After weeks of holiday indulgences you may, like most Americans, be resolving to "get healthy", "eat well" or "diet" in the New Year. Curbing cravings can seem like a monumental challenge with sugar being the leading culprit. Unfortuntately it's hidden in a vast majority of foods in the American diet, particularly processed foods, even those labeled as "healthy". The good news is that you can avoid sugar and reduce cravings without dieting by making a few minor changes.
Inspired by Prevention Guide The Sugar Smart Diet Sugar Detox Made Easy, here are the best foods to eat to fight sugar cravings plus my favorite go-to snack recipe.
Fat - Contratry to popular belief, we need it! 1-2 teaspoons of healthy fats like good old fashioned butter or olive, canola, sesame, walnut, coconut, flax or avocado oil in cooking and to make salad dressings (3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar; season to taste. Easy!).
Whole Grains - Eat 1 cup of brown rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur or couscous in lieu of starchy carbs like white rice.
Lean Proteins - 3-4 oz of cooked skinless chicken breast, pork tenderloin, fish, beef or tofu. Lean protein isn't just for lunch or dinner. Try eating it as a snack or incorporate leftovers into your eggs for breakfast.
Veggies - 1-2 cups leafy greens, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onion, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms or eggplant. Add extra veggies to your meals every chance you get - smoothies, meatloaf, soups, omelettes. Substitute cucumber slices for crackers or zucchini 'noodles' for pasta. Roast long planks of sliced eggplant and use in place of lasagna noodles.
Nuts/Seeds - Skip the bars, which are typically full of added sugars (even healthy ones). Instead opt for 2 Tbsp almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews or sunflower, chia, pumpkin, flax or sesame seeds.
I was a big consumer of protein bars and Kind Bars and needed to kick the habit. This recipe, found in the aforementioned Prevention Guide, helped me do just that. The protein and spicy flavors really help curb my cravings and the nuts are great as grab & go snack or tossed into salads.
The original recipe is a slow cooker method, which I do not recommend. It wasn't worth the time and effort and the nuts were too wet. I've modified the process for better results with a quick oven method. Don't like curry? Use any of your favorite dried herbs and seasonings to taste.
Curry Spiced Nuts
6 oz raw cashews
6 oz raw almonds
6 oz raw pecan halves
3 Tbsp coconut, melted or olive oil
4 tsp curry powder
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne or more to taste
Combine all ingredients, except honey, in a large bowl tossing to evenly coat. Spread the mixture out into an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Stir and cook an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the honey and cook 2 more minutes. Allow to cool and dry completely then transfer to an airtight container.