Conquer Cravings with These Healthy Substitutions

Updated:Nov 18,2014

various chopped vegetable texturesWe have all experienced food cravings – and often those cravings have to do with texture – like something creamy or crunchy. Food textures play a big role in whether we like or dislike certain foods. For example, while you may not like mushy canned peas, you may be surprised that you like fresh or barely cooked peas.

Luckily, eating healthy includes foods of all sorts of textures and flavors. Here are some suggestions on satisfying your cravings with nutritious snacks of a variety of textures:


Instead of this: While ice cream may come to mind first, there are a variety of other smooth snacks that may even contain some of that rich fat that makes creamy foods so satisfying.
Try munching on this:
  • 1/5th of avocado spread on whole grain bread OR ½ avocado eaten plain with a spoon!
  • Warm 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and drizzle over ½ cup low-fat, no added sugar frozen yogurt
  • Swirl 1 teaspoon of sugar free fruit jam into a cup of fat-free plain Greek yogurt or low-fat, no added sugar yogurt


Instead of this: Pretzels may be fat-free, but they are high in salt and have few vitamins or minerals.
Try munching on this:
  • ¾ cup whole grain cereal, no added sugar
  • Whole grain crisp breads
  • Plain popcorn; to add some flavor, experiment with various spices like cinnamon or your favorite spice or herb


Instead of this: Sweet tea or soda may sound refreshing, but working off all those empty calories certainly does not. A fancy mocha coffee drink with whipped cream can top 400 calories.
Try sipping on this:
  • Plain iced tea made with a squeeze of lemon and 1 teaspoon of sugar (one level teaspoon contains only 16 calories) or a noncaloric sweetener
  • Add ¼ cup 100% fruit juice to a glass and fill with club soda
  • Instead of a café mocha, choose a coffee latte made with fat-free milk and topped with cinnamon


Instead of this: Jelly-like candies or even kids’ “fruit” snacks might sound like squishy fun in your mouth, but other options pack more nutrition.
Try munching on this:
  • Fresh grapes are sweet and juicy; freeze them for a few minutes for a fun texture
  • Make tapioca pudding with squishy tapioca pearls; follow the directions on the box, only use half the amount of sugar or a noncaloric sweetener and fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Cherry tomatoes and room-temperature string cheese are squishy, stringy fun


Instead of this: Some folks may not like apples because they can be soft and mealy or grainy; the same can be true of over-cooked potatoes.
Try munching on this:
  • Choose crisp apple varieties like: Braeburn, Honey Crisp, Fuji and Gala; avoid Cortland, Red Delicious or Rome which can be softer
  • Choose red potatoes or white potatoes and don’t overcook; avoid Russet potatoes which are high in starch making them perfect for mashed potatoes – but also making them seem ‘mealy or grainy’

Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit