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The Best Healthy Swaps for Every Junk Food Craving

Salted Dark Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Cups

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Ask any mom: The orange-wrapped peanut butter cups are always the first to get chosen from their kids' Halloween loot. While we love the goodness of nuts, even a "fun-size" version can feel not-so-fun for adults. This recipe combines high-quality burnt toffee dark chocolate by Green & Black's with a combination of super-ripe banana and natural peanut butter to make a no-sugar-added bite!

Get the recipe: Banana & PB Cups

Photo: Abbey's Kitchen

Carrot Cake Doughnuts

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Tempted to pull over at the coffee shop drive-through for a decadent seasonal doughnut? Not anymore! These carrot cake doughnuts are baked, not fried, so they won't leave you feeling weighed down like regular doughnuts. They taste so good, you'd never know they're gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free.

Get the recipe: Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Photo: Back to the Book Nutrition

Spicy Pineapple Cauliflower Pork Fried Rice

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Forget Chinese delivery—in just 30 minutes you can enjoy a healthier and lighter version of fried rice! Say goodbye to MSG and a load of salt, and hello to big, bold flavor.

Get the recipe: Cauliflower and Pork Fried Rice

Photo: Real Simple Good

Jicama Fries

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Who can resist a box of late-night fries? Feel free to indulge when you have these tasty jicama fries. Jicama looks like a potato, but it's a bit sweeter and crispier, with about 40 percent of the calories and carbs of a potato, plus fiber to keep you full!

Get the recipe: Crinkle-Cut Jicama Fries

Photo: Nutrition à la Natalie

Healthy Beaver Tail Pastries

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A Canadian staple at any carnival or festival, these "Bieber Tails" are a healthified version of the much beloved deep-fried Beaver Tail pastries. This version starts with a Light Flatout Flatbread that delivers 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber in each 90-calorie wrap, leaving you plenty of room for a layer of almond butter and a swirl of homemade healthy Nutella.

Get the recipe: Healthy Homemade Bieber Tails

Photo: Abbey's Kitchen

Healthy Peppermint Patties

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The chocolate and mint combo is a winner every time. This easy recipe has no artificial flavors, is totally dairy-free, and contains 20 grams of sugar less than our beloved candy.

Get the recipe: Vegan Peppermint Patties

Photo: Russell Nutrition

Healthy Homemade Ranch

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Snacking on raw veggies instead of chips is definitely healthier, but dips can add a boat load of calories and fat to each bite! Opt for making your own ranch dressing at home with wholesome ingredients that will actually enhance the taste and benefits of your veggie snack.

Get the recipe: Homemade Ranch Dressing

Photo: RDelicious Kitchen

Dark Chocolate Candy Bar

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Any chunky chocolate bar is a friend of ours, but we're BFFs for life with this version thanks to the antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and fiber-rich nuts. It also skips the artificial flavors and colors, which are often hiding in store-bought candy bars.

Get the recipe: Dark Chocolate Chunky Bar

Photo: Jenna Braddock RDN

Healthier Orange Julius

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A beloved childhood drink, these so-called "smoothies" are basically desserts in a glass, leading to a quick sugar high and inevitable crash. This version packs a combination of healthy fat, fiber, and a good dose of protein to keep you satisfied all morning long.

Get the recipe: Healthier Orange Julius

Photo: Smart Nutrition

DIY Gatorade

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Attention Gatorade guzzlers: While sports drinks may seem like a healthy choice, they're usually loaded with a ton of added sugar, plus artificial colors and flavors that you just don't need. Skip the bottled stuff and make your own with this recipe using coconut water, citrus, and raw honey.

Get the recipe: DIY Gatorade

Photo: Coconuts & Kettlebells

Better-for-You Nutella

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Let's be honest: Even though it's marketed as a healthy breakfast choice, store-bought Nutella is and always will be dessert. The (delicious) stuff has about 5 teaspoons of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving, plus non-sustainably sourced palm oil and artificial flavors. Skip the store-bought version and make your own with less sugar and a few simple ingredients!

Get the recipe: Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Photo: Wellness Mama

Gummy Bears

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Need a sugar fix? These DIY healthy homemade mini gummy bears are made with real fruit and no refined sugars or dyes. Mix and match your favorite flavors for a healthier blast from the past snack.

Get the recipe: Gummy Bears

Photo: Healthnut Nutrition

Homemade Spicy Black Pepper Beef Jerky

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Most store-bought beef jerky is loaded with corn syrup, sugar, soy, and additives. Thankfully, you can make your own delicious, healthy, and protein-packed beef jerky in your own oven using simple savory spices.

Get the recipe: Homemade Spicy Black Pepper Beef Jerky

Photo: The Rising Spoon

Vegan Jamaican Patties

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Buttery pastry and fatty meat.... Unless you're still rocking the metabolism of your college-age self, these kinds of foods probably have become an occasional treat. Not anymore! This better-for-you version swaps out the questionable ingredients for an all-vegan filling and pastry.

Get the recipe: Jamaican Patty

Photo: Edgy Veg

Zucchini Pad Thai

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Skip the carb fest with Thai takeout. This zucchini noodle pad thai is lower in sodium and sugar than your standard bowl of noodles, way lower in empty carbs and calories, plus it's gluten-free!

Get the recipe: Pad Thai

Photo: Honestly, Morgan

Homemade Cheez Whiz & Homemade Velveeta

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Why it's healthier: Store-bought processed cheese foods are stuffed full of preservatives, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and artificial flavors. This homemade version features bone-strengthening gelatin, milk, and cheese, yet still melts and tastes like Velveeta! Not only is it not junk, it's still tasty and satisfying too.

Get the recipe: Homemade Cheez Whiz

Photo: Nourishing Joy

The Perfect Healthy Travel Destinations for a Weekend Getaway with Your Friends


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If you're craving sand and surf, a tropical island vacation is closer than you think. Bermuda is just a two to three hour flight from the East Coast. Check into the newly renovated Hamilton Princess & beach Club (from $479 a night;, change into your workout gear, and meet up at the recently opened Exhale, the property's spa and fitness center, for a Core Fusion barre or yoga class. Afterward, hop on the hotel's jitney to Princess Beach Club, which boasts a private cove on Bermuda's beautiful South Beaches. Relax in the water hammocks or borrow snorkeling gear to get an up-close look at ocean life offshore.

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Go on a Jet Ski adventure with your group (rentals from $125; You'll zoom past local monuments like Somerset Bridge (the world's smallest drawbridge), and the historic forts of St. George. Be sure to slow down to explore Bermuda's amazing Sea Gardens, where colorful reefs poke out from the ocean. Go from the sea to the subterranean with a group tour of Bermuda's remarkable caverns (from $22;, including the Crystal Cave, which features a massive, super clear underground lake. Aboveground, rent bikes (from $40; and hit the Bermuda Railway Trail, a scenic 18-mile path that winds past secluded beaches, lush woodlands, and several stunning lookout points. (Follow these pointers to make sure you stay in shape during your relaxing beach trip.)

Photo: Sam Robinson

Portland, Maine

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This charming coastal city is having a culinary renaissance. Hit the cobblestoned streets in the Old Port District to try some of the most-talked-about restaurants in New England. First stop for food-loving friends: The airy shellfish joint Eventide Oyster, which features 16 types of oysters, as well as other seafood that changes daily based on what was biting that morning. For a more luxurious meal, try Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea. The chef belongs to a sustainable-seafood program that encourages restaurants to put underused species on the menu to fight overfishing. You'll have your pick of lesser-known options such as redfish, in addition to more traditional salmon. Another standout is Miyake, an ocean-to-table sushi bar that features creatively prepared fish, meat, and produce, caught or raised in or near Portland. When you're ready for a break from seafood, sample the small plates at Central Provisions, a James Beard Award–nominated restaurant. Or head to local favorite Slab Sicilian Street Food for a thick-crusted slice of the city's best pizza, plus a beer from among the 20 on tap. Keep your food focus going strong at the Chebeague Island Inn (from $180 a night;, which is located on an island in Casco Bay and is a 25-minute water taxi ride off the coast. The hotel sources ingredients for its restaurant from the organic Secondwind Farm nearby. Play tennis on the inn's courts, kayak in Casco Bay, hike to scenic Deer Point for a picnic lunch by the ocean, or just lounge around with your friends on the sprawling beachfront porch as the waves roll in for a moment of Zen. If this Maine trip inspired your taste buds put these unusual restaurant on your bucket list.

Photo: Sam Robinson

REI Adventures, Nationwide

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If you want to go wild, gear up to go backpacking. REI recently started offering women-only trips in such awe-inspiring locations as the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Great Smoky Mountains. With a female guide, you and your friends will hike three to 13 miles a day past alpine lakes, jagged peaks, roaring rivers, and mountain passes. Each night you can tell stories around the campfire; in the morning you'll be awakened by magnificent sunrises (from $699 a person per trip, not including transportation; If you prefer something a little more luxe, REI Adventures also has a Signature Camping Program that features tents outfitted with cots, lights, and other amenities; prepared meals; bathrooms; and chairs set up around the campfire. During the day, you'll hike (and sometimes also kayak, zipline, or raft) through Yosemite, Zion, and the Rocky Mountains (from $1,149 a person per trip). If you're not big into camping, but still want to adventure there's plenty of other athletic vacations to choose from.

Photo: Shutterstock

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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With fresh mountain air, spectacular panoramic views, and a relaxing vibe, this Southwestern city feels like a sanctuary from daily life. Head to Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style oasis tucked away in Santa Fe's hills. Take a dip in the women-only outdoor baths to relax your muscles, then indulge in a Salt Glow treatment, which uses sea salt and warm massage oil to work out kinks. (Want more ladies-only vacas? Check out these retreats.) Regroup back in town at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market, where you can sample local chiles, coffee, breads, and pastries. Then take advantage of Santa Fe's weather—the city boasts 320 sunny days a year—with a guided Yogihike. Your group will trek up peaceful wooded trails, then lay your mats on the forest floor for a one-hour yoga session ($108 per person; Keep your relaxation going at La Posada de Santa Fe Hotel & Spa Resort, set on six secluded acres (from $182 a night per person; Wake up with a private yoga or Pilates session, then visit the full-service spa for a locally inspired treatment like the Santa Fe Chocolate Chile Wrap. Finish your night with a tequila tasting at the cozy on-property Staab House bar.

Photo: Sam Robinson

Kabocha Squash Spread on Toasted Flatbread

Kabocha Squash Spread on Toasted Flatbread


  • Kabocha squash, halved and seeded
  • Olive oil
  • Greek yogurt
  • Toasted flatbread
  • Kale
  • Vinaigrette
  • Spiced pecans


  1. Brush the flesh side of a halved and seeded squash with olive oil and roast at 350 degrees , flesh side down, until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool, scoop out the flesh with a spoon, and mix with 1 cup Greek yogurt. Spread the squash mixture on a toasted flatbread, top with kale dressed with vinaigrette, and garnish with spiced pecans.


  • Courtesy of Justin Cameron, chef de cuisine at Marsh House at Thompson Hotel in Nashville

Spicy and Sweet Roasted Kabocha Squash

Spicy and Sweet Roasted Kabocha Squash


  • Kabocha squash, halved and seeded
  • Store-bought sweet Thai chili
  • Brown sugar
  • Sriracha
  • Rice vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Halve a squash and remove the seeds, then cut each half lengthwise into thirds. In a bowl, mix 1 cup store-bought sweet Thai chili sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, salt, and pepper. Rub the sauce on each piece of squash and roast on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Season with salt.


  • Jon Andersen, executive chef at the Normal Diner at Graduate Hotel in Tempe, Arizona

Creamy Kabocha Squash Soup

Creamy Kabocha Squash Soup


  • Kabocha squash, halved and seeded
  • Canola oil
  • Onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped celery
  • Dried thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Curry powder
  • Skim milk
  • Toasted sunflower seeds


  1. Roast halved and seeded squash at 350 degrees , flesh side down, until soft, about 30 minutes, and let cool for 10 minutes. In a pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon canola oil and saute 1/2 chopped onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2 stalk chopped celery, and 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, turmeric, and curry powder for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flesh of the squash to the pot, along with 3 cups skim milk and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Serve it topped with toasted sunflower seeds.


  • Courtesy of Todd Pulsinelli, executive chef at Restaurant August in New Orleans