This post is part of a series of monthly posts by Valentina M. Read her story below and follow her on Instagram @thehealthymexican9 and on PumpUp @thehealthymexican. 

Though we’re all making smart choices, eating minimal processed foods and loading up on healthy veggies, grains, lean protein, I was wondering the other day if I was alone in thinking : Am I ever going to eat pizza, pasta or sweets again?  

The answer is no, I am not the only one thinking of that and of course we are going to eat ‘cheat’ meals once in a while. But if we are going to cheat we still have to be smart.

I posted the other day about my cheat meal of the week and read that other members also think that cheat meals aren’t that bad. I don’t think it is the end of the world if we cheat once in a while. In fact, we can eat whatever  we love the most! Just don’t eat it to death.

A “cheat meal” might be a way of keeping you on track in the long-term and realisticallyIt helps most people to stick to their healthy lifestyles, because being healthy won’t mean never having pizza, cotton candy or hamburgers again. If candies are your jam, have one or two candies. That is enough of a cheat. You don’t need a whole box of sweets. Each item counts, so don’t just lump a bunch of bad choices into one day and call it a Cheat Meal. You’ll start to feel bad about yourself and sabotage all the hard work you’re doing.  

At the beginning of your new healthy life, cheating can become a problem because it easy to give up, but don´t worry. We can always have a new beginning. So if you are afraid of cheating and think that you will not control yourself (which is a lie because we can control anything we want to), I thought it would be great to satisfy our desire of a cheat meal with a healthier choice.

I’ve always been one of those people who needs something sweet. So here are two less guilty ways to indulge any sweet tooth: 1. A Healthy Vegan Caramel Sauce to serve with our protein pancakes. 2. A Carrot “Cake” Oatmeal Cookie so you don’t eat an unhealthy cookie or cake.

For the people that love to eat salty fried food or carbs like pasta I want to share with you two healthier options to eat that I read on a magazine the other day: 1. Avocado “Pesto” Pasta and Zucchini Fritters.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

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Ingredients

  • 2 Avocados
  • ½  cup Basil, fresh leaves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup corn, canned kernels
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 12 oz Whole wheat Spaghetti
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Olive oil

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the whole wheat pasta according to package instructions.

To make the avocado “pesto” sauce, combine avocados, basil, cloves of garlic and lemon juice in the mixer or food processor. Add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside. Season it with salt and pepper. In a large bowl combine pasta, avocado “pesto” sauce, cherry tomatoes and corn.

Zucchini Fritters

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Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini  
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.

"Carrot Cake" Oatmeal Cookie

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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup Carrots (shredded)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Maple syrup
  • 1 cup Oats
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil or coconut butter  

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the maple syrup until thoroughly incorporated. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in the carrots. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop the cookie dough into 15 rounded scoops on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Healthy Vegan Caramel Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon

Directions

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir to combine all the ingredients and bring the mix to the boil. Keep cooking the caramel until it darkens and thickens, stirring occasionally. Once the caramel has thickened, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.  Serve the caramel in a clean container or jar. Note* the caramel will stay fresh in the fridge for around a week.

With Love,

Valentina