Hallelujah! We made it through the dreaded month that is January, usually full of rainy, cold weather and exams, revision and lots of stress. So now that it’s over, you (well, some of you) might feel all that hard work should be rewarded.
But if you’re like me, every time you reward yourself with a bar, glass or bowl of something naughty, the pleasure is ruined by the over-riding sense of guilt that spoils your treat. However, here are a few foods that are usually popular on the guilty list, but shone in a good light for a change…
Yes, that’s right. Chocolate. Not only is it full of antioxidants, fibre, iron and loads of minerals but studies have also linked cocoa to lowering blood pressure and improving brain function. However, bear in mind these benefits are really only seen in dark chocolate, with around 70-85% cocoa solids – not the Dairy Milk/Galaxy stuff. This isn’t an excuse to go out and fill your shopping basket with the stuff; it isn’t the next super food. Just remember, next time your chocolate cravings stir, reach for a few pieces of dark chocolate or some of these low fat alternatives:
Muller Light Smooth Chocolate Desserts: Little pots of heaven in my opinion with only 99kcal and 1.2g saturated fats per serving; they are definitely a guiltless pleasure. You can find them in most supermarkets at around £2.00 for a pack of 4, also great for your packed lunches too.
Chocolate Pancakes: With this recipe, you don’t need to use chocolate just cocoa powder which is much better for you. They taste so much more indulgent than they actually are, and are a very quick fix to those cravings!
Of course, not the takeaway type that are usually dripping in grease! Why not try making your own, it’s so much easier than you think and a great way to get your flatmates involved in designing your own pizzas. What’s more, there are so many ways you can make it guilt-free!
Swap the heavy dough for wholemeal tortilla wraps, bagels, English muffins or pitta breads. They crisp up lovely in the oven, and who really eats the crusts anyway?
Try using ricotta, a lower fat creamy soft cheese, rather than piles of mozzarella or cheddar which will send the calorie and fat levels through the roof. Don’t like ricotta? Buy half fat or reduced fat versions of your favourite cheese instead.
Avoid ‘meat feasts’… There isn’t really any need to have every type of meat under the sun so maybe just stick to chicken strips or tuna if you like, for a healthier option.
Most importantly, load your pizzas with your favourite vegetables. Try some lovely roasted peppers, onions and tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms or even pineapple if you like a Hawaiian! It’s a great way to boost the nutritional content of your pizzas and really make it super healthy whilst still being super delicious.
My weakness. I could eat it by the tonne. But despite being high in saturated fats and calories, it is a great source of calcium, Vitamin A and B12. Most supermarkets and brands offer reduced fat cheeses now; my favourite is the Cathedral City version as it still has the great mature cheddar taste to it but with 30% less fat. My guilty pleasure is a big bowl of creamy, cheesy macaroni cheese which is obviously loaded with all things sinful. However, I’ve created a recipe which satisfies my cheese cravings but without the guilt reflex, so if you’re a guilty cheese lover then try it out!
Do you take your guilty pleasures outside the kitchen?
Lie-ins: Stop worrying about what you should be doing or where you are supposed to be (unless it’s a lecture – in that case, get up!)…Let yourself have a few hours extra in bed on your days off and catch up on some well deserved sleep which will boost your energy levels and improve your mood.
Partying: You may regret the night before after waking up with ringing ears and a banging headache, but people with a good social life have been proven to live longer and suffer less from heart disease, sleep problems and colds. Now this isn’t an excuse to go out every night thinking it’s going to give you an extra couple of years, but just don’t be hard on yourself when you’re out having a good time with friends whilst back at home you’ve got a pile of work to do (I’m the biggest culprit of this – I must practice what I preach!).
The key to this week’s blog is moderation! If you don’t follow this, you’re guilty pleasures will certainly become very guilty. I always think it’s nice to reward yourself with something you don’t have or do often as then it really feels special. It’s important to remember, you can always have too much of a good thing!