We all get cravings. And we all indulge them – sometimes we go right to the source and have that huge plate of nachos at the bar (and nothing ever tasted so good). But we can’t indulge them all the time and keep up a healthy lifestyle. The results of that would not be pretty (imagine how sluggish you’d feel trying to survive solely off of nachos). But luckily, there are ways to indulge some common cravings that are way healthier for the day-to-day. 

Here are some of my favorite tasty, healthy swaps for my typical cravings  – and the health benefits I love about them.

1. Toast

Instead of white bread, go for… SPROUTED BREAD

White bread goes through processing to remove the bran and germ from the grain, which contains the fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some manufacturers are able to enrich the bread by adding back the vitamins and minerals that were removed during the process. White bread also has a high glycemic index, meaning that the refined grains are quickly absorbed by your body causing a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. This will cause you to hit a slump, feel lethargic, be hungry sooner, and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease. 

Sprouting has lots of benefits! It…

  • breaks down starches in grains into simple sugars making it easy for your body to digest.
  • breaks down enzyme inhibitors so your body can absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc more easily. 
  • releases antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamins B2, B5, and B6. 

2. Pasta

Instead of white pasta, go for… ZUCCHINI NOODLES or QUINOA PASTA

White pasta is like white bread in that it has a high glycemic index, and through the processing the wheat loses its fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Zucchini noodles are high in vitamin C which protects your cells from free radicals and helps your body metabolize cholesterol. There are also lots of different kinds of pasta out there made of beans, lentils, and even edamame. Check out what’s available at your store before reaching for your usual white spaghetti. 

Whole wheat pasta is another great option, though it packs less protein than the bean varieties. However, it does contain whole grains and more fiber than traditional white pasta. Quinoa pasta is a great vegetarian protein source because it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It also has a low glycemic index, packed with fiber, and rich in calcium, iron, and B vitamins. 

3. Tacos or quesadillas

Instead of flour tortillas, go for… CORN TORTILLAS

Corn tortillas have about half the calories of flour tortillas. Nutrition isn’t all about the calories, but it is good to keep in mind. 

Corn tortillas are smaller, so you might want more than one (2 tacos sounds better than one to me…) But corn tortillas are overall more nutritious– they are lower in fat and higher in fiber than flour tortillas. And why does that matter?Fiber improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, and controls blood sugar levels. Corn tortillas are also high in magnesium, which is good for building stronger muscles. Corn tortillas also typically only contain corn flour and water while flour tortillas often contain preservatives, a lot of salt, and many other ingredients. 

4. More crunch in my salad

Instead of adding croutons, go for… ROASTED CHICKPEAS

Roasted chickpeas are a great substitute for croutons on a salad. They add great flavor and a nice crunch. Chickpeas are also a great vegetarian source of protein and iron. 

Children, teens, women, and vegetarians often have a hard time getting enough iron. Iron helps make red blood cells and certain hormones, and it’s important for cell function and normal growth. One cup of chickpeas meets 25% of a woman’s daily iron needs and 50% of a man’s needs.

In comparison, croutons do not have much nutritional value – they mostly contain processed carbohydrates. Substitute chickpeas for croutons and you’ll have a healthier – and more interesting – salad!

Try some of these recipes with your next salad:

5. Baked goods

Instead of adding sugar, use… AGAVE, HONEY, COCONUT SUGAR, or DATES

Plain white sugar robs the body of B vitamins, disrupts the body’s ability to absorb calcium, and has a deleterious effect on the nervous system. Sugar is addictive, causing you to always want more of it, which leads to overconsumption. White sugar leads to tooth decay, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. 

Honey is antibacterial and an antioxidant. It also helps intro your brain function. Agave has a low-glycemic index which means that it won’t cause a sharp rise or fall in blood sugar. Coconut sugar contains iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Coconut sugar also contains a fiber called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption, which is why it has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. Lastly, dates have a high glycemic index, but are high in fiber, help prevent abdominal cancer by promoting healthy bowel movements, strengthen bones, and boost the nervous system. Dates contains selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, which are important to healthy bone development. 

Whoa. That’s a long list of benefits. Convinced?

Honey, agave, coconut sugar, and dates are all still of course “sugars” (hence the reason they can make your cookies taste so damn good) and should also be consumed in moderation. 

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