When people think of healthy eating, they think that they’re limited to salad leaves, vegetables, grilled chicken, tuna, and rice cakes all washed down with copious amounts of water. Whilst all of the above are indeed very healthy and beneficial for us, they don’t really taste that great and if the thought of sitting down to yet another boiled chicken breast salad with extra vegetables is filling you with feelings of dread and making you crave something greasy and unhealthy, you’re never going to make it in the long run, and if you do, and you do manage to stick on plan and lose weight, you’ll make yourself absolutely miserable in the process. Rather than driving yourself crazy and choking down plate after plate of food that tastes more like cardboard than actual food, why not look for healthy alternatives to some of your favourite foods instead? Remember, pretty much every meal imaginable can be made far healthier with a little tweaking, and to help get this point across, here are four healthy alternatives to processed junk food so that you can treat yourself now and then and enjoy foods you crave, without feeling guilty or undoing all of your previous hard work.

Pitta bread pizza

Pitta Bread Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Pizza is one of the most simple yet most delicious foods on the planet, yet unfortunately the pizzas that many of us know and love are incredibly unhealthy and bad for us. They’re made from processed sugary white flour dough, which is enriched with extra oil and sugar, the tomato sauce is loaded full of salt and sugar, and then of course you have the cheese itself. When you tuck into a freshly baked pizza, the pizza itself is literally swimming in grease, so obviously it is not a diet-friendly food, and that’s before you add fatty cuts of meat to the mix. Pizza lovers need not despair however, because there are a number of healthy alternatives to pizza, with one of the most popular recipes being a wholemeal pitta bread pizza. You basically take a wholemeal pitta bread, add a little tomato paste, puree, or salsa, add a few crunchy veggies, crumble over a few blocks of low-fat feta or goat’s cheese, and grill for a couple of minutes. The wholemeal pitta bread is full of fiber and B vitamins, the tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, the veggies add even more vitamins and minerals, and if you opt for a low fat cheese, you get the protein and calcium, without the unhealthy fats. You can even add some grilled chicken or various other meats to increase the protein content.

Homemade French fries

Although they’re incredibly basic and simple to make, the French fries you see in fast food chains and various restaurants are notoriously unhealthy. The potatoes are sliced thinly, which instantly increases their surface area. This is a big problem because it means that the increased surface area allows them to absorb more oil than usual. The fries are of course fried in fat or oil, and subsequently absorb a great deal more than if they’d been left thicker. Then for good measure, they’re covered in far too much salt which can lead to high blood pressure and even a heart attack. If you enjoy French fries however, you can make them at home in a much, much healthier way. Remember, French fries in their raw state are healthy, as they’re just sliced potatoes. Slice a couple of potatoes thinly and leave the skins on for added crispness and taste. Next, place on a baking tray, give them a very light spray with olive oil, and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them before baking until crispy. Cooking them in this way makes them virtually fat free, and the fat that they will contain from the small mist of olive oil spray is healthy anyways. Serve with grilled meat, fish, or anything else for that matter.

Homemade cheese burgers

Homemade Cheese Burgers

Cheeseburgers are arguably the king of the fast food industry and are certainly one of the first foods we think of when we think of fast food. The problem is that they’re served on a white bread bun full of sugar and flour, the burgers themselves are full of fat as they’re made from fatty cuts of meat, and then there’s the heavily processed plastic-looking cheese that contains far too much fat. You can make an incredibly delicious alternative in the comfort of your own kitchen however, and it’s very easy. Simply take some of the leanest steak mince you can find, add a handful of chopped onions, a whole egg, some mustard, and some seasoning and give everything a good mix before shaping into burger patties. Take the patties and grill them, preferably on a barbeque for an even better taste and no added fat. In the meantime, take a wholemeal brown bun, spread the base with natural Greek yoghurt, add some shredded lettuce and a slice of tomato and add a little tomato relish to the top of the other bun. When the burger is nearly cooked, take a slice of low fat cheese such as goats cheese of feta cheese, and place it on top of the patty and let it melt slightly. Transfer the patty to the burger bun and enjoy. For the ultimate healthy “cheat” meal, serve with homemade baked French fries. This meal is ideal because it’s low in fat, it’s rich in protein, you can add extra salad to increase the nutrients, and of course you have the added benefits of the wholemeal burger bun, which provides fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, and more.

Protein pancakes

Pancakes for breakfast are a real treat, yet they’re unfortunately loaded full of sugar, fat, and processed white flour, not to mention often served with sugary syrups and butter. For healthy protein pancakes however, simply take a scoop or two of a good quality protein powder, add to around 30 grams of powdered oats, add a whole egg and add a little water and natural yoghurt, before giving the mixture a good blend until it’s thick and runny. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium flame, and cook them as you would ordinary pancakes. Serve with fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey, and a scoop of natural Greek yoghurt for the ultimate healthy breakfast. You of course get the protein from the protein powder, which promotes muscle growth and repair as well as cell health and function, but on top of that, you get the slow-release carbs from the oats, B vitamins, and additional vitamins from the fresh fruit, along with more protein from the yoghurt, and extra calcium as well.

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