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Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food

June 4th, 2013 Healthy Living

Snacking in between meals keeps us energized and speeds up our metabolisms, and for most of us, junk food (the often preferred snack) is both delicious and addicting. Unfortunately, eating too much can lead to health problems. But that doesn't mean you should cut out snacking - instead, replace your favorite junk foods with these healthy alternatives!

Bite-sized berries' sweetness makes them an appropriate substitute for desserts, and the many nutrients they carry makes them healthy enough to eat daily. Use them to garnish a dish or mix them into a smoothie. Frozen berries make a good alternative to ice cream and are available year-round, cost less and last longer.

Trail mix usually has granola for a reason - it gives you a boost of energy and helps maintain your heart health. The trick is to buy a kind that's low in sugar and fats. Try to find a granola that contains a lot of oats, nuts and seeds. Granola can be eaten on its own, used in trail mix, mixed in with yogurt or eaten with milk to replace a sugary breakfast cereal.

Kale chips
Get the saltiness of potato chips without the fat and preservatives with kale chips. Kale chips are incredibly easy to make, but they're also available in stores. To make them, simply get any kind of kale you like, rinse the leaves off and let them dry completely. Then separate the leaves and mix them with a small amount of olive oil and your choice of seasoning (classic kale chips just have salt and pepper, but you're not limited to this). Next, lay them out on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees until they're crispy. Kale chips will satisfy your salt craving while delivering vitamins A, C, B and K, iron, calcium and fiber.

Yogurt can be eaten for a full meal or as a snack. It's a much healthier breakfast than bacon and eggs, has just as much protein and helps your digestive system. Mix it with berries or granola for an extra healthy snack or freeze it to make a popsicle. There are also smoothies and dips that can be made with yogurt. Try making a dip by mixing a package of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, less than 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon of dill weed with an electric mixer at medium speed. Be sure to check the ingredients on your yogurt to make sure that it's low in fat and sugar.

Rice cakes
The healthiest processed foods are usually the ones with the fewest ingredients, and rice cakes only have two: water and rice. But it's also okay to get rice cakes with flavor, such as cheese or salt, as they're usually a lot tastier. Try buying plain rice cakes and spreading low-fat peanut butter on them for a crunchy snack with some protein.

Remember ants on a log? Parents spread cream cheese or peanut butter on celery and top it with raisins to create a fun and healthy snack for their kids. Luckily, there's no age limit to this treat. Celery is known for being a negative-calorie food, because chewing it burns more calories than it contains. Top the water-based vegetable with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese for a yummy snack to munch on. You can also buy or make various dips to add flavor. Try it with the yogurt dip mentioned above.

Happy snacking!