Junk food is a part of any diet. We all like to indulge, but many everyday foods can be given nutritional makeovers that are convenient, fast, and delicious. Here are six ways you can clean up those favourite standbys.
1. Bacon and eggs: If you are going to enjoy bacon, look for an organic free range source, where the animals are treated well and there is no anti-biotic use. It is okay to enjoy almost anything, as long as it is in moderation. Cook your bacon on a rack over a cookie sheet in the oven, so the fat drains off, leaving you with crisp, flat bacon perfect for many type of meals. Be careful with bacon substitutes, as the often contain additives, preservatives and colors. Also, avoid high-heat cooking, as this increases carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines. Another way to decrease the formation of nitrosamines is to eat your bacon with a fruit or vegetable high in vitamin C (like red peppers or oranges). For eggs, go local, and look for free run varieties: smaller farms tend to treat chickens with more care than large industries.
2. Store-bought muffins: Some muffins can contain as much as 780 calories (around half of what the average person needs in a day)-think about that before you buy that walnut muffin on your morning coffee run! Instead, make muffins at home on the weekend and then refrigerate or freeze to be used on-the-go. Use higher nutrient flours like buckwheat, spelt, and millet and top with oats to get the most out of your whole grains. You can also use, coconut oil, apple sauce or bananas in place of vegetable oil or canola in recipes for a much healthier treat.
3. Hamburgers and French fries: French fries are high in a compound called acrylamide, which has unknown (but potentially negative) effects on human health. If you are making fries at home, soak potatoes before roasting them, and store the in a cool, dry place that is dark to prevent sprouting. You can also bale them in the oven with a coating of coconut oil to create a healthier result. Better yet, try yams instead of potatoes! For hamburgers, use free range bison or grass-fed beef in replacement of grain-fed beef. Also be sure to use plenty of vegetables as a topping and serve with a salad.
4. Chocolate milkshakes: you can make your own chocolate milkshake at home: use raw cacao and dates to sweeten, and add frozen fruit with a handful of leafy greens (like spinach, kale, or chard) to give this “treat” drink a nutritional gold star.
5. Pizza: Cauliflower, Zucchini, Pita bread, or whole-wheat tortillas help to make the crust healthier. Use sugar-free tomato sauce(organic spaghetti sauce works well) or coconut cream to cut down on sugar and unnecessary fats. Another way to make the toppings healthier is to use chicken sausage (like chorizo or Italian), nuts, or black beans. Try different vegetables on pizza like chard, kale, arugula, and eggplant, and add crumbled goat cheese to give pizza a zesty and healthy makeover. As for the cheese, look for an organic variety and use a little less than usual.
6. Popcorn: Most people buy microwaveable popcorn but don’t realize that many brands are full of artery-clogging trans fats, extremely high amounts of salt, artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives. And the bag is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid, a substance that we don’t know the full effects of yet (but is listed as a carcinogen by the EPA). A better option is to buy dry popcorn kernels and use coconut oil on a large pot on the stove: add flavour by using sea salt, cinnamon, turmeric, or chili powder.