Junk food substitutes

We all know that we need to cut down on our junk food consumption. But after growing up with treats and celebrations at fast-food restaurants, it can be hard to get rid of those cravings! Here are some ways to train your taste buds away from junk food while honouring that little voice inside that says you deserve a break today.

Chocolate shake

You can use frozen yogurt at home to make a shake and that’s a great start. But another way to get the same feel and close to the same taste is to try a banana smoothie. First, throw bananas that are getting overripe into the freezer — just as they are. Then when you have a craving for a shake, put one and a half cups of skim milk, one frozen banana (slice into chunks and then peel; it makes it easier to get the frozen skin off), a splash of vanilla, and a tablespoon of chocolate syrup into the blender. You can also add a few shakes of cinnamon for a bit more kick to the drink.


This greasy Canadian favourite can be a heart stopper! But there’s a way to get a similar experience without the grease — top baked potato with mushroom gravy and part-skim mozzarella cheese. In fact, “jacket potatoes”, or baked potato with various toppings, are fast-food in England. Once you’ve adjusted to poutine that way, try other healthy toppings like chopped tomato and chives, broccoli with a touch of cheddar cheese, or your preferred salsa.

Easy mushroom gravy recipe:
3/4 cup white or button mushrooms, chopped
1 small yellow or white onion, minced
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp poultry seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each of sage, thyme and marjoram)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt butter or margarine and add onion and mushrooms. Sauté for just a minute or two over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add broth and soy sauce. Slowly add flour, stirring well to combine and prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a simmer or a low boil, then reduce heat. Add poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, stirring consistently. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until gravy thickens.

Chips and dip

Of course you can simply substitute raw vegetables for chips and indulge in the dip, and you’re away to the races indeed… but it doesn’t quite meet the craving for a carbohydrate-loaded treat. Here we use healthier olive oil and whole wheat pita bread to make the chips. If you dip into hummus you’ll also be adding chick peas into your diet, which are a great source of fiber. If you’re still hooked on the traditional onion dip, try substituting yoghurt for the sour cream to increase probiotics in your diet — or at least use the lower-fat sour cream!

12 whole wheat pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut pitas into 8 wedges each; place on cookie sheet. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and brush over pita wedges. Bake for 8-10 min.

Chocolate cake

Admittedly this recipe preserves some of the fat of the original, with vegetable oil, chocolate chips, and whole eggs — but at least there’s zucchini in it, and no trans-fats! Pack slices to substitute for chocolate treats on the go.

2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated
zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in the flour baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean.

Hopefully these recipes will inspire you to come up with your own substitutes for those late-afternoon cravings.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Antonio Muñoz Palomares

Is fasting good for you?
Eat healthy, even when dining out
Foods to put you in the mood