We have all heard and maybe used ourselves, the phrase: “I cheated on my diet and ate…..” or “this is my cheat meal” or even heard the terms “good foods vs. bad foods”. These phrases and others like them create a mindset that demonizes foods. Yes, of course there are plenty of foods that we should limit or consume in very small amounts if we want to achieve our best health, or reach a weight loss goal. However, you don’t want to feel like you have done something terribly wrong if you decide to indulge. It’s all about balance and seeing how we can enjoy that favorite dessert or indulgent food in a healthier way.
For example, you LOVE and want some vanilla ice cream, but you’re also working hard to be healthier and lose some weight. Create the environment that will allow you to do both and stay on track. That means NOT getting a tub of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream from the store and bringing it in the house (my personal rule is: “If its in the house, its in my mouth!”). You should go somewhere (restaurant, Ben-n-Jerry’s, wherever your pleasure), get a scoop, enjoy it…..then be done. The goal when it comes to better health and nutrition is not to deny or deprive yourself. You can actually benefit from having the occasional “treat myself foods” as long as you’re not eating foods on the “consume in very small amounts” list multiple times a week. It has been shown that people trying to lose and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, get better results when they don’t deprive themselves of so called “bad cheat meals”.
As I stated above, it’s also about creating healthier versions of that indulgent food. I have a friend that has a very close relationship with chocolate brownies. The typical brownie has lots of sugar, butter, flour and usually is pretty high in calories. I decided to make a healthier version minus the sugar, butter, flour and eggs. Believe it or not my friend could NOT tell the difference! When I said that the recipe is made with black beans, cocoa powder, a little raw honey and a couple other ingredients he was shocked! The point being, there is always a way to create and enjoy your favorite foods in a healthier way. If you do, on occasion, decide to enjoy a less healthy version, do it sporadically and in moderation.
We all have our different relationships with food, but once you get on a healthier nutritional track, you are not “Cheating” if you know how to create balance. So my charge to you is to choose a favorite “indulgent” food, experiment with making healthier versions, then enjoy!
Here is one of the better Brownie recipes I enjoy:
1 (15 oz) can black beans rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree or 1/4 cup creamy raw almond butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup room temperature or raw honey
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups vegan dark chocolate chips + handful more for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 inch non-stick square baking pan. Combine everything in the food processor except chocolate chips. Process until very smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and top with more chocolate chips. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
Serve and EAT WELL!