Healthy Alternatives to Your Favorite, Less Healthy Foods

Well hello, and happy Saturday to you all!

This morning, I have a fun post to share with you all. I’m a part of a new campaign with GNC called the “Total Lean Challenge,” which is a 12-week lifestyle program that includes nutrition, meal plans, workouts and video instruction, and community support.

For each week of the challenge, one of us is asked to share a fun new workout, along with various tips, tricks, and resources for various aspects of health and wellness. Today, my post is going to focus on one of my favorite things…

Healthy alternatives to less healthy foods

Now you guys know me…I’m a huge advocate for eating the real deal, but I also enjoy some healthier alternatives from time to time because, let’s face it…if we indulged in the real deal ALL the time, then we’d probably be feeling pretty crappy, sluggish, and blah.

So let’s start with pizza, for example.

Pizza is probably one of the biggest calorie bombs out there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it in other ways! Try making a “crust” out of a whole wheat pita or tortilla. Top with some sauce, a bunch of your favorite veggies (for an added nutritional boost) some protein (chicken sausage for me!), and a little mozzarella cheese. Easy as pizza pie. Winking smile

Another favorite comfort food of mine would most definitely have to be a big bowl of chicken and broccoli alfredo. Because I mean, really…what’s not to love?

But thankfully, there a ton of healthy swaps you can make:

  • Most traditional alfredo sauces come loaded with heavy cream and cheese. Try using my skinny alfredo sauce, which swaps in healthy Greek yogurt for much of the heavy stuff.
  • Bulk up the good stuff (i.e., the chicken and the broccoli) which are both going to give you the most nutritional value.
  • Make smart choices with your pasta…stick with an actual serving (then load up on the other stuff!) and opt for whole wheat.
  • Looking to cut back on the carbs? Swap in spaghetti squash for your pasta. It’s just as delicious (and is in the photo above).

So what about sweets??

Well, as you guys probably know…I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Winking smile You can count on me having some sort of sweet almost daily, but I also have a few favorites that aren’t quite as loaded in the calorie department.

For example, my Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I probably make these at least once ever 1-2 months, and they are not only easy, but super tasty, too. The mashed banana helps you cut back on added fats, and they’re just as delicious when made with whole wheat flour and good quality dark chocolate. They’re also soft, more like little muffins than cookies, but they are great at satisfying a sweet tooth.

Another new favorite evening dessert of mine would have to be this little concoction.

While I don’t think they’ll ever be anything better than a bowl of ice cream, this little dessert is certainly a great substitution. Just mix a container of Greek yogurt of choice (I like vanilla), mix in about a tablespoon of peanut butter, and top with about a tablespoon of chocolate chips (you can also feel free to crumble some TJ’s cat cookies like me). Winking smile

I first got this idea from Colleen, and have been loving it ever since. It’s SO good!

Another favorite? “Wouldn’t Know They’re Healthy” Blueberry Muffins. Trust me on this one…they’re amazing.

And finally, one last favorite of mine (which can arguably be labeled “healthy” depending on what you define as healthy), are these soda cupcakes.

Rather than add in all the oil and eggs, you simply mix a box of your favorite cake mix with 12oz. of your favorite diet soda (like I said…these could be argued as healthy…I don’t judge either way!). Be sure to check out this post for some delicious cake + soda combos.

Lots of good ideas for you there…hopefully you find one you like!

Last but not least, as a part of this week’s Total Lean Challenge, may I present to you your Saturday Workout Plan.


Time to get that rowing machine revved up!

row & work interval circuit


Question for the Morning:

What are some of YOUR favorite healthy alternatives to less healthy foods?

Disclaimer: Fitfluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.


  1. says

    Lately my favorite evening snack has been plain rice cakes with “frosting.” I mix about 1 tbsp peanut butter + 1/2 a scoop chocolate protein powder + a splash of almond milk until it resembles frosting. Then spread it on 2 rice cakes, and if I’m feeling really crazy, a sprinkle of granola or raisins. It’s SO good and tastes so decadent – almost like dessert! :)
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Fitness Friday Catch-Up

  2. Pickyrunner says

    Sometimes I just want the real deal but I’ve found that substitute apple sauce or lighter ingredients can still offer a pretty good flavor that I like. Some of these are great tips although I’m a firm believer in true moderation. If I want mac and cheese, I’m going to eat it and not worry about whether or not it has a few extra calories.

  3. says

    Great swaps!! I love your skinny alfredo – it’s a great alternative to the high calorie stuff. I need to try your blueberry muffins too! Both Cody and I love blueberry muffins, so I’m sure they’ll be a favorite.
    I also like to use applesauce to lower the amount of butter or oil in baked goods or to use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayo.
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..02/08/13: Fitness Friday

  4. says

    Your banana chocolate chip cookies are one of my all-time favorite “healthier” cookie recipes. Whenever I make them people are always shocked to hear what they are made out of. I love that. The majority of time I bake I use either applesauce, Greek yogurt, pumpkin, or pureed black beans to substitute for the fats. The product ends up even fudgier than the original recipe. Extra fudgy brownies? Yes please!
    Melanie @ Beatifully Nutty recently posted..Cabbage Roll Casserole–Give it a Chance!

  5. says

    Thanks so much for sharing these great healthy food alternatives! Some favorites of mine include: spaghetti squash in place of pasta, “riced” cauliflower in place of rice, mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes, and beans/veggies in place of meat. And if we are talking snacks, I am currently obsessed with Pop Chips. They totally satisfy my chip craving, but I don’t have to feel guilty about eating them It’s a win-win :).
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..Bourbon Tofu and Vegetables Over Whole Brown Rice

  6. says

    I love finding healthy alternatives…For baking, I like to sub applesauce, mashed banana, and pumpkin puree for butters and some oils…We love having pizza for dinners, and I always make our own crust so there aren’t any wonky ingredients in there (love using almond meal instead of flour too).
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..Friday Random

  7. says

    I love zucchini noodles and quickly blanch them for an amazing much more noodle like texture! :) Mashed banana works wonders in baking and rather than just focusing on cutting calories I just choose wholefoods so instead of oil or butter in baking I use nut butter or tahini or even coconut butter as opposed to oil! Banana softserve is an amazing ice cream alternative especially with nut butter stirred through!
    Shel@PeachyPalate recently posted..Energising Food & Nutrients

  8. says

    I totally agree that you should be able to enjoy anything that you want, but in moderation! And healthy alternatives to make those “heavier” favorites are always appreciated :) One of my fave subs is applesauce in sweet breads that call for oil… I’ve been meaning to try subbing Greek yogurt- I’ve heard it’s great!

  9. says

    good thing i’m reading this now as i pigged out on a large fries (which i NEVER do) and a McFlurry (again, which i NEVER do) at McD’s today. it’s been a stressful couple of days and i just felt like i needed it (which of course i didn’t but i’m an emotional eater and that side of it won the argument today!)

    one of my favorite EASY sweet tooth treats is to take a few bananas and slice them up and put in the freezer for about an hour. take them out, put them in the blender and wala…one ingredient ice cream!!! you can add cocoa powder if you want chocolate flavor. my kids love it!!! and honestly, it is better than the McFlurry!!!
    colleen @ thegiftofmondays recently posted..i know how it feels to be broken

  10. says

    I love this!!! I dropped 45lbs since last May by eating the real deal on my favorite foods, but I still have about 50 more pounds I need to lose and it’s time I change things up. I’ve been at a plateau since November and while I fully believe in “everything in moderation,” I have noticed that sometimes eating the real things all the times leaves me feeling sluggish, bloated and just play gross. I’m saving all of these ideas, thanks again :)
    Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily recently posted..Snow,Pinewood Derby and a Challenge

  11. says

    I think my creations are quite healthy. The base is chobani 0% and oats, then I add in chopped fruit, dark choc chips and whatever else does my fancy. I get to knock over a bunch of cravings, balance out the sugar so not to get a sugar high, good protein, fibre, wholegrains and much more filling then your average ice cream!
    Bek @ Crave recently posted..Beach Weekend Photos

  12. says

    I love your healthy alternatives! I love to make a “clean” ice cream dessert. To make: blend about 1 cup almond/coconut milk, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 T peanut butter, a spoonful cocoa powder, and stevia to taste. I usually add some walden farms chocolate or caramel syrup and some sprinkles at the end. This just needs to sit in the freezer for about 30 min and its ice cream! Trust me, you cannot taste the cottage cheese (i dont like cc)
    Jenna @ Crazy Healthy Fit recently posted..I’ve been M.I.A


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