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Healthy Junk Food Alternatives That Really Hit The Spot

So, it’s wintertime and walking from Towers to Chevron within ten minutes in the notorious, subzero weather is a task that must be rewarded. And no, an apple simply does not suffice.  Brownie batter-filled donuts from Dunkin; warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies; chocolate covered pretzels—definitely more satisfying than a celery stalk or a piece of fruit. Alas, winter does not last forever and within no time it will be bikini season. There has to be another way to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing you to gain ten Freshman Fifteens in the process. Well, crave on! Here are some mouthwatering, guilt-free junk food alternatives that truly hit the spot, whether you’re craving something sweet, savory, or in between. You won’t regret a single bite.

Everything tastes better with chocolate.

Chocolate is a must when it comes to snacking. Rather than going straight for the king-size Butterfinger at Quickzone, grab a banana or a pack of strawberries, and help yourself to some chocolate covered fruit! All you need are dark chocolate chips and your favorite fruit! Pour about a handful of chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and warm for about 30 seconds, or until melted. Dip the fruit into the bowl and enjoy! If you’re on the go, place several pieces of fruit on a stick and drizzle on some melted chocolate for a fast and easy medley of flavors. If you have time, place the chocolate-covered fruit in the freezer for a couple of minutes until the chocolate solidifies.

Some other alternatives to fruit are whole-wheat pretzels if you’re yearning for a sweet and savory concoction, or almonds, raisins, and rice cakes. For additional toppings, sprinkle crushed nuts onto your chocolate-covered treats, or dip the snacks into organic peanut butter.

I want a brownie and I want it now.

If you’re on the go and don’t have time to put together a little treat, there are several extremely satisfying snacks you can buy at any grocery store.

Special K, for instance, has an overwhelming amount of low-calorie snacks that are almost identical to your favorite desserts. The only difference is you don’t feel guilty or lethargic after eating them! If you’re in the mood for chips, try their Sour Cream and Onion Cracker Chips. They have a lot of flavor like regular sour cream and onion chips, but are not drenched in oil.

Or if you’re really craving a fudgy brownie, try their “Heavenly Caramel Brownies” or “Blondie Brownie Bites.” One brownie is 80 calories and one package of the brownie bites is only 100 calories! There are a ton of other snacks that hit pretty much every craving a hungry girl can possibly have, so definitely check out Special K next time you go grocery shopping.

Ice cream? In winter?

Yes, I know it’s winter, but we all crave ice cream. Don’t pretend like you haven’t raced to Tower Treats for some Red Velvet ice cream after a long day of studying—it happens. Unfortunately, eating ice cream every night for dinner can be really fattening…or is it? With this one ingredient ice cream, you can have ice cream after every meal and it’ll totally be okay!

All you need to do is cut a banana into several pieces and freeze it for at least two hours. Although a food processor is ideal, a blender still does the job.  Put the banana pieces in, and blend once. Now, add in any other ingredients that you would like – organic peanut butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa powder, honey – whatever your heart desires. Blend all the ingredients until the mixture is creamy. You may have to blend, then scrape the sides of the blender, and then blend again. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, feel free to add toppings! Mini dark chocolate chips, chopped fruit, crushed walnuts, coconut shavings, berries, granola—the possibilities are endless. If you want even more flavor, you can try blending the banana with frozen strawberry pieces, or Nutella. Your taste buds will thank you, and so will your flat stomach.

Breakfast? Ain’t nobody got time for th – did you say pancakes?

Bananas are extremely dynamic: you can dip ‘em in chocolate, use them to make ice cream… Well, now you can even use them to make healthy, quick pancakes. Simply mash a ripe banana and blend it with one egg for a couple seconds. Add cinnamon, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, mini chocolate chips, blueberries, or anything else you want to the mixture. Instead of using butter to grease your pan, you can try coconut oil, or any low-fat oil.  Fry for thirty seconds on each side and enjoy.

Cracker Pizza

Having an obsession with pizza can be such a struggle considering a single slice ranges from about 250-700 calories. If you are craving pizza but don’t want to blow your diet, try incorporating its core ingredients into a quick afternoon snack. All you need are pita chips, tomato slices or tomato sauce, and your favorite shredded cheese. If you want to use a healthier cheese, try part-skim mozzarella slices. 

Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Azeen is a Biology Major at University of Pittsburgh. She is excited to share her passion for fitness, food, and beauty in her writing and is super excited to be a part of the HerCampus team.
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