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Guilt Free “Junk” Food

Fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and good-for-you fats are the ultimate building blocks of a healthy, slimming eating plan, but let’s face it, we all have splurge foods we just can’t live without (potato chips are one of mine!). The truth is, you can indulge in your favorite treats without breaking your calorie budget. In fact, putting them totally off limits can backfire, resulting in rebound overeating. And these days, all natural and organic options at the supermarket offer treats made from “real food” ingredients, free from even a smidge of anything artificial (the key is checking out the ingredient list), which means you can indulge a little without putting “junky” stuff in your body. So if you’re feeling a gotta-have-it craving, here’s what to look for when you’re on the hunt and how to keep your calorie count from getting out of control:

Potato Chips
Look for: Chips made from just three ingredients: real potatoes, pure vegetable oil and salt (traditional chips often contain additives such as monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate and dextrose!)
My personal pick: Kettle Organic Potato Chips, Lightly Salted (150 calories per serving). 
To curb the calories: Make room for the carbs. Ditch the bread, roll or pita and eat your sandwich on a “bun” made of grilled Portobello mushrooms or large Romaine leaves. Since chips are made with oil, limit the fat in that meal too. Pair them with grilled chicken or tofu and steamed veggies or a salad tossed with vinegar.   

Chocolate
Look for: Chocolate made simply from: dark chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla (traditional chocolate candy often contains partially hydrogenated oil and artificial flavoring).
My personal picks: Endangered Species Organic Dark Chocolate Bug Bites (50 calories each) or Guittard Extra Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (70 calories per 30 chips).
To curb the calories: Buy bite sized, individually wrapped bars and let each one melt in your mouth, or keep dark chocolate chips in your freezer with a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon stuck in it – grabbing this amount can satisfy your craving for just 70 calories.

Ice Cream
Look for: Homemade style ice cream made from: skim milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks and flavorings like vanilla bean, cocoa, mint, etc. or choose coconut milk "ice cream" if you don’t do dairy (traditional ice cream often contains ingredients like corn syrup, mono and diglycerides and propylene glycol monostearate)
My personal picks: Green & Black’s Organic Ice cream (180-250 calories per half cup) or Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss “ice cream” (240 calories per half cup)
To curb the calories: Stick to a half cup and bulk up your serving with a cup of berries or grilled fruit (like pineapple, yum!) or soften the ice cream and spoon it into popsicle molds – your brain is more likely to stop at one pop vs. a whole pint.

Cookies
Look for: Brands made from: unbleached flour, butter or vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, salt and add-ins like chocolate chips, nuts or oats or choose a vegan version made with coconut oil instead of butter and no eggs (traditional packaged cookies are filled with additives like high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors)
My personal picks: Dancing Deer Baking Co. (150 calories per cookie) or Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies (140 calories each).
To curb the calories: Take smaller nibbles and wait 5 “beats” between each bite – research shows this trick will help you feel fuller and more satisfied with a smaller portion (e.g. 1-2 cookies vs. an entire bag or sleeve).

I have no affiliations with any of these brands; they’re just ones I like and feel good about recommending but if you have other favorites, please let me know. I love to discover new brands, especially high quality organic foods that taste amazing! 

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