4 Healthy Snack Alternatives for Junk Food

If you're trying to live a heathy lifestyle but your sweet tooth tends to get the best of you, try these delicious low-calorie snacks instead.
August 22, 2017
8 mins read

Ah the dreaded freshman fifteen. It’s every high school senior’s nightmare, and then once you actually get to college, you realize how easily it can become the sophomore fifteen, junior fifteen and so on. The dining hall and your local grocery store are often filled with endless tasty temptations that can be hard to say no to, especially if you’re craving something sweet. The ideal solution? Healthy substitutes for junk food (that actually taste good, of course).

There are plenty of diet snacks and low-calorie food options that are available now, but some definitely taste better than others. I mean, don’t you just love when you’ve been looking forward to that new healthy cookie you bought all day, only to finally try it and find out it tastes like cardboard? Me too, it’s the best. (Not!)

So, here’s a list of college-kid-tested healthy desserts and snacks that taste just as good as the real thing.

1. Ice Cream

Okay, we’re going to start with my favorite item on this list, ice cream. I love, love, love ice cream, but unfortunately it isn’t really the kind of food that you’re supposed to eat every day (sigh), so the idea of healthy ice cream was very exciting to me, but I was truly skeptical about how it was going to taste.

Halo Top and Enlightened are two brands that offer ice cream flavors from about 240-400 calories per pint depending on the flavor, which is as low as sixty calories per serving, compared to a brand like Ben and Jerry’s, which has about three hundred calories per serving. Therefore, you don’t have to feel guilty if you “accidentally” eat the entire pint of Halo Top or Enlightened, because it can still have fewer calories than just one serving of Ben and Jerry’s.

Halo Top Ice Cream (Image via Food & Wine MagazineZ)

These two healthy ice cream brands totally taste like ice cream, and between the two brands, there are forty-six flavors to choose from, so you’re basically guaranteed to like at least one of them. Personally, I would highly recommend the chocolate chip cookie dough and the birthday cake flavors; they’re unreal. They’re also not only low calorie, but low sugar, low carb, low fat, gluten free and a good source of protein as well. What more could you ask for?

2. Peanut Butter

This next tasty item is powdered peanut butter, which, okay, I know sounds a little bit strange, but it’s really good and it has way fewer calories and less fat than regular peanut butter. You simply mix it with a little bit of water to create a healthy peanut butter mixture that you can put on bread, pretzels, celery, etc. My favorite kind is PB2 by Bell Plantation; it’s all natural, and contains no preservatives or artificial sweeteners.

In one serving, there’s only forty-five calories, one gram of fat and three grams of sugar. In your typical Skippy creamy peanut butter, you’ve got one hundred ninety calories, sixteen grams of fat and three grams of sugar per serving. The difference is insane. It tastes very similar to regular peanut butter, and there’s even a chocolate flavor available, which tastes amazing as well. Also, if you often use peanut butter when you’re baking, powdered peanut butter is an excellent healthy alternative that can be a great addition to many recipes.

3. Brownies

So, for all of you chocolate lovers out there, this one is for you. No Pudge fudge brownies are to die for. They come in four different flavors: original, cappuccino, raspberry and mint. This dessert is insanely easy to make; you just have to preheat the oven to three hundred fifty degrees and add fat-free vanilla yogurt to the brownie mix, stir, bake and enjoy. If you don’t have any vanilla yogurt on hard, feel free to use other healthy substitutes, such as applesauce or silken tofu (which I know sounds really gross, but the end result is same).

I’ve tried a few other “diet” brownie recipes off of Pinterest, but nothing has even come close to these chocolatey treats. One brownie has only one hundred twenty calories, and it’s completely fat free. The batter is composed of only eight natural ingredients, so it doesn’t have that weird chemical aftertaste that some fat-free desserts tend to have.

Honestly, if I put a No Pudge brownie and regular brownie next to each other and tried them, I don’t think I would be able to tell which one was which, they’re that good. Also, if you’re a fan of the infamous chocolate peanut butter combination, then try adding some powdered peanut butter into the batter, or just spreading it on top of the batch once it has cooled off. Or if you really feel like treating yourself, add a scoop of vanilla Enlightened or Halo Top ice cream to be fancy and make brownie a la mode. (You’re welcome.)

4. Pancakes

Kodiak Cakes is a healthy pancake and waffle mix that actually started on the TV show “Shark Tank” and took off from there. The “add-water-only” mix comes in six different varieties, such as whole-wheat oat and honey, buttermilk and honey, and other organic, gluten-free and protein-packed options as well.

Image via Cooking with Books

The Power Cakes: Protein Packed Flapjack & Waffle Mix are my favorite, and they have fourteen grams of protein per serving, which is insane for a pancake, especially considering a brand like Bisquick pancakes comparatively only has three grams of protein per serving. The Kodiak Cake brand also offers healthy, all-natural fruit syrups to accompany your pancakes or waffles.

I’m not really a waffle person, so I usually make myself pancakes, and let me tell you that these are amazing. They’re totally easy to make, they taste great and they’re good for you. So who really cares if pancakes are supposed to be a breakfast food? You can enjoy them at any time of day, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Alison McCarthy, University of New Haven

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Alison McCarthy

University of New Haven

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