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Stories from Nourish

3 Healthier Classic Treats

by Voices Wellness 10 Sep 2020

You can snack without guilt now, chocolate cake and fries included.  By DIANA LAM. 

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. We all need a little treat every now and then, sometimes to motivate us or just help us get through the day. While rice cakes and peanut butter or a protein ball are all good snacks, sometimes they don’t quite hit the sweet spot. No sweat. You can enjoy your favourite snacks by making more healthful, nutrient dense swaps. More flavour, less guilt, we like. 

Flavour your homemade popcorn however you like. (Photo by Mahmoud Fawzy from Unsplash)

Homemade popcorn

Don’t keep junk food in the house, says Kumi King, Voices Wellness’ culinary expert. Even when the odd unhealthy snack gets snuck into the cupboards by another family member, Kumi resists temptation and turns to her go-to treat: Homemade popcorn.     

“Making popcorn at home lets you control what goes into it” says Kumi. She says you can make a huge difference in overall food quality and the amount of calories you consume, by controlling the amount of sodium, omitting artificial flavouring, and making healthier ingredient swaps. 

Her homemade popcorn uses high-quality oils like coconut or extra virgin olive, instead of butter. To give the popcorn flavour, she skips pre-packed artificial seasoning that is loaded with preservatives. Instead she reaches for nutritional yeast (commonly found in raw vegan dishes) to give a cheese flavour; or spices like paprika, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper, or black pepper, to season her popcorn.  


3 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels

1 Tbsp or more (to taste) of olive oil (optional) 

Salt to taste

Your choice of flavouring (e.g. nutritional yeast, or spices like cayenne or black pepper)

Cooking method

1) Pour oil in a medium-sized pot and set it to low heat. When it’s warm, throw a few dry kernels and wait for it to pop. When they do, put all the dry corn kernels in the pot.

2) Cover the pot with a lid. Shake it every now and then. When you start to hear the popping sounds, lower the heat. Listen carefully, remove heat completely when the popping sounds slow down. 

3) When you open the lid you’ll see freshly made popcorn.

4) Transfer into a large bowl and sprinkle little bit of oil, salt, and spice of your choice. 

5) Store in an airtight container. 

A cross between a cake and chocolate chip cookie, and ready in just two minutes. (Photo by Caroline Chow, @healthyhealthcc on IG)

Chocolate cake in two minutes

Sometimes we just want chocolate cake. You can go to the supermarket deli for one, but that’s typically loaded with sugar and preservatives. Whipping up an entire cake to satisfy a fix is too much work, and you may be tempted to have more than you should. Enter Caroline Chow’s 2-minute chocolate cake cup. The culinary nutritionist, founder of the Happy Health blog, and author of Cook from Scratch (it features quick, delicious and healthy recipes), says this vanilla chocolate Mug cake is her quick and healthier spin on a classic. 

She swaps coconut sugar for refined white sugar. Other replacements: A mix of almond and brown rice flour for white flour; and she uses coconut instead of canola oil. 

She shares: “Coconut sugar is a great one to one sugar substitute, and it contains a handful of minerals, such as iron, zinc, potassium and calcium. In addition, coconut sugar maintains a lower rating on the glycemic index in comparison to white sugar, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar as intensely as its refined counterpart.” 

Her flour substitution also helps to increase the nutritional value and adds to our insoluble fibre intake – all good. 

A single serving of regular French fries has 365 calories. This healthier baked Zucchini version has 265 calories. (photo by @buzzfeedtasty)

Delicious fries

We love crispy snacks. Golden wedges of deliciousness. But instead of a spud version, why not make a version that ups your veggie intake? Try baked Zucchini Fries. It makes a great after-school snack, since they’re easy to make, and popular with the little ones. In fact, they taste so good, even the pickiest eaters won’t mind that they’re eating vegetables for a snack. Traditional potato French fries are often deep fried, making them high in fat, which increases your risk for high cholesterol. Panko gives this baked delight that satisfying crunch. And with parmesan, garlic powder, basil, salt, and pepper, it’s a flavour bomb on a plate.    


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