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Healthy Alternatives to Greasy Foods

7 affordable alternatives to satisfy your cravings

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

With February fast approaching, chances are your New Year’s resolutions are already history. But just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you have an excuse to crawl into a bowl of comfort food and stay there until spring. Chew on these smart alternatives to the greasy snacks you crave and keep that summer body goal within reach.

potato chips

If you’re craving potato chips, try leafy green veggie chips

Kale may no longer be the “it” green hogging the spotlight, but it still makes for a great, crunchy chip that gives those Lay’s a run for their money. Tired of kale? Branch out with spinach chips, collard green chips or Brussels sprout chips.

To make: Rinse and dry each leaf thoroughly. Remove any ribs and tear into bite-sized pieces. Spritz with cooking spray, then season with cumin, curry powder, nutritional yeast or everything-bagel mix — or keep it simple with salt and pepper. Bake at 225 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Watch closely; delicate chips burn easily.

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mashed potatoes

If you’re craving buttery mashed potatoes, try savory mashed squash

Is there any food more comforting than a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes brimming with gravy? It may seem like sacrilege to serve a roasted chicken or meatloaf without mash, but winter squashes, roasted and then whipped to creamy perfection, make a delectable substitute. A savory squash dish is also a welcome departure from the typical butter-and-sugar preparation.

Butternut and acorn squash are two of the most widely available varieties, but if you can get your hands on a delicata — a long, narrow, pale yellow gourd with green stripes — you’re in for a real treat.

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pizza

If you’re craving pizza, try eggplant or zucchini pizza bites

You know what they say about pizza — even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. But good pizza, to many people, means gooey mozzarella and plenty of pepperoni, not to mention that pure-carb crust. Enter eggplant or zucchini.

To make: Slice these veggies into rounds and arrange on a baking tray. Brush each round with olive oil, season with garlic powder and oregano and top with pizza sauce and a sprinkling of skim-milk mozzarella. Bake at 400° until the rounds are tender and the cheese is melted. Voila! Adorable little mini-pizzas that are nearly guilt-free.

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cream cheese on bagel

If you’re craving cream cheese, try labneh

Get ready to meet your new BFF: labneh, a Middle Eastern cheese that’s incredibly versatile. Think of a cross between Greek yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese. Labneh can be spread on bagels or pita, topped with za’atar or fresh herbs for a delicious dip, stuffed into dates or figs and drizzled with honey, or even used to make cheesecake.

The best part? Labneh clocks in with fewer calories and less fat than cream cheese but packs a nutritional punch by providing protein, fiber and probiotic benefits.

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apple pie

If you’re craving apple pie, try a baked apple

Warm apple pie with ice cream is one of the best desserts around. But all that shortening or butter in the crust means this all-American treat should be an occasional indulgence. Treat yourself to the same caramel and spice flavors, without pie’s calories and fat, by baking apples.

To make: Wash and core apples, arrange in a baking dish, then fill the center hole with a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dab of butter and a generous dash of cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees until soft all the way through. You can serve these with vanilla froyo, but they’re also super satisfying as is.

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popcorn

If you’re craving buttery popcorn, try it topped with nutritional yeast

When winter winds howl and it’s time to cuddle up on the couch for a Netflix binge, you’ll probably have a hankering for a big bowl of popcorn. On its own, popcorn is a very healthy snack — it’s all the butter and salt that turns this snack into a splurge. For guilt-free munching, try air-popped popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

Not to be confused with baker’s yeast, nutritional yeast has a savory, almost cheesy flavor that makes it an umami powerhouse. It is vegan, high in protein and rich in B vitamins and trace minerals. Use a little cooking spray to help it adhere to your popped corn, then nosh away.

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eggrolls

If you’re craving egg rolls, make egg roll bowls

Had a long week? Don’t feel like cooking? It’s tempting to order in Chinese, but you’re bound to regret it later when all that greasy food weighs you down. Instead of oil-soaked egg rolls, try making egg roll bowls. They have the same scrumptious flavor profile but are actually healthy if you use ground white-meat turkey or ground chicken. Loads of chopped cabbage, along with carrots, scallions, ginger and garlic, help you strive for five (servings of fruits and veggies per day). Since you’ve removed the greasy fried wrapper from the equation, you can stuff yourself silly and still feel virtuous.

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Want to make healthy eating even easier?

Cooking from scratch is a surefire way to make nutritious meals, but who’s got the time? Meal services and snack subscriptions are the answer to this cooking conundrum. With perfect portions and some of the prep work taken off your plate, these tried-and-true entrees or on-the-go smoothies and bowls help you eat right without sacrificing your precious “me time” or Hulu marathon.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.