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.

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Time to get that rowing machine revved up!

row & work interval circuit

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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.

Made Up My Mind

Well, I finally made up my mind on last night’s dinner…

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It was a Skinny Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo kinda night. Winking smile

And it was soooooo good.

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Thank goodness I had Jay to help out a bit in the kitchen, because it wound up being one of those times where all of a sudden I’m trying to whisk the sauce, roast the broccoli, cook the pasta, and check the chicken cooking on the griddler all at the same time. Whew!

Luckily, it all turned out perfectly, and we finished up shortly before watching our usual Monday night lineup: HIMYM and The Voice. HIMYM? Ehh, it was a funny episode, but what is with the weird endings? And The Voice? WOW. They were all amazing, but if I had to choose, I’d say that Trevin gets voted off. What do you guys think?

*****

Breakfast

Nothing too crazy complicated this morning. I thought about making some oatmeal (especially since I have a PB jar ready for OIAJ) but I wasn’t in the mood to stand over the stove. Instead, I stood over the toaster oven.

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Just an English muffin topped with crunchy PB, banana slices, and chia seeds. Can’t beat it.

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You guys like my festive plate and mug this morning?? Smile

So I have to head out again at some point today to pick up a few Christmas gifts, but I’m thinking I ought to leave sooner than later…my FedEx guy USUALLY doesn’t come until later, so hopefully by leaving early I won’t miss him again.

I’ll catch up with you ladies and gents later on!

Question for the Morning:

When it comes to cooking, do you prefer to do it alone? Or would you prefer some help in the kitchen (from your significant other, a parent, etc.)?

I’m always love some help when I cook…but I like to do the baking solo!

I Miss the FedEx Guy

Seriously. I was home alllll morning and early afternoon. I leave the house for all of, ohh, an hour…

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And of course, I miss the FedEx guy. Now I’m all curious as to what sort of package is headed my way that requires a signature? I’m pretty sure any packages I am waiting for certainly wouldn’t need one…but I guess we’ll have to wait and see until tomorrow!

Well, before heading out of the house for a bit this afternoon, I was able to sit down to a nice little lunch with the hubby, who came home from work to eat. I love when that happens.

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The two of us managed to finish up the last of our buffalo chicken dip from the weekend – he had his with some tortilla chips, I had mine with some carrots and celery, and a small piece of baguette.

Along with my spicy buffalo dip, I also had a pineapple Chobani mixed with half of a sliced banana and some Love Grown Foods granola.

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It was a good lunch, indeed.

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Once I got home this afternoon, I also snacked on an apple and the last remaining bran muffin half. Man, they were good while they lasted!

Now I’m working on trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and I can’t decide between three recipes:

Ohhh, what to make, what to make…what do you guys think? Winking smile

Skinny Alfredo

Do you guys remember last month when I made this delicious-looking dish?

That was probably one of the best, “healthier” alfredo sauces that I have ever tasted. Pair that with the freshly grilled chicken and roasted broccoli and holy cow, talk about an explosion of flavor.

Well, in case you’re interested in seeing the actual recipe that I used for this Skinny Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo, you can head on over to my contributor page on the Celebrations website to find out! Just CLICK HERE

Trust me, you WANT to try this…and so will any man in your life. Smile

What Is Wrong With Me?

Oh.my.gosh.

Can we talk about perfection for a quick minute? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what tonight’s evening involved in the Horan kitchen.

First, things started with some delicious Chardonnay that I sipped on while preparing dinner (it has been WAY too long since I enjoyed a glass of wine while cooking).

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Then there was this absolutely incredible dinner…along with another glass of Chardonnay.

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But about this dinner…what we’ve got right here is a healthy chicken and broccoli alfredo. Absolutely delicious.

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I initially came across this recipe in my Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine for Skinny Fettuccini Alfredo a couple of weeks ago, and Jay and I have been dying to try it ever since. Well…tonight was the night.

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I followed the directions for the sauce almost exactly, only making a few minor substitutions, but then I also added in some grilled chicken and roasted broccoli for some added protein and nutrients.

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I also still had some leftover spaghetti squash in the fridge, so I made my bowl a mix of spaghetti squash + regular spaghetti (because we actually didn’t have any fettuccini on hand).

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Jay and I are both major alfredo fans (especially him), and for being a healthier version, this dish definitely hit the spot. If you’re in the same boat as we are, then I’d totally recommend giving it a try!

And as if that wasn’t enough, I even did a little baking all while in the midst of cooking dinner.

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Would you believe that I hoard Trader Joe’s items? (You may also remember that I like to hoard gourmet English muffins too, but anyway…). So get this…

That right there is a loaf of Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread, that was made with a mix that has been in my pantry since October 24, 2010. Yes, 2010. I bought it when a group of us made a road trip out to the TJ’s is Massachusetts, and I’m actually almost a little embarrassed that I still hadn’t used it up until tonight.

Even worse? I also still have an unopened bag of Powerberries that have been in the pantry since March 27, 2011, when Jay and I made another road trip out to Massachusetts. Seriously, what is wrong with me?

Does anyone else hoard goodies from anywhere, or am I the only cool kid who caught that memo?