Junk food substitutes

Tricks to train your taste buds away from junk food.

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 chive, 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 the 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. Allow to 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