Embrace Your Cravings – with 5 Healthy Swaps from the Swift Kitchen by Kathie Madonna Swift

Food cravings. We all get them every now and then, but what matters most is what we do about them. Sometimes after a long day at the office, you might think, “Boy, I could really go for a big bowl of pasta,” or a juicy burger or whatever it is that tempts your taste buds. Rather than seeing these occasional cravings as a negative, that must be controlled, beaten back or caved into, try to see your cravings for what they often are – a means of communication. Think of it as your body telling you what it needs, not simply what it wants.

Cravings for sugar notwithstanding (as no body actually needs sugar), a desire for a burger may signal that you’re low on iron. A chip attack may actually be your body saying it needs a little sodium, or simply some crunch. Regardless of what your body may actually be running a bit low on, the good news is you can “give in” to your cravings more frequently than you think – as long as you do it in a healthy way. Here are a few thoughts on how to renovate your favorite crave-worthy foods and swap in some good-for-you alternatives:

When you’re craving pasta…

Leave the heavy-duty starchy carbs behind, but still get the look and similar texture with a little help from a spiralizer, which magically slices veggies like zucchini, carrots or even sweet potatoes into long, thin, pasta-like strands. Too tired to spirialize (now that’s tired!)? Then microwave a spaghetti squash for an equally delicious, low-cal, low-carb spaghetti-style bed for your favorite sauce.

When you’re craving a burger…

Make yourself a super, diner-style deluxe burger, with a few healthy adjustments. Here’s how I build a burger – and it’s so filling it feels exceptionally indulgent: Place your cooked burger patty on a bed of wilted spinach. Sprinkle with a light, (optional) dusting of shaved feta or asiago cheese. Add a patty-sized slice (about a quarter inch thick) of beefsteak tomato on top. Top with a layer of caramelized onions. Add a half an avocado, sliced or mashed, plus two tablespoons of good-for-you fermented red cabbage or Kim chi on the side. Top it all with a half a teaspoon of flax seed and teaspoon of chia seeds. Next? Dig in!

When you’re craving a creamy chicken salad...

Whip up a delicious batch of my tasty “Unclassic Chicken Waldorf Salad,” made with creamy yoghurt chive dressing. Here’s how: Combine: 1 chopped scallion and 2 tablespoons walnuts with 6 ounces skinless baked chicken, sliced or cut in 1-inch pieces. Add 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce, plus 4 tablespoons Yogurt Chive Dressing. To make it, place 2 cups, plain, unsweetened organic yogurt in a medium bowl. Blend in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons minced chives with 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill, a 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt and a 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Store extra dressing in the fridge for up to one week.

When you’re craving potato chips…

Let there be chips – of the healthy kind. The simplest, tastiest, most nutritious ones I can think of are easy to make yourself out of veggies, with kale, beet and sweet potato being my favorites. Delicate, nutrient-dense and packing that satisfying crunch we all love, home made veggie chips do far more good than harm! They bake in about 15 minutes and are extra delicious when dusted with spicy, to-taste combinations of Himalayan salt, black pepper, rosemary, paprika and garlic.

When you’re craving a peanut butter cup…

Swap out the orange and brown wrapper for a healthy homemade alternative: 2 or 3 chewy, sweet figs topped with natural peanut butter and a dusting of cocoa powder.

For more ideas on how to create a vibrant diet, gut microbiome and life, check out my book The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight and Get Rid of the Bloat.

with addtional reporting by Kate Doyle Hooper

Kathie SwiftComment