You had a long day, the kids are asleep, you're looking forward to enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep and then all of a sudden it hits you - your sweet tooth. And even though you know it’s bound to rear its ugly head at some point in the day, silencing it by ignoring it or wishing it away just doesn’t work. So what do you do? You could bust out that carton of Ben & Jerry’s or polish off your kid’s leftover birthday cake, but do you really want to do that? Probably not.
Don’t think for one second that you can’t enjoy a tasty sweet now and then. The trick is to make it a healthy one rather than those prepackaged, extra sugary (and extra fatty) goodies. See if one of these seven skinny swaps put that sweet tooth to rest:
Fruit smoothies instead of ice cream: Even low-fat or fat-free ice cream leaves a lot to be desired. After all, they have to replace the fat with something, and it’s usually more sugar. How about whipping up your own fruit smoothie complete with plenty of protein from plain, non-fat yogurt, your favorite fruits and some water or your healthy milk of choice? Just blend and drink. Of course, you can always freeze this and eat it like ice cream later on...the choice is yours. Need smoothie recipes? You're in luck! Check out our favorites!
Extra dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate: Put down those commercial chocolate bars that won’t satisfy nor help your waistline one bit. Extra dark chocolate (usually 70% or higher) is not only delicious, but it is loaded with antioxidants that can protect your body from free radicals that want to do damage to your cells. And the darker the chocolate, the more beneficial it is for you.
Homemade parfaits instead of sugary yogurt: Most parfaits are loaded with extra sugars and other not so healthy ingredients that you simply shouldn’t eat. One popular chain offers a parfait that is 310 calories and 28 grams of sugar. The best and healthiest way to enjoy a parfait is to make your own using fat-free, plain Greek yogurt, fresh fruits like berries or bananas, gluten-free oats and even some slivered almonds if you like. Top it off with some cinnamon, pure maple syrup or honey and you have yourself one protein-packed treat filled with lots of nutritious foods.
Applesauce for baking: Too much butter equals too many unnecessary calories and fat. The next time you're baking your favorite cookie, brownie or cupcake, opt for using unsweetened applesauce in lieu of fatty butters or butter substitutes.
Natural sweeteners for baking/cooking: Those pink, yellow and blue packets of artificial sweeteners are nothing more than chemicals wrapped up in pretty packages. When a recipe calls for sugar, try using a natural sweetener like pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup like your kids use), agave or raw honey. When making fresh spaghetti sauce, try adding pureed carrots instead of sugar to sweeten your sauce.
Unsweetened cocoa powder for hot cocoa: On those cold days when you want to relax with a hot cup of cocoa, instead of the prepackaged variety, add some low-fat, fat-free or any milk of your choice and unsweetened cocoa powder to a pot and boil. Pour it into your favorite mug. After that, you can add one of those natural sweeteners until the taste is to your liking.
Bananas for pancakes: You probably don’t realize just how versatile bananas can be when it comes to baking and cooking foods. Here’s one you will definitely love. Instead of using pre-made pancake mixes and batters that are filled with excess sugar, wheat and God knows what, simply puree a banana and mix it up with a few eggs or egg whites. Add a teaspoon of vanilla (or even vanilla protein powder) and about half a teaspoon of baking powder. Mix it all up and cook it as you would regular pancakes. The best way to eat these pancakes is with a dollop of melted natural peanut butter on top of course!
The next time that sweet tooth comes knocking, don’t be so quick to slam the door on it and run away. Now you have a full arsenal of better and healthier ways to satisfy it without ruining your diet or risking that fall off the clean eating wagon. Knowing that you can have your cake and eat it too is music to a sweet tooth’s ears...and taste buds.