A different approach to junk food

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

Now that the Super Bowl’s over, it’s time to slip back into my post-football depression for about seven months, until the new season begins.

Folks who aren’t sports aficionados might not realize it’s difficult to watch a sporting event whilst munching exclusively on foods like bean sprouts and radishes (although I do love them both).

Today I’m going to explain how to make those occasions’ junk foods more healthful. First let’s realize what makes junk foods so appealing. These foods taste so good, mainly, because they usually contain considerable amounts of sugars, salt, and fats.

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There are ways, however, to enjoy these types of foods without totally giving up on your diet.

Hamburgers: To make hamburgers more healthful, start with very lean, fresh ground beef. Use whole grain buns, and load up on vegetable toppings like tomatoes, onions, dark lettuce, and pickles, but don’t stop there. Be creative when you build your burgers. Other delicious, healthful toppings could include mushrooms, avocado, watercress, horseradish, sprouts (bean or alfalfa), grilled peppers, pimento, cucumber and relish. Also, use reduced fat cheese and low fat mayo.

French Fries: Cut potatoes into wedges, leaving the skin on, brush with olive oil, then bake. You can also prepare parsnips the same way. Baked parsnips are delicious. Sweet potatoes are great, too.

Pizza: Start with whole grain, thin crust. Use non-stick cooking spray (most add virtually no calories or fat), then load your pizza with veggies. Here are a few vegetables you might not have thought about as pizza toppings, but are great: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, cauliflower, greens, leeks, peas (number one pizza topping in Brazil), butternut squash, artichokes, and eggplant. Reduce your pizza’s fat further by cutting back on cheeses, or by using low fat cheeses.

Chicken Wings (my personal favorite): Shallow fry instead of deep frying, using healthy olive or sunflower oil. You can also “oven fry” first by coating chicken with corn meal, flour and spices, then baking.

Nachos: You can prepare tasty, healthful nachos by blending fresh tomatoes, chilies, garlic, onions, and peppers. Pour over reduced fat chips, top with non-fat sour cream, then sprinkle with low fat cheese.

Popcorn: Air pop, instead of using oil. To cut back on calories from butter, season with black or white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, or even lime juice. By the way, did you know popcorn has higher levels of antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables?

Here are other tips to improve the healthfulness of snack foods:

Make fast foods at home, so that way you can control ingredients.

Drink a full glass of water before eating. This will make you feel fuller longer, so you’ll eat less, and make sure you’re taking a good vitamin/mineral supplement. Without certain nutrients, you can’t metabolize (burn) or use carbohydrates, proteins, or fats.

My two favorite multi vitamin/mineral supplements are Provide and Source of Life, both of which can by found at our local Nature’s Storehouse.

Finally, if you’re going to eat fast food or junk food, plan to have it. That might seem odd, but what I mean is many folks try to eat healthy while not being able to get bad foods out of their mind. Then many consume vast quantities of these unhealthy foods, a little at a time. Since they’re eating via piecemeal, for instance, by the end of the weekend, they’ve consumed huge amounts of junk food, and now they feel guilty and defeated.

If you “plan” to indulge just a certain amount, you’ll not only get the physical satisfaction, but the emotional as well. That makes it easier to get back on your program.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as director of the strength department of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Upstate baseball team, the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.