and in the oven it goes. Then all you have to do is add a little bit of meat to accompany the veg mountain. In the photo on the left I actually had breaded cod as you can get four from Lidl for under £2! If I’m feeling a lighter tea/dinner then I’ll opt for salad instead of veg and bung in some sweet potato wedges as who doesn’t love sweet potato.

If I’m out all day and know that I won’t want to cook when I get back then I can always rely on my faithful slow cooker to do the job. If you’re a student and don’t have a slow cooker then I seriously suggest investing in one as they are an easy way to whip up tea/dinner and stop you from ordering that dominos because you can’t be bothered to cook. Some of my favourite things to cook in the slow cooker are sweet and sour chicken and butter chicken as you can whack a load of veg with that too and let it simmer all day. Also to pad out the meal I tend to add some sweet potato which can be a veggie alternative to meat or just an extra if you’re feeling a tad hangry (yes not hungry, HANGRY!)

And lastly its dessert because who doesn’t love dessert. One of my go to desserts is rice pudding. Yes don’t we all remember having rice pudding when we were little, I sure do and still do to this day. It’s cheap (around 30p per can) and fills you up. I tend to bung a load of fruit ontop with some honey and away you go. Another alternative is bananas and custard which may divide people (and rice pudding too when I think about it) but it’s one of my all time favs and I love it! Can’t go wrong with a bit of ambrosia.

So you can eat healthily as a student its just about integrating fruit and veg into dishes where you can and putting on your bargain hunting hat when you go shopping. Also I must point out that portion control is very important as you don’t want to overindulge (well not every day anyway, save that for special occasions.) I know the food I’ve shown you isn’t probably diet worthy but I’m not on a diet and I don’t intend to be, I’m simply eating healthily and living a healthy lifestyle which includes a few treats and naughty things yes. Too many people nowadays have these grand ideas and drastic measures when it comes to “dieting” when in fact its just a mixture of eating healthily and in moderation (as much as I hate saying that word) and exercising. You’ve just got to find what works for you and remember to Be True Be You.