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Let’s discuss 5 unhealthy foods that are very common, and how to easily put together healthier alternatives that taste even better.

In this article we’ll focus on some of the worst food choices people make and what healthy alternatives are out there. These junk foods are usually very cheap to mass-produce; they’re very addictive, unfortunately devoured of nutrients and consuming them will simply make you sick on the long-term.

Hint: Yes, you can have healthy French fries, but you must prepare them yourself. Read below to find out why these foods make us sick and how you can find or prepare healthier alternatives.

Freshly baked sweet and white potatoes.

Oven-baked french fries made from white and sweet potatoes.

French Fries

The Trouble with French Fries

  • The oils used for frying are unhealthy refined oils.
  • These refined oils promote inflammation, weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s and a multitude of other health conditions.
  • Refined oils are oxidized thus generating free radicals, which contribute to inflammation and cell breakdown.
  • These oils are often reused which makes things even worse.
  • French fries are very often associated with eating other low quality foods – bread and buns, low quality meats, unhealthy sauces, drinking alcohol or soft drinks.
  • Eating French fries only contributes to unhealthy eating habits: eating in a hurry, eating when one is very hungry, not chewing the food correctly, or unhealthy digestion.
  • Because of the frying and the high temperatures used in the cooking process, one should also consider the toxins resulting from cookware (how the cookware acts at these high temps).
  • More often, French fries and foods associated with them are prepared and served using the lowest standards (kitchen hygiene, cookware, oils used, even the quality of the potatoes).

The Healthy Solution for French Fries

  • We can replace them with baked veggies: potatoes (normal or sweet), carrots, celery, and mushrooms.
  • Instead of refined oils, use coconut oil or raw butter.
  • Cooked this way, baked potatoes and veggies are actually beneficial for your gut health. This way of cooking promotes the growth of beneficial gut flora, since the food will now act as probiotics (food for your gut bacteria).
  • Bake your veggies in the oven using either parchment paper or straight into a ceramic oven dish; Cooked this way, no toxins will be released in the cooking process.
  • Oven baked French fries are the perfect example of how an unhealthy food can be turned into a healthy food.
  • This simple dish is very fun to make together with your kids. They can also help put everything together plus it’s safe/healthy for them to eat.
Single slice of Low-Carb Chocolate Cake with Berries on a plate and a cup of hot tea.

Low-carb cakes are easy to bake and healthy to eat, plus they work great as breakfast.

Cake

The Trouble with Cake

  • Conventional cake is almost always made with refined flours, too much added sugar, refined oils, little to no beneficial fiber and it’s unfortunately devoured of nutrients.
  • The frosting is almost always made using margarine (instead of raw butter) and too much sugar.
  • Chocolate cake is almost always prepared using the lowest quality chocolate and other low-quality ingredients that don’t come with any health benefits.
  • It’s almost always made with additives and preservatives to increase shelf life.
  • Eating cake regularly triggers a sugar dependency, can damage your gut flora, will increase insulin resistance, promotes obesity, lowers your immune system, promotes dental cavities, etc.
  • These are just a few of the bad stuff associated with eating regular cake or junk foods.

The Healthy Solution for Cake

Instead of conventionally made cake, why not give low-carb cake a try? Here’s why low-carb cake is healthier in all aspects (from taste to health promoting benefits).

Here’s what makes low-carb cakes so special:

  • It’s prepared using healthy flour almond flour or coconut flour instead of refined white flour.
  • We use very little sugar or better yet, we use healthy sugar substitutes like organic raw coconut sugar.
  • We use cacao mass/butter and we make the frosting using raw butter.
  • There are so many low-carb variations out there that you just can’t go wrong. These can include using real fruit or berries (fresh or frozen) for an added boost of nutrients.
  • Low-carb cakes are very popular these days and I can safely say I wouldn’t go back to a “regular” cake even if it came from Paris.

Low-Carb Chocolate Cake With Berries

This low-carb chocolate cake has the perfect soft texture and a light cacao taste with a strong flavor of berries. It’s loaded with healthy nutrients, low in sugar, zero gluten and works great as a meal replacement. Did I mention that it’s healthy?
Check out this recipe
Single slice of Low-Carb Chocolate Cake with Berries on a plate and fork on the side.
Paleo pancakes served with caramelized apple slices and berries.

Eggs and banana pancakes are one of my favorite things to eat.

Pancakes

Pancakes are one of those desserts that my mother used to make me quite a few times when I was a kid. I used to eat them with plum butter (a traditional Romanian marmalade recipe made from plums, at the end of the plum season). The plums are boiled all day long in a bath of sugar and water, until they develop into a thick paste (or butter).

I used to love this dessert, but was it healthy? Of course it wasn’t. What made the pancakes unhealthy? Was it the flour? Was it the plum butter? Let’s find out in the section below.

The Trouble with Pancakes

  • Always prepared using low-quality white flours which, as we know by now, are devoured of real nutrients.
  • White flour comes with a lot of gluten, which makes the pancakes fluffy, but it doesn’t do much for your health. Unfortunately, gluten is an anti-nutrient that promotes gut inflammation and leaky gut.
  • They’re loaded with sugar, having a high glycemic index, which will definitely not put you into the fat burning zone. Instead, eating pancakes regularly promotes sugar cravings, uncontrolled hunger, insulin resistance, weight gain, obesity, diabetes, even heart disease and cancers.
  • Pancakes are often prepared using milk or milk powders – allergies to dairy are very serious, plus the quality of milk powders is always questionable.
  • They always contain refined oils and/or margarine (trans-fats) – these fats are needed to make the pancakes fluffy and creamy, but all of this comes with negative health effects.
  • Ready-made pancakes are even worse since they’re loaded with additives and preservatives, plus trans-fats (a very dangerous type of fat that promotes inflammation in the whole body).
  • Plus, ready-made pancakes are also loaded with fillers like soy, soy-based products and added gluten. They may look great and maybe taste ok, but they’re far from being nutritious and healthy for you.
  • We always eat pancakes with marmalade, thus increasing their glycemic index even further.
  • Nowadays, pancakes are also eaten with sugary sauces (chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, etc) which are also problematic for one’s health and should be avoided at any cost.

The Healthy Solution for Pancakes

Replace conventional pancakes with healthy low-carb pancakes. That was easy, right? You don’t have to cut on the taste, in fact low-carb pancakes taste even better and are way more nutritious. You won’t find them in stores or in a restaurant, you’ll have to learn how to prepare them yourself.

There are 2 main types of low-carb pancakes that you can make:

  • flourless pancakes: egg and banana pancakes.
  • pancakes made using healthy flours (almond flour and coconut flour are some of the best choices).

What makes low-carb pancakes special?

  • they are gluten-free and low in sugar.
  • very easy to make, ready in 10 minutes.
  • can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a snack or meal replacement; they even work great after intense workout sessions.
  • they’re healthy for adults and kids.
  • fun to make with your kids.
  • provide healthy fats and healthy protein from nutrient dense sources (organic is even better).
  • they’re always cooked using healthy fats – raw butter or coconut oil instead of refined oils.
  • you can easily add your favorite flavors from healthy sources – think real chocolate, raw cacao, berries, low-carb marmalade, etc

Messy Banana and Egg Pancakes with Berries

The classical banana and egg pancakes just got a quick version. Topped with freshly made blueberries and blackberries jam, these are super healthy and always tasty.
Check out this recipe
Top view with a freshly baked low-carb homemade pizza.

With this homemade pizza, I wouldn't go back to "regular pizza" for anything.

Pizza

I love pizza and, until a few years ago, I used to eat a lot of it. That was until I realized what real food is, why pizza is not good for health and how my taste buds are tricked into believing that I’m eating something “good”.

Let’s find out below what are some of the health problems associated with common pizza and what other alternatives are out there.

The Trouble with Pizza

  • Frozen pizza is very popular, very cheap to produce, relatively cheap to buy but way too unhealthy to be considered “safe for eating”.
  • Most of the “fresh” pizza is also unhealthy since the dough is almost always ready made. Plus, the ingredients used are most often of the lowest quality. Nobody cares what kind of olives they use in a pizza, if the meat comes from grass-fed animals, etc.
  • Unless stated otherwise, pizza is almost always prepared using low quality ingredients, it has no active enzymes, and little to no vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. It is a bread cooked in the oven, on top of which they add some melted cheese, questionable meat and ketchup.
  • The dough contains a lot of gluten, which could damage your gut and it’s also a problem for the immune system.
  • Pizza is always high in carbs, there’s no way around this. And since it’s made using refined oils (oxidized, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils), pizza is definitely a recipe for disaster.
  • Without the herbs and spices used (coriander, dill, parsley, basil, garlic, chili, pepper) pizza wouldn’t have much taste. The spices make the pizza, the rest is unfortunately just bread with some toppings.
  • Frozen pizza will always contain additives and preservatives to extend shelf life for months of even years.
  • Sometimes even pizza served in a restaurant will be ready made in advance. Of course, this doesn’t happen in traditional restaurants, but as you go far away from Italy, this can happen more and more. Why? First, because it’s very easy for the restaurants and it’s also cheaper. And since most of the clients won’t feel the difference anyway, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
  • Pizza is not a nutritious food, so it doesn’t keep hunger away.
  • Pizza doesn’t come cheap. A decent restaurant pizza can cost 15-20 Eur, which is expensive considering that you can cook a big meal for 2 persons on that money.
  • The sauces contain too much sugar, are almost always made in a factory and most often contain additives and preservatives.
  • Have you noticed how much dough you get and how little veggies, cheeses, meats, olives are in the average pizza?
  • Pizza is one of those foods that will feed you “empty” calories and will eventually trigger those sugar cravings.

The Healthy Solution for Pizza

Replacing traditional pizza with any of the low-carb pizza variations will change the focus from just the taste to a nutrient dense meal that has a wonderful taste.

Here’s why low-carb pizza is better:

  • The dough is always prepared using healthy ingredients – almond and coconut flour, chia seeds or hemp seeds, sometimes with other gluten-free flours.
  • In this healthy version, the dough is always gluten free since the flours used do not contain any gluten.
  • Low-carb pizza is very popular in the keto and low-carb communities. This kind of pizza is prepared using healthy oils like extra virgin coconut oil or coconut oil.
  • Contrary to what you may think, making it yourself is not rocket science. You need a good recipe, a free Sunday afternoon and some patience in case you fail the first time. Otherwise, it’s just like a walk in the park.

An alternative could be a sourdough pizza:

  • Sourdough refers to the process used to ferment the dough (at least 24h, preferably a 2-3 days).
  • The dough should be fermented until all the gluten has been neutralized.
  • The fermentation process will make for a dough that’s easier to digest, since it contains less to no gluten.
  • Can be made from flours that traditionally have less gluten: Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt flour.
  • Can be made from rye flour which has even less gluten.
  • Did you know that you can buy sourdough pizza in some of the best restaurants?

More considerations related to preparing a healthy pizza:

  • Has to be prepared using fresh ingredients – preferably organic, responsibly grown, no canned foods, sauces to always be freshly made in-house.
  • Pizza made from low-carb flours will always be healthier compared to traditionally made doughs that use white flours.
  • No additives and preservatives – from the dough, to the meat, to the sauce and toppings, to cooking the pizza, everything should be prepared in-house.
Top view with a glass of green smoothie held in hand.

Homemade smoothies are one of my favorite ways to start the day.

Supermarket Smoothies

I love smoothies, I enjoy them daily and I find they are a great way to include more nutrients into your diet. When I say smoothies I also include nice creams, smoothie bowls, and even vegan ice creams. They’re a great way to add more veggies into your diet while keeping the sugar content low most of the time.

Let’s see what are the common problems associated with supermarket smoothies and how you can get your hands on a healthy smoothie for a change.

The Trouble with Supermarket Smoothies

  • Most of the store bought smoothies are pasteurized – pasteurization kills the enzymes and phytonutrients in plants, also lowering their vitamin and mineral content.
  • There’s a limited number of options to choose from, and one can get bored with the same taste fast.
  • Freshly made smoothies (you can find those in smoothie bars) are usually a bit too expensive.
  • Most of the smoothies contain too much fruit and so they end-up having a high glycemic index.
  • Too much fruit can negate the benefits of vitamins and minerals.
  • They’re always stored and served in plastic – plastic is an environmental toxin that also accumulates in our bodies.
  • Most smoothies have way too much water, water being the main ingredient.
  • Preservatives and pasteurization are used to increase shelf life, both of which are unhealthy ways to manage food.
  • In terms of hygiene, we never know how the plants are handled, what blenders they use, etc.
  • Most smoothies come in small bottles so you’ll need to buy more than one to get real health benefits.
  • Most smoothie don’t work as meal replacements, since most of them lack nutrients and come with too much water.

The Healthy Solution for Smoothies

The solution is to make your own smoothies at home, using the best fresh ingredients you can buy.

Here’s why making your own smoothies is the best (and cheapest) solution:

  • You are in control of the ingredients – this makes it healthier compared to store-bought smoothies.
  • Buy organic if you can – more nutrients and sometimes the same price.
  • You can drink it fresh from the blender, which means less oxidation and more nutrients for you.
  • You’ll never pasteurize your homemade smoothie – you get all the enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, plus soluble fiber.
  • Buying frozen veggies and berries is always cheaper and they come with the same nutrients and health benefits as the fresh ones.
  • Buying frozen organic plants will always be cheaper compared to fresh organic plants.
  • You can definitely make your smoothie as thick as you want – more nutrient dense compared to “conventional” smoothies.
  • Store many veggies in the fridge and change the recipe daily – you’ll never get bored with your homemade smoothies.
  • Add lots of healthy fats whenever you want – avocado, coconut oil, coconut milk, nut butters – these are all great for health, energy, body composition, digestion, mood, brain, sleep, all your body.
  • It makes sense to buy some plants organic, since some can have more toxins (pesticide residues) compared to others. You can buy the rest from conventional sources.

Yummy Green Smoothie with Spinach and Avocado

This recipe is the perfect example of how you can combine veggies, fruits, and spices into one nourishing easy-to-blend smoothie.
Check out this recipe
Two servings of Yummy Green Smoothie with Spinach and Avocado.

Epilogue

I know this is a long article but I really hope that I inspired you to be more alert when it comes to the foods you’re eating or the choices you’re making. After all, if you don’t care about your body nobody will.

Most of the time we don’t give the food the importance it deserves. We need to learn how to appreciate real food; we need to appreciate healthy sources; we need to learn the correct way of cooking our food. Food is more than just a simple fuel, food is alive, food is a big part of us being healthy or sick, having more energy, thinking positive or having mood swings. Food is definitely related to the chronic health issues we see today (weight gain, depression, sleep problems, cancers, chronic pain, muscle gain or muscle loss, and the list can go on and on).

Food is too important to ignore it and yet we delegate our food choices to restaurants, fast-food chains, or food factories. Most often we see food as numbers in terms of calories, and we try to compensate for bad food choices with going to the gym. But it doesn’t work this way! Bad food choices can take weeks or months of healthy food choices to get you back on track. Eating unhealthy foods will do so much damage and yet, sometimes we don’t realize it until it’s too late.

Food is beautiful and yet few people understand and appreciate it besides taste. Your food doesn’t start in the kitchen, food starts in the soil where it was planted and on the farm where the animals live. Food has a life of its own and we have to learn how to appreciate it. we need to have respect for what we’re eating.

To be a foodie is great. To eat real food is a completely different thing. Real food has a smell, taste, aroma, passion and love. And that’s even before it was cooked. Imagine how powerful it can be once it was prepared correctly and with love. Choose real food and your body will thank you for it by keeping disease away from you, bursting with energy and positive thinking.

Food is a gift, but are we appreciating it the way it deserves? How do you feel about cooking your own food?

Marcel Corbeanu

Marcel Corbeanu

Hi, I'm Marcel! I'm a health coach, I write about health and wellness and I love cooking healthy food with fresh and simple ingredients.

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