Healthy Twist on a “Cheat Meal”



By Bernice Kwan

Regular healthy eating can be a very enjoyable experience, but every now and then, you may crave that certain something that you know is more detrimental than beneficial for your well-being. A popular diet plan that is preached by many health enthusiast and followed by many health conscious individuals is an entire week of healthy eating and one meal of any comfort food of your choice. This pattern is very popular because it keeps you in check for most of the week but also allows you to indulge every now and then. If this is something that you follow, it is likely that once a week, there will come a time where you think “It’s finally here, cheat meal time!” You have been doing so well and absolutely deserve it!

That meal, however, does not actually cheat the system and it still contributes to your overall health. If you find yourself feeling a little guilty about your comfort foods, you may want to find a way to have with a healthy twist. Luckily, healthy ingredients can be used to make a delectable meal! Here are slightly healthier variations of 2 popular cheat meals!



Pizza often gets a bad rep for being one of the ultimate “unhealthy foods”!  But, there are lots of ways to give pizza a health makeover!

Pizza with Pesto, Tomatoes & Feta:

  • 1 pound whole-wheat prepared pizza dough
  • ½ cup prepared pesto
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (dairy free alternative: nutritional yeast)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn
  1. Heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch round crust, about ¼ inch thick. Place crusts on a floured baking sheet.
  3. Put the crust in the oven and bake until crusts are lightly puffed and undersides are lightly browned.
  4. Take crusts out and using tongs, flip crusts. Immediately spread pesto over crusts. Top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with feta and pepper. Put back in oven and bake until the undersides are lightly browned. Sprinkle with basil and serve immediately.

By using whole-wheat dough, you have more complex-carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients. Basil will give your pizza a kick, and has an array of health benefits. Refer to for more details!


Tacos are easy to make and tasty, two characteristics that make it a perfect cheat meal. Though tasty they may be, if you’re not paying attention, tacos can deliver more calories and fat than they have to! With the right combo of ingredients, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Turkey Tacos

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb 95% lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Whole wheat small tortillas
  • Nutritional yeast (cheese alternative), diced Roma tomatoes, diced red onion, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, plain greek yogurt (sour cream alternative) for serving
  1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add turkey and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing and breaking up turkey occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes until sauce has reduced.
  4. Serve mixture over tortillas with desired toppings.

Lean ground turkey is a good alternative to regular taco meat because it is a good source of complete protein, is a rich iron source, contains B vitamins, and contains less saturated fat than higher fat meats. Another alternative suggestion for this recipe is to replace the tortillas with Romaine lettuce leaves to switch out the carbohydrates for a refreshing dose of veggies!

Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t have your favorite foods! There are many ways you can choose to modify the recipe and you could even end up enjoying your new creation better than the original!

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