31 Jan Reshaping Junk Food
An article from Canadian Science Publishing recently reported a decline in children’s consumption of milk at a Canadian school system once the school eliminated a childhood favorite, chocolate milk. Milk is necessary for proper growth and development, and flavored milks are often more appealing to kids (and adults!).
Chocolate milk is believed to be unhealthy due to its added sugar content; however, this is definitely not the case. Chocolate milk is a great source of calcium and acts as the perfect fuel for post-workout. Thus, both adults and kids will benefit from a glass of chocolate milk.
Rather than banning “kids” foods, make sure you are aware of the possible benefits, like those found in chocolate milk.
For snacks that really may be junk, reshape them into an alternative that promotes a healthy lifestyle and satisfies those childhood cravings. It’s hard to say goodbye…instead focus on a new beginning. And of course, splurging on the real deal now and then is perfectly acceptable. You deserve it!
For Chips: We all love a bag of salty, crispy chips every now and then. I remember snacking on a box of goldfish or pringles after school when I was younger, and though I have reduced the allotment with age, the cravings still exist. While eating chips every day is not a great idea, look to individual bags—portions are key—of healthier options to savor. Stick to 150 calories or below and check the label for fats and sodium. Choose brands that are low in those regions.
My go-to list includes pop chips, quest protein chips and Skinny pop popcorn.
For Chocolate Chip Cookies: I always had a chocolate chip cookie for dessert inside my lunch box, and when I came home from school I would grab a few Oreos before starting my schoolwork. If you can’t resist a cookie, limit yourself to one or opt for a chocolate chip cookie with nuts or granola inside, as it will provide more nutrition and fill you up. If you want to go even further, swap a cookie for a serving of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and is said to promote longevity. Also, people who consume dark chocolate are less likely to have excess sugar cravings and be overweight.
My favorites include chocolate chip cookies from Ginny Bakes and Tates. As for dark chocolate, I love Vosges’ specialty flavors and Green and Black’s Organic Dark chocolate.
For PB & J: Upgrade this childhood staple by replacing the white bread with whole grain or wheat. I love Rudi’s whole grain & flax seed bread—it is hearty and nutritious. Also, say goodbye to the jelly, as it merely adds excess sugar. As for the PB, indulge without guilt. Peanut butter is an excellent source of healthy fats and protein and is great for pre or post workout. However, find a brand that is natural or freshly ground, like from the grinder at a Whole Foods Market.
I always prefer the freshly ground peanut and almond butter from Whole Foods, but if you must choose from the shelf, I love MaraNatha Organic no stir peanut butter and Smuckers Natural.
For Juice: Put down the orange and apple juice cups—they are filled with sugar! Have a glass of fresh squeezed OJ or grapefruit juice with your breakfast, or have pressed juice instead. There are tons of pressed juices that are all natural without added sugars. Many contain carrots, beets, apples, bananas, and leafy greens, all of which are high in polyphenols to keep your body in tip-top shape. If you can’t handle an all-vegetable medley, look for one with apple, pear or lemon to add a bit of sweetness.
My favorites are Organic Avenue’s Medicinal Green and Green Love juices, Whole Foods’ freshly prepared juices, and Evolution Fresh’s Essential Greens with Lime, found conveniently at Starbucks locations.
For Cereal: The easiest breakfast imaginable; yet, unrealistic with recommended portion sizes and heavily carbohydrate concentrated. Get rid of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs, as expected, but also maybe re-think the Special K and Raisin Brand. Take out a measuring cup and see what ½-1 cup serving (relative to what is listed on the label)—shocking right? Check out the number of carbs you are actually eating, and paired with OJ, fruit or a flavored coffee? That’s right. So, use portion control and choose cereals low in total carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber.
Cheerios and puffed wheat are good options, and if you want some added sweetness, add a packet of stevia to the milk or some fresh berries.
For French Fries: I have never met a person who did not like fries, because well, they are delicious in every way imaginable. Unfortunately, that deliciousness comes with fat, salt and grease. Eat those daily and they will clog your arteries, promote water retention and increase your cholesterol levels. Reshape the fry: roast sliced carrots, zucchini and sweet potato at home and package them in baggie servings to enjoy in moderation. With less fat and salt, these fries are still tasty and rich in vitamins.
I love to add garlic, herbs and spices to carrot and zucchini fries for an extra kick. I also love dipping them in a yogurt-dill tzatziki sauce for a creamy, tart-like flavor.
Now you try it! Think of your favorite childhood treats and find ways to make them a healthy and enjoyable part of your diet. Give your go-to foods a makeover—you may even find you like the revamped versions more!