I know that first thing in the morning, I NEED something warm and comforting.
I know that early-afternoon, I absolutely HAVE TO HAVE something crunchy.
And I know that when I've had a really tough day, I CANNOT DO WITHOUT something cool, creamy and soothing.
You get where I'm going here people??
I love them. It's like your bodies way of telling you it needs to scratch an itch. And when you do, it feels sooo good.
Although we often associate cravings with something unhealthy, I decided that doesn't have to be the case at all. If we get inventive, there are certain tastes and textures that can be accomplished with healthy, unprocessed (and gluten-free) food, and still knock it out of the park in the cravings department.
Here are a few of my favorite Healthy craving-CRUSHERS:
NUTS – I have a slight addiction to nuts. Crunchy, creamy, toasty, satisfying nuts. A complete nutritional source, they contain everything that their parent tree needed to grow – fats, carbohydrates, protein and natural antioxidants like Vitamin E. AND THEY'RE CRUNCHY. (And who doesn't love things that crunch?)
Please note: With all that said, there is such a thing as TOO MANY NUTS (1). Because of their high Omega 6 content, they can be pro-inflammatory just like those shitty processed oils. Good news. There are a few with pretty low omega 6 content. They are: cashews (2.6 g), macadamia nuts (.5 g) and hazelnuts (2.7 g) which is A-Okay with me (Macadamia nuts are like crunchy creamy heaven, in my opinion).
FLAX CRACKERS – Crackers are the only things I really missed when I switched over to a gluten-free diet. When I come home from work, and I'm hungry and need something crunchy, nothing is as satisfying as a cracker. Mary's Gone Crackers are my go-to brand. They are organic and gluten-free, and made with whole grain brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds and sesame seeds. All good protein-filled nutrients that will fill you up much faster than any cracker could.
TIP: You can get a big box at Costco for much cheaper than the grocery store.
KALE CHIPS – Although I've had my doubts about Trader Joe's snacks, they still have a few gems that don't use processed vegetable oils. One of those gems are their Kale Chips. Their ingredients are good and simple: Kale, Cashews, Tahini, Carrot Powder, Onion Powder, Cane Sugar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Mustard Powder, Salt, Garlic Powder. Of course, never rule out making your own. Homemade will always be better and kale chips don't take long to whip up. If you're interested, Oh She Glows wrote a post on how to make the perfect kale chip.
HOMEMADE PLANTAIN CHIPS – I've said it all in this blog post. Plantain chips are the bomb. They are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin B-6 and minerals, and their soluble fiber content may help ward off intestinal problems. And they're so additively tasty. Yes, Trader Joe's makes some pretty great ones. But the sunflower oil that they use to make them – not so great. I beg you, at least once, to try making them yourself (recipe is in the blog post above). WORTH IT.
FROBANA – Who needs ice cream when you have frobana in your life? Seriously. I've crossed over. I no longer crave ice cream. I crave FROZEN BANANA MIXED WITH ANYTHING MY HEART DESIRES. Check out my Cherry Garcia Frobana, my Pumpkin Frobana, or my Instagram Page for recipes. I've started to get real creative with my frobanas by adding healthy boosters (like Ginger for digestion or Goji Berries for antioxidants).
CHOCO-CADO MOUSSE – A few months back, I had the pleasure of eating at a new-ish restaurant in Chicago that actually is based off of a Paleo Diet called mEAT. I think the waiter thought I was crazy because I was SO EXCITED about everything on the menu. Anyways, long story short, the pièce de résistance was the chocolate avocado mouse that came at the end. It might have been the most decadent dessert I've ever had in my life – but it was GOOD FOR ME. I had to figure out how to make it myself. And although it's still not quite as good as mEAT's. It's pretty darn close. Check it out below!
SMOOTHIES – The health benefits are undeniable in smoothies. Greens, fruits, proteins, antioxidants and more – pulverized into a tall cold delicious drink. Again, check out my Instagram Page for more smoothie ideas. I'll keep em coming because I can't get enough of them.
SWEET POTATO PORRIDGE – Looking for something warm and creamy? THIS IS THE STUFF. I wrote to my friend Leslie about alternative gluten-free breakfast ideas and created this baby on accident. It has been my best friend on cold Chicago Winter nights. And of course, everything in it is meant for a nourishing meal. Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of fiber, potassium, vitamins (particularly vitamin A and beta carotene), and minerals, and low amounts of sodium. Add a boost of protein with almond butter, healthy fat with coconut oil, and anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon, and you're golden. I'll follow up with a more detailed recipe, but the basics are this – throw roasted sweet potatoes, half a banana, a teaspoon or 2 of almond butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice in a bowl and mash it up.
[See cool & creamy]
TEA & HONEY – Sometimes, when I have the slightest craving for something sweet, instead of reaching for chocolate or candy, I simply make a cup of tea and add some really great honey to it. Honey is so good for you. Among other things, it has energy boosting benefits and can reduce allergy and cold symptoms (2). Please keep in mind, though, the type of honey that you use MATTERS. I hate to break it to you but that honey bear honey in the grocery store contains some seriously processed version of the real thing – completely defeating the health benefits of the good stuff. I picked up some INCREDIBLE honey from the farmer's market in San Francisco from this brand. But you can't go wrong with Trader Joe's raw honey. Combine it with a good quality Chai tea, splash in some whole milk or coconut milk and a dash of cinnamon, and you've got this healthy powerhouse in a cup that warms your bones.
GINGER CANDY – If ever I had to fess up to an addiction, it would have to be ginger candy. I literally don't think I've gone one weekday in the last 5 years without a piece of ginger candy. It's my go-to treat after lunch at my desk. If I run out of them, I freak out. Ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation (like digestion), stimulate circulation, reduce gas and bloating and prevent stomach ulcers (3). I feel like they freshen my breath too. And just like everything else in this post, IT'S TASTY – especially if you like spicy things. I love the Chewy Ginger Candy from the Ginger People. They're widely available and not overly sweet.
DARK CHOCOLATE – I couldn't write a craving's post without a shout out to my favorite craving of all – DARK CHOCOLATE. The dessert that keeps on giving. It's rich, it's decadent, and it's oh-so-good for you. It KILLS it in the polyphenol and antioxidant department – MUCH higher than super fruits like acai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberry (YA, that's awesome). And it has been shown to improve blood pressure and blood flow. But just like the honey, the quality of dark chocolate is key. The higher the cacao content, the bigger the benefits (I try to stick to 70% or higher). I keep a bag of Dark Chocolate Chips in my freezer at all times (I like this brand), and sometimes toss it with a handful of dried cranberries for a great after-dinner treat. But if I'm in the mood for something a little more serious, I take my butt to Whole Foods and drool at all of the decadent options (I'm a BIG fan of Chocolove XOXO and for a less expensive option, Trader Joe's Organic 72% Dark Chocolate bars).
CHOCO-CADO MOUSSE RECIPE
- 1 Avocado
- 3-4 TPSP. Cacao Powder
- Handful of dark chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1-2 TBSP. of coconut milk (if you have it on hand, the canned kind is thicker and creamier than the carton)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A dash of honey (per your tastes)
- A dash of sea salt (I used Hawaiian black lava sea salt)
- Garnish ideas: Strawberry, raspberry, mint, basil, coconut shreds, pistachios, cashews
- Toss all of your ingredients in a food processor/blender
- Taste test even before it's blended all the way through
- Too avocado-y? Add more chocolate chips or honey per your tastes
- Put in a pretty bowl and add a pretty topping (or just eat it straight out of the blender)
Alrighty. Here's the part where I embarrass myself and ask a question to you all and nobody answers! What are you all craving? Have you invented any foods in the heat of the moment that totally hit the spot? I'd love to hear about them! COMMENT BELOW!