In this day and age, our food choices are abundant. No longer do we have to forage for food or prepare for times when food supply is scarce. Depending on where you live, you seldom can go a mile without seeing at least one fast-food joint staring you in the face with its enticing $5-or-less deals. Even if you live in a small town, you’re still highly likely to see these places. Our country is the capital of fast-food.

But it doesn’t stop there. How about the hundreds of options of sit-down chain and local restaurants that are out there? My point is that we have everything we need in regards to food, and then some. Having all these options available to us makes it extremely easy to want to try something new and delicious every time we go out to eat. Hell, even when we’re at the grocery store to buy food for the house we’re inundated with these options. Who hasn’t said something along the lines of the following to themselves at some point: “I’m out at this wonderful restaurant with all these delicious foods, and I don’t come here very often, so it would be a waste of an opportunity to not get that pasta dish or that dessert” or “I’m always coming to this grocery store and they have healthy options, but I don’t know what to do with them, so I’ll just get something easy (and processed) that I’m sure of. And it says “pure” and “gluten-free” on the box, so that’s cool.”

Hyperpalatable foods are those foods that are extremely tasty to us. These foods generally fall into one of the three categories of salty, sweet, or savory, or a combination of all, which is very common. Food manufacturers and fast-food chains know what they’re doing when it comes to this. For example, how many times have you seen a Taco Bell commercial that boasts its “brand new” loaded nachos or tacos with different flavors and new food combinations? I see this all the time, and there’s nothing new about it. It’s just a different combination of the same shitty foods that makes it more appealing to us.

Our brains like novelty, especially when it comes to food. After all, why would you continue to eat the same thing or choose something “boring” when you can have something more attractive? Fair enough, but have you considered how this may be affecting your health? It’s easy to lose sight of our health because we often don’t feel or see the effects of a poor meal or the accumulation of poor meals until weeks, months, or even years later. So, it’s easy to choose instant gratification over long-term progress. However, lucky for us, having so many options available still leaves the door open for healthy eating, even if we’re not fully aware of it.

With some minor tweaks, resourcefulness, and a bit of creativity, we can use our desire for novelty to our advantage by choosing hyperpalatable foods that actually have nutritional value and resemble the garbage foods, with zero nutritional value, that we are so used to eating. It’s a bit more challenging to do this when eating out because the food industry has been slow to provide truly healthier alternatives that are appetizing and because many go with cheaper food options. Who doesn’t want to save money and make more money, right? However, there is always a way to eat healthy foods in an enjoyable way. We just need to stop making excuses for ourselves and train our egos to deal with a little bit of trial and error.

I’ll provide strategies on how to choose better options and do what I like to call “minimizing the damage” when eating out in a future article. In this article, I’ll give you my top 5 hyperpalatable food alternative options for cooking at home. This, I hope, will give you some ideas and spark your imagination a bit for creating dishes that resemble the less-nutritious foods you’ve been used to eating.

5) Spaghetti Squash Pizza Pie

This was one of the first recipes I ever made for myself. It obviously resembles pizza (probably my favorite “off-meal” food), and I have played around with adding different ingredients I would normally get on pizza. Things like mushrooms, spinach, and bell peppers. It doesn’t get much simpler than this folks. It’s a staple in my household and an easy, healthy dish that I can always fall back on if I’m running short on time for meal prep.

4) Paleo Nachos

You like nachos? Yeah, me too. Who doesn’t?! Well, instead of taking a drive over to the local restaurant/bar or Taco Bell, give this easy recipe a shot. This is a new favorite of mine that I tried for the first time over the holidays when I was craving some comfort food. It is absolutely delicious and I found that using Japanese Sweet Potatoes is also a great option if you’re not into yams. They have a texture that’s more similar to a regular potato. Get after it!

3) Keto Breakfast Egg Bites

I took this recipe and made it my own. Another breakfast staple in Coach Adrian’s household. Once you get the basics down, you can do anything you want with this recipe. I normally add a mix of bell peppers and onions to the bites so I can get some veggies in first thing in the morning.

These resemble the Starbucks egg bites. Have you tried them things??? Amazing! Then I decided to dig a little deeper into the Starbucks nutrition facts…Sorry but, spoiler alert…Check out the ingredients. Garbage! Want more preservatives or processed junk in your gut? Yeah, me either. Make these instead. They’re way too easy.

2) Butternut Squash Brownies

Full credit goes out to my mom for this one! Just tried these last weekend, and wow. Talk about satisfying your chocolate craving and doing it with more nutritious ingredients! Slowly work your way up to darker chocolate chips above 70% so you can get more nutritional benefit from it. If you’re cool with dark chocolate already, I’d recommend this brand for 85% dark chocolate, sprinkled into the brownies. There are others out there that are in the form of chocolate chips, just check the ingredients and try to keep them to a minimum and real like the Primal Chocolate brand I linked to.

1) Greek Fro-Yo

I take full credit for this one, and it’s something that I love having that resembles frozen yogurt for me. I absolutely love frozen yogurt. I love the feeling of creating my own custom combination of garbage on rare occasions. My go-to is vanilla or chocolate fro-yo, Oreos, Kit Kats, Reese’s, peanut butter, and hot fudge; and it’s oh so good. But I can’t tell you when the last time was that I had fro-yo because I’ve found myself a wonderful alternative combination that resembles it very well, just through experimentation. I start with a base of full-fat Fage Greek Yogurt (to resemble the vanilla fro-yo) and I top it with almond butter and 85% Primal Chocolate (to get that feel of the hot fudge), and I finish it with some mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries) to provide a nice sweet flavor to it. That does the trick for me and I know I’m still getting plenty of nutritional value from these foods while satisfying my craving for fro-yo.

It’s that simple. You just have to adhere to the “Do Something” Principle, which states that if you’re stuck on a problem or feeling overwhelmed by the thought of doing it, just do something, however small, to get yourself started, and doing that something will spark new ideas and motivation to continue. Once you make it a habit and experience the benefits of choosing healthier alternatives, you won’t want to go back to the other stuff.