Sometimes we get stuck in a packaged-food rut: instant oatmeal for breakfast, Starbucks sandwich and latte for lunch, take-out sushi for dinner (OK, there was also an afternoon chocolate bar from the vending machine). It's time to switch things up—even for just one meal a day—so we asked a pro for help. This week's featured foodie is Stephanie Park of The Healthy Hour. She's here to share seven of her favorite healthier versions of those processed and to-go eats we hate to love.
Store-bought granola can be packed with sugar, making it more dessert than anything resembling a good-for-you snack. DIY this crunchy treat using maple syrup for sweetness, plus nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, and dried fruit for flavor. Spoon it over yogurt or milk, or just scoop it up by the handful.
Mornings are busy, we know. But before you rip open a package of brown sugar-cinnamon microwave oats, go back to basics. This creamy porridge may take five minutes longer to make than the just-add-water stuff, but after that first bite, you’ll know it’s worth it. Dress up the oats (super silky thanks to mashed banana) with raw chocolate sauce and all the nuts and seeds your cabinet has to offer.
OK, so you’re hooked on Starbucks matcha lattes; admitting it is the first step. Back away from the venti cup and brew your own. Blend matcha powder with almond milk, boiling water, coconut oil, and sweetener until the mixture is frothy. Sip, sigh, repeat.
A better-for-you PB&J is in your future. Soak chia seeds in water and watch them expand into a jammy gel. Blend with strawberries and raspberries until smooth. Let the mixture thicken up a bit in the fridge, then smear over a thick slice of bread with a big glob of almond butter. Take a massive bite—this will definitely get all over your face. (And it will be awesome.)
Snack attack at work? Before putting your paycheck into the office vending machine, reach into your bag for a few of these chocolaty bites. Blend up a big batch (with pantry staples like oats, almond butter, and chocolate chips) on Sunday night, and boom: snacks for the whole week.
We all love a visit to the sushi bar, but we can’t afford to do that every time a salty craving strikes. Expand the definition of sushi by pulling out the best ingredients from your favorite rolls and cramming them into a bowl. Diced avocado, crumbled nori, seasoned rice, pickled ginger—there’s room for all. Add a glug of miso dressing, and we dare you not to want seconds.
How easy is it to down one, two, three, then seven peanut butter cups? Too easy. In our world, we don’t believe in avoiding chocolate, but we do try to cut back on the processed, mega-sugary packaged candy bars. Good thing it’s wildly easy to make your own. Melt cacao butter and powder together for pure melted chocolate, then add maple syrup for sweetness. Opt for no-sugar-added nut butters in the center—this one calls for almond, but any will do. Top with sea salt, because everyone deserves to be fancy.
Stephanie Park is a healthy food and lifestyle blogger based in New York City. She created The Healthy Hour to bring together easy-to-follow recipes, interviews, and tips from real and inspiring women around the world. For more from Stephanie, visit her website and follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.