With Spring Break coming up, the campus rec is full of New Years Resolution-ers and the day one fit fams grinding to achieve fitness goals and a healthy lifestyle. We work hard in the gym, stop ourselves from eating those Pub cheese balls and sometimes even skip a Chasers Thursday. This time of the year there is a lot of emphasis on staying focused and doing anything you can to get that bikini ready body. With all of the stress of school, internships and extra-curricular activities, it’s sometimes hard to stay on a healthy schedule. We miss the gym occasionally, and we might even stress eat a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s. We are all human, and let’s face it, food is one of the greater things in life. So, how do we enjoy food, manage everything on our plates (no pun intended) and still make progress toward our healthy lifestyle changes? I’m about to introduce you to some of the best healthy substitutes to your favorite foods. This way, you can still eat the foods you love, but this time around it will be guilt free. From sweet and savory to on the go, these yummy substitutes will taste just as good if not better than your favorite foods.
Lara bars: These convenient bars are made of wholesome, natural ingredients and come in a large variety of flavors. Lara Bars are almost as good as your favorite candy bar. Craving a blueberry muffin? There’s a Lara Bar for that. Craving some chocolate chip cookie dough? There’s a Lara Bar for that! Craving some pumpkin pie? Yup, you guessed it, there’s a Lara bar for that too! Check out the label, and you will realize that there is absolutely no sugar added. The ingredients are minimal. They are all natural, and they are exactly what they say they are (and you can pronounce them all). Lara bars are date and nut based, so they are high in protein and omega 3’s. They also come in Lara Bar bites, as well as superfood bars. You can get Lara Bars at most grocery stores, or you can order them online.
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Rx Bars: This date based bar can be used as a quick meal replacement, or it can also be used as a snack. These bars are whole food protein packed bars that are very clear about their wholesome ingredients. On the front packaging, the Rx Bar reads precisely how many egg whites, nuts and dates are in each flavored bar. Look in the ingredients section on the back of the packing to find any additional ingredients. Any and all ingredients are natural with no preservatives or chemicals. Rx Bars are filling and offer great flavor. Mint chocolate, chocolate sea salt and chocolate coconut are a few of my favorites. To find Rx Bars, go to your local Hyvee, or order online.
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Nature’s Bakery date brownies: Do you ever just crave warm brownies? Because same. Now you can satisfy that craving with absolutely no guilt. Coming in flavors chocolate, raspberry, mint, and blueberry, these date based brownies taste just like the real thing. I like to warm them up in the microwave and add a scoop of Halo Top (we will discuss this delicious treat later.) Just like our childhood favorite brownie, the Cosmic Brownie, these date brownies come in 2 squares, so you can eat one now and save one for later. Find these brownies at the local Hyvee or online.
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Lenny and Larry’s Complete cookies and brownies: Having a sweet tooth is hard. I would love to sit and eat cookies, but that’s not how life works. Well, it can be now. Lenny and Larry’s created a cookie that they call, The Complete Cookie, which is packed with 16-20 grams of protein per cookie. These cookies come in all of the delicious cookie flavors that we love: chocolate chip, peanut butter, birthday cake, white chocolate macadamia nut, double chocolate, oatmeal raisin, and much more. The company also makes a Complete Brownie, which is packed with protein. Lenny and Larry’s goodies are sold at Smoothie King locations, GNC, Hyvee, and online. Their online store offers bundle packages of an assortment of products for a pretty low price. Again, warm these up for a fresh out of the oven experience.
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Eating Evolved chocolate: Eating Evolved offers peanut butter cups, single chocolate squares, or a brick of chocolate. All of the chocolate is made with coconut sugar for a lower sugar content. The chocolate is so rich and comes in a variety of flavors.
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Quest protein chips: Quest Nutrition is one of my go-to healthy snacks. If you’re like many people and crave chips and salty snacks rather than sweet ones, Quest protein chips are the answer to your prayers. They don’t have a disgusting powder consistency like some protein snacks do. Quest protein chips remind me of baked Lays, but better for you. With 21-23 grams of protein per bag and only 2 to 3 net carbs, you cannot beat this snack. They even have our favorite classic chip flavors: Sour crème and onion, cheddar and sour cream, barbeque, vinegar, and original. Find these at GNC, Hyvee, or online at Questnutrition.com
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Sweet potato chips and greek yogurt dip: This is such an easy snack to make! Simply slice a sweet potato into thin circles, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle salt and pepper and bake until crisp. I dip these in Opadipity By Litehouse’s flavored Greek yogurt dips.
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Junk Food goes Joy Food
Pasta replacements: I have tried a number of replacements for pasta. I have tried zoodles (zucchini noodles) and spaghetti squash. Both are insanely easy to make and with the perfect sauce taste just like real pasta, and are equally satisfying. My particular favorite is spaghetti squash. This meal is low in calories, fat and sugar. Find your favorite recipe and try it the next time you’re craving pasta. I promise you will not be let down.
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Pizza crust replacement: CAULIFLOWER. I wish I could say this with more emphasis. There are so many different variations for cauliflower crust. I know it sounds like a tedious task to make this, but you can buy cauliflower that is already shredded to shorten the cooking process. Bake it, add your favorite toppings, bake some more, and ta-da! Pizza without the guilt.
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Pancakes: Protein pancakes! Try Quest nutrition’s protein pancake mix or Birch Blenders pancake mix. For syrup, use agave nectar which has a lower glycemic index. You can also use Walden Farms zero calorie syrup.
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Ice cream: Halo Top (you must try Oatmeal Cookie) and Arctic Zero. Halo Top has a lot of protein compared to other ice cream brands. Arctic zero is lactose free and has more of a shaved ice consistency. Try both, it’s absolutely necessary for survival, I promise.
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Walden Farms products: Walden Farms makes salad dressings, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, maple syrup, coffee creamers, and more. The best part? They’re all calorie free!
(Photo courtesy of Waldenfarms.com)
Butter Flavored Coconut Oil: This is quite possible one of the best inventions of all time. The brand Nutiva created a coconut oil that tastes, smells and acts like butter. The best part? It’s non-GMO, non-hydrogenated, and vegan! Use it to cook all of your favorite foods rather than adding that stick of butter. Use it for grilled cheese, use it on your toasted bagel, use it for anything you would use regular butter for. This item is available at many grocery stores including Hyvee, Jewel, Whole Foods, and Kroger.
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What healthy substitute will you try next?