Conquer Cravings with These Healthy Substitutions

Updated:Jan 13,2015

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 can be just as satisfying.
Try munching on this:
  • Fresh 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.
  • Puree some berries and swirl into a cup of low-fat yogurt with no sugar added.


Instead of this: Pretzels and chips have a crunchy texture that you may crave, but they can come with a lot of extra sodium that you don’t need.
Try munching on this:
  • ¾ cup whole grain cereal, no added sugar
  • Crunchy unsalted nuts
  • 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 it can take a while to work off all those empty calories. A medium-sized fancy mocha coffee drink with whipped cream can be 400 calories- and that’s before adding sugar or honey.
Try sipping on this:
  • Plain iced tea made with a squeeze of lemon. You can sweeten with berries or a non-caloric sweetener
  • Add fruit slices to a glass and fill with club soda
  • Instead of the fancy mocha drink, choose a small latte made with nonfat milk and topped with cinnamon which is about a quarter of the calories.


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 non-caloric 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 © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe/article 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

Last reviewed 1/2015