First up: I'm not doing it. The whole Junk-free June thing? Na. I'm trying to do (mostly) Junk-free Life. By mostly, I mean that when I'm on a date or attending an event, then I can eat treats. I am not going to say "no thank you" to the birthday cake you've made or the cookies you cut into hearts on Mothers' Day. But day-to-day, running errands or doing the grocery shopping? I no longer swing by the bakery for a bear's claw, pick up baklava / turkish delight (hold the kebab) or go in for Subway...cookies. I no longer justify any morning outing as an excuse for a drive-thru hash brown. It all had to stop. Because I was feeding a monster inside that was never. satisfied.
So when so many people around me are Junk-Free-Juning, I respect what they're doing. They're reminding that insatiable junk-monster who's boss (or trying to, it's so hard, I know). It would be better if I didn't, but I am someone who likes to treat herself. Comfort and emotional eating? Yes, sometimes. Also -- just a love of delicious food. So when I'm trying to reduce junk (for me this is anything that is heavily refined and/or loaded with sweeteners), it helps for me to find savoury, less-refined/sugary treats. These are not my wholesome foods, they are my new naughtiest foods (which I think are the less evil).
Everyone has such varied ideas about what is classed as "bad" food. I'm not afraid of all fats. I avoid fried foods and refined-sugary foods, but I eat cheese, some butter, things cooked in olive oil, a range of carbs, and fruit.
Here are 8 things I consider treats that I do not consider junk food*:
- Sushi with brown rice (or a brown rice sushi ball). Yes, most places add some sugar and mayo to the rice, but I do not consider brown rice sushi to be a breach of the no junk terms (unless you get "crispy chicken" in there -- remind yourself, "crispy" in this case means "FRIED IN FAT" chicken. Order it by that name, if you're gonna eat it; admit what you're doing).
- Dumplings. One of the best things on the menu at our favourite restaurant is gyoza. But you know what? They're really just generic vegetable dumplings that most restaurants purchase from an Asian grocer. In fact, my Asian grocer confirmed which brand. The downside for these: many contain MSG. The plus side: if you make them at home, you can steam them or pan fry in a smidgen of coconut oil and they are not a sugar, fatty treat. They're an MSG treat if you buy pre-made though. I don't count them as junk. They're cutting a corner for sure though. Homemade would be the ultimate win.
- Pan-seared Haloumi. Heavens. I love this. You don't need to add anything to it. Just slice the cheese and drop it into a fairly hot skillet. Flip it. Eat it. Maybe in secret, because sharing is hard. It gives me a similar satisfaction to bacon or beer-batter fries (both things I class as junk food), only Haloumi just isn't as bad, to me. This is not where you break down why it is. Please don't.
- Pistachios. Just a handful. Licking the shells. Moderately-good-fat. Not a doughnut.
- Yoghurt suckies. I do not deem these just for the kids. They are two brands I buy, both of which only sweeten the yoghurt with fruit juice concentrate. When all of the savoury treats are failing to beat the monster into submission, this is the bone I throw. It is portion-controlled, contains good cultures, and has the kind of sugar I'm comfortable in having now and then. Uno has loads of sugar. I'm talking about The Collective brand suckies and Moo gurt.
- Roasted coconut. I have grilled shavings in the oven, sprinkled salt, and then consider these like dessert chips. A few is enough too.
- Fruit salad. If you haven't had a good one in a while, it's time you made one and reminded yourself how good they actually can be and how well they can make you feel like you've had dessert. No, it isn't a brownie / steamed pudding, but it is sweet, and with pineapple / strawberries / blueberries / sliced almonds / something other than banana, apple, peaches and pears -- it helps.
- Thai food. For me, ordering my favourite dish (Yum Neua - a spicy coriander/chilli/lime/garlic/onion/chargrilled chicken salad) is a treat. It isn't a creamy/fried/satay thing, it is fresh and clear-sauced and not sweet. It is on the pricier side, but I'm saving by not buying all those soft and buttery cookies and whatnot. Also: this dish never makes me feel heavy, bloated or guilty. In fact, it clears my sinuses, when I'm not well.
I think the key thing I am looking for in reducing my junk food intake, is reducing my refined sugar intake. When I give the inner monster loads of sugar, it wants more. When I eat something TASTY that isn't sugary, I win, and the monster shrinks. This is one of those times I wish I staying on top of comments was something I want to do -- because I'd love to hear your suggestions -- and I'd love for you to be read other people's great ideas. But alas, they're staying off. But you can email me always, and I welcome it.
If you're doing this thing -- the Junk-free June-age -- may the force be with you.