Make better pizza
I know the standard response here is to make a trendy cauliflower crust pizza — however making a cauliflower crust is cumbersome as fuck and a healthy recipe does no good if you won’t actually use it often. What you’ll make every day is more important than what you will make once in awhile. When I am craving pizza I make a 10 minute version of it that hits all the same flavors and textures, but with less of the calories.
Buy yourself some Flatout wraps, they are made without white flour so they are much better for you than regular pizza crust. They are also pretty big, so once you get the toppings on and bake it, it will be a very satisfying light meal.
Spoon some pizza sauce (or if you’re lazy like me, whatever spaghetti sauce I have in my fridge) onto the crust, add a small amount of cheese (less than in the photo, at least) and veggies and meat (if you want). On top sprinkle a bit of dried rosemary or basil from a shaker. Bake it for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Et voila!
Satisfy cravings with better versions of junk foods
There’s something about the texture of zucchini that’s so pleasant when it’s well cooked. It’s the perfect interior for a fried item — and you honestly won’t miss the minimal difference between fried and baked here. Just cut up the zucchini according to your preference (rectangles or circles), dip in egg yolk and then press into the breading. I use Panko. I recently tried coconut flour instead and it was gross (but I am going to use the rest to make coconut noodles from scratch, unclear if this will be delicious or disgusting). Bake, and then eat while they are hot.
I’m told the trick with breading is to keep one hand wet (egg yolk) and one hand dry (breading) but I honestly have not mastered this yet and this is one of the messier/more annoying recipes I use. But the results are so yummy and really satisfy fried food cravings, so I preserve.
Alternatively, cut something like watermelon, cantaloupe, or cucumbers into spears and pretend like they are just more flavorful fries:
Turn fresh spinach into a smoothie so it doesn’t feel like you’re consuming fresh spinach
I think fresh spinach is healthy so I try to eat a lot of it but eating a lot of fresh spinach and other leafy greens sort of sucks. It’s laborious, time consuming, messy, and there isn’t that much reward — spinach tastes sort of like dirt and a lot of other leafy greens sort of just taste like watered down dirt. I am not trying to diss leafy greens or the taste of dirt but I’m saying that trying to eat a good portion of leafy greens every day, sometimes you don’t really have the time for that and it can be kind of hard.
I have found that putting a handful of spinach in water + ice + watermelon or pineapple, or spinach + ice + watermelon juice or pineapple juice and making a smoothie out of it makes it so I barely taste the spinach and allows me to more easily funnel the spinach into my body. The less ingredients there are the easier it is to funnel into your body. You can even just make a smoothie from water and spinach and drink it really fast for the straight funneling effect. It’s quick and painless.
Make your own salad dressing
When you are trying to eat healthy, salad dressing becomes very tricky. Some people are lucky and love the taste of balsamic vinaigrettes or don’t need dressing at all (???). I need a little something on those greens but regular dressings are soooo high calorie and high fat and the low-fat/cal versions just dump a bunch of sugar into the recipe. There’s basically no middle ground.
I started making my own salad dressing using sour cream as a base (it is a healthy fat with less calories and no sugar). Use 2 tablespoons and then add in 2 tablespoons of Newman’s Own basalmic vinaigrette and just stir them together, the consistency will be just like a nice creamy dressing that tastes amazing and only ingredients you are happy to eat.
Eat balanced meals that fill you up
“Eat more” seems counterproductive, but when you eat as many veggies as you are supposed to, you aren’t hungry and tempted by empty snacks.
I really like tacos because you can make them the perfectly balanced meal (according to the dietician who invented it for me, at least):
1 carb (Flatout wrap)
1 dairy/fat (2 tbsp sour cream)
1 protein/fat (4oz beef, with taco seasoning)
4 veggie servings (fresh spinach, frozen pepper mix)
1 fruit (applesauce pouch, not pictured)
The trick with tacos is to make them more filling, so you are happy with one good one. Always make a vegetable side since that helps fill you up, frozen bags are basically as good for you as fresh as long as you don’t microwave them. For shells, I am a big advocate of the Flatout wraps and they are more filling than little white flour tortillas. I also use full fat sour cream. This whole meal honestly feels like a huge feast when you eat it, but it’s just what a meal is supposed to be.
A healthier version of Chinese food can help you get on track
My trick for when my eating habits have been bad and I need to get myself back on track is always stir fry. It’s basically just eating a pile of vegetables and lean protein — but somehow, so much more delicious than that sounds. I’ll make 2-3 meals worth at one time (depending on how much you eat). Two bags of whichever kinds of frozen vegetables you like (I use two different stir fry blends) and three chicken breasts baked plain in the oven and then stirred in with the veggies. No rice, you’ll find you don’t really need it since everything else is so good and filling on it’s own.
The tricky part is to find a sauce to mix in with it that is both delicious and not crazy in calories/sugar/sodium/chemicals. If you want an easy meal, this one is one of the better ones. If you have more time make your own with soy sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, and chicken stock.
Squeeze an orange slice on top if you miss the sweetness of high calorie sauces.
This one is just soy sauce and Sriracha mixed with veggies and protein:
Fake the act of eating chips and dip
Okay, you are going to have to trust me here but I think a good chips and dip replacement is broccoli and peanut butter. I bake a bunch of broccoli until it is kind of crispy in some places and then make a dipping sauce by putting 4 tbsp peanut butter and 1/2 cup water in a dish and microwaving for 1 min. When it comes out stir it until the consistency is good and add as much Sriracha as you like (I add until it turns slightly pink).
Peanut butter is high in fat/calories so this is more of a meal than a snack, but it’s pretty guilt free to eat a big pile of broccoli. The act of dipping and the textures of these two things hits all the same notes for me as chips and dip.
Do this when you’re really craving fried chicken
This is my favorite recipe ever. It’s SO delicious and so much better for you than chicken fingers.
Buy a box of a Honey Bunches of Oats or similar cerial. Put a cup of it in a ziploc bag and crush it up with your fist or a non-fragile cup. Spread the mixture out over a plate.
Get a fresh chicken breast or thaw one. Dip it in egg yolk. Press each side into the cereal mixture.
Bake and serve with Bolthouse Honey Mustard dressing.
Do this instead of drinking soda
I seriously was like, a Charlize Theron in Young Adult level soda addict for awhile. It’s not unhealthy per se, because diet soda doesn’t have calories. This made it harder to stop drinking it, because I always felt like I had bigger fish to fry. But it’s really bad for you, and I think it does messed up things to your blood sugar (like spike it so you crave food).
I bought a soda stream for $50 off Craigslist and started making my own carbonated drinks since that was the part that I really liked about soda. I started with carbonated water mixed with the soda stream mixes you can buy at the grocery store (it ended up being like, a zero calorie sparkling crystal light) and then I moved down to carbonated water with a lemon squeezed into it, and now I just drink plain sparkling water all day. Being able to make to make it at home whenever I wanted and have a very comparable texture made it a non-issue to kick my habit.
Now I drink as much water as I’m supposed to every single day. I have a checklist where I note things everyday like “ate 8 servings of vegetables”, “slept 8 hours”, and “exercised.” Some of the categories are hard to check off everyday but knowing there’s at least one (water) where I’m acing it feels good.