As I’ve mentioned many times over the past year here on the blog, one of my keys to becoming a healthier, happier me has been finding healthy meals, snacks and treats that I actually really like. It makes steering clear of McDonalds and bags of chips so much easier if I can reward myself with healthy treats that I really look forward to.
I thought I’d share a few of my current favourites:
My friend Brenda introduced me to the Asian Pear several years ago, and it has honestly been my saving grace. I was never a huge fruits & veggies fan, but one fruit that I’ve always loved was the apple. In my teen years, I developed an allergy to apples that has only worsened as I’ve gotten older. What used to be a mildly itchy mouth has now developed into full-blown throat-swelling, itchy tongue, itchy swelling lips… it’s nasty. So I haven’t been able to enjoy my favourite fruit in years. Brenda once asked if I’d ever tried an Asian Pear – very much like an apple in shape & appearance, yet more like a pear in texture. I gave it a shot, and lo & behold – no reaction. The only bad part is that Asian Pears only seem to appear in produce sections this time of year, so I’m eating as many of them as I can these days!
Plain Greek Yogurt…with a twist!
The very first week of my eating healthy project last winter, I accidentally picked up a container of plain fat-free Greek Yogurt, instead of my usual vanilla flavour. The first morning I ate it, I added some honey and cut up kiwi, and it tasted like barf. I whined about it on Facebook, and many of my friends made suggestions as to how to improve the taste, and encouraged me to continue using it rather than the sweetened vanilla or fruit versions – adding my own natural sweeteners is a far better option. I’ve never looked back. I love it (my favourite brand is Liberte) with a teaspoon of Epicure’s Cran-Apple cheese ball seasoning added to it, and I dip slices of my Asian Pears in it. Or with a teaspoon of brown sugar and grapes mixed in. Or as a substitute for sour cream (especially with veggie fajitas). A few spoonfuls give an extra creaminess to a shake. I’ve made peace with the plain Greek Yogurt. We’ve become friends.
OK, so this isn’t exactly a “treat”. It’s spinach. Nothing treat-like about it. But I’ve also learned that spinach is pretty disguisable, and I’ve learned to throw it in to things like soups, sauces, pizza, smoothies, and as a base for salads. When it comes to spinach, I’ve friggin’ become Popeye the Sailor Man!!
Veggie Pita Pizza with Garlic Dipping Sauce
I’m a pizza fan, plain & simple. And I still treat myself to “real” pizza regularly. But I’ve also become a big fan of my veggie pita pizzas. I use a Greek-style whole wheat pita bread (it has no pocket), cover it in sauce or pesto, load it up with my favourite veggies (usually onions, olives, tomatoes, hot peppers, spinach, and avocado), a sprinkling of cheese (goat cheese is my fave), and voila! 15 minutes in the oven, and I’ve got my very own little personal-pan serving of amazingness. If I’m really in the mood for a treat, I whip up a little of the Epicure Garlic Aioli – using low-fat mayo and extra virgin olive oil – which cuts the calories of my favourite Pizza Pizza garlic dipping sauce BIG time.
I’ve only been using PB2 for a little over a week now, but boy, am I ever loving it!! It is essentially just peanuts that have been stripped of their oils (and thus, their calories) and ground down to a fine powder. Do you know what this stuff does? It takes my regular ol’ Vanilla Shakeology from a nice but rather plain-tasting shake to something that tastes like a freakin’ PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE. Just by adding ONE Tablespoon, at 25 calories. Heaven.in.my.mouth. I’m told it turns the Chocolate Shakeology into a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup. I haven’t experimented all the much otherwise with it, but I did mix a tablespoon with water to try it as an actual Peanut Butter substitute, and I thought it tasted pretty good. I’m looking forward to trying it out in other ways in the weeks to come. It’s pretty pricey stuff, but it goes a long way, and just having it to enhance the flavour of my Vanilla shake makes it worthwhile for me!
Yummy Salad Add-Ins
One of my goals when I initially embarked on my “30 Before 30 Project” was to learn to love salad. And I admit, it is one of the few goals that I have seriously struggled with. Given the option, I never go with salad. But many of my friends have recommended adding things to the salad that I love, which will make me enjoy it more. And it actually works. If I know my spinach salad is going to be topped with a few pecans, some shredded carrot, tomato, onion, a sprinkling of Craisins, a chopped hard-boiled egg, and a drizzling of balsamic vinaigrette… well, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Summer Fresh Hummus
In the past, I never really “got” hummus. I didn’t understand why people liked it so much. I tried it with raw veggies, I tried it with crackers, I tried it with pita… it just didn’t do anything for me. This past summer, though, my sister picked up a container of Carmelized Onion Hummus and it was amazeballs. Since then, I’ve started trying out different flavours, and my current addiction is a few tablespoons of Summer Fresh Hummus (this week’s flavour is Spicy Chili Peppers – YUM) with carrot sticks. A substantial, healthy snack with lots of zing… and I can now say I LOVE hummus!
Hearty, Healthy Soups
It’s been my addiction this winter. On my Mondays off, I’ve made big pots of soup to enjoy for dinner all week long. I’ve made everything from my tried-and-true Fat Flush Soup (tastes like Chili, and it works!!), to Potato Leek Soup (the Skinnytaste version was quite as thick, but still full of flavour), to this week’s Beefy Macaroni Tomato Soup (not as healthy as some of the others, but a bowl sure does make a meal!) I have SO been enjoying soup on this cold winter nights!
Creamy Dill Potato Thins
I’ve eyed these up on the shelves in the store for months, but only picked them up for the first time last week because they were on sale (and they didn’t have my favourite PC Roasted Garlic & Herb Pita Crisps) – I had a little bowlful on Sunday night when my niece and nephew slept over and we had a movie night. I admit to being skeptical - “chip alternatives” are never as good as the real thing - but I was pleasantly surprised. They are definitely the closest I have come to an actual dill pickle chip (one of my favourite chip flavours) – and although I wouldn’t treat myself with them every day, they are certainly a worthy substitute for special occasions when chips are required!! ;) I’m honestly contemplating picking up a few different flavours for my Old-School Movie Marathon Day instead of the chips I intended to treat myself with!
Well, there we have it… a list of my current favourite healthy eats & treats! I really need to remind myself of these treats as I brace myself for the weekend ahead, and my promise to myself to be strong and have a cheat-free weekend.
Can I do it? Only time will tell. But I’m up for the challenge, and these items listed above will certainly help me out! :)