Healthy Junk Food – is it even possible? Yes, and we’ll show you how with a collection of healthy junk food recipes for kids, including their favorites!
They say that you should treat your body like a temple, keeping it pure and sacred. Unfortunately, we tend to forget this fact and throw in junk from time to time. Yes, I’m talking about junk food – food that contains unhealthy ingredients and empty calories without any nutrition. Besides these, junk food also has adverse effects on our health instead of the nourishment our body expects.
And when its kids who put this into their growing bodies, the effects are much more dangerous. At a time when they require the best possible nutrition, they’re getting loads of preservatives and excess oil, sugar and salt from processed and packed foods as well as other junk foods. This leads directly to obesity, which then cause several other illnesses. Here are some facts to prove how serious this is:
- It is estimated that by 2025, India will have over 17 million obese children
- The rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries is found to be greater than that of adults
- India has the second highest number of obese children in the world, next to China
- Two in three obese children will continue to be obese as adults, at risk for lifestyle diseases
Simply telling kids to stay away from junk food may not work, and we need to get creative about it. That’s why we’ve scoured the net and found 20 healthy junk food recipes – 20 healthy alternatives for common kiddie favorites that you can make at home, without much trouble. Let’s beat obesity and illness, and celebrate nutrition and good food!
20 Healthy Junk Food Recipes for Kids
Well, these have got to be kids’ number one favorite food when they’re out at a mall! With so many international burger chains opening up in even smaller cities, there are abundant options for kids. However, these are all packed with all kinds of unhealthy dressings and an unidentifiable patty, with hardly any vegetables at all.
However, we’ve got a perfect way to get those veggies in – with a homemade vegetable burger! And if you’re looking for a non vegetarian version, Detox Insta has a simple and healthy chicken burger made with fresh ingredients.
Pizza – a relatively new entrant in Indian households and one that kids demand on their birthdays. Much as we enjoy a delicious slice of pizza, the sheer amount of cheese in that slice can be shocking, not to mention the salt and sauces.
It’s hard to make pizza healthier, but wonder of wonders, it’s happened – at My Kids Lick the Bowl! Their Hidden Veggie Pizza Bread is a delicious recipe that looks as good as it tastes! If you’d like to try something with an Indian touch, check out our pizza dosa recipe.
3. French Fries
French fries are super addictive – forget one, I don’t think anyone can stop at ten! However, these crunchy bites are just laden with trans fat, which can cause all kinds of serious illnesses including cancer. Not to mention that all those calories can lead to obesity in kids.
But why worry when you have an option that’s just as good – or even better! Check out our Baked Sweet Potato Fries recipe, which combines the crunchiness of traditional French fries, without any of the bad stuff!
4. Potato Chips
Go to any supermarket and you’ll find pack after colorful pack of potato chips in all kinds of tempting flavors. Besides the fact that half the packets are just air, the chips themselves are so salty they’ll make you thirsty enough to drink a liter of water in one go!
Sadly, kids love those chips, but you can now outsmart these air/chips packs by making your own no-fry baked potato chips from Slender Kitchen! The best part is you can customize the flavor to your liking and add only as much salt as you want.
5. Hard Candy
For many of us, the sight of colorful hard candy reminds us of our childhood. These candies were often used as bribes or rewards, or swapped with friends. For all the nostalgia, these hard candies are often packed with nothing more than sugar and artificial colors.
You probably think that it’s impossible to find a healthier alternative to such candies, but you’re in for a surprise! Dehydrated fruit is an excellent option, since it gives you natural sweetness as well as a beautiful color. Try out these dehydrated strawberries from Feed Them Wisely or a dehydrated papaya recipe from Leaf TV.
6. Instant Noodles
What’s one thing every child, college student or Mom runs to when they’re in a rush? Instant noodles? Whether it’s the 2 minute or 5 minute variety, these noodles are immensely popular, but they’ve come under a good deal of flak as well. It’s no wonder, considering they’re made from 100% processed ingredients and contain loads of added flavors.
Before you say goodbye to this convenient meal option, allow us to introduce you to a healthier alternative – a 100% range of natural noodles, like this garlic soya noodles! If you want to use your own noodles, you can – with our homemade healthy noodles taste maker recipe.
7. Breakfast Cereal
After health drinks, breakfast cereals have got to be the product most touted as ‘health food’ but actually being far from it. Nearly all the breakfast cereals you see on supermarket shelves contain a lot of added sugar, not to mention artificial flavoring. Quite a few of them are highly processed too, so the convenience of it comes at a cost.
But not anymore, when you can make your own breakfast cereal, like our chocolate muesli recipe, that’ll give any other chocolate cereal out there a run for its money! Packed with nuts, seeds, dates, oats and honey, this is a healthy and delicious way to start your day!
8. Chocolate Chip Cookies
One of the most popular flavors among cookies has got to be chocolate chip. Biting into a delicious little bit of chocolate as you make your way through the crunchy cookie – it’s a feeling of bliss! However, that bliss does come at a price – of lots of sugar, refined flour and chemical preservatives.
It’s really easy to find a healthier alternative to store bought chocolate chip cookies, like our whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe. Made from only whole wheat flour, bananas and chocolate chips, these are eggless, dairy free and sugar free as well!
9. Ice Cream
Few things can match the joy of a frozen treat dripping down your fingers on a hot day, as you slurp away at its sweetness. But what you’re slurping may well be lots of sugar, milk solids and fruit-identical artificial flavors. What a killjoy!
Not anymore! When you have frozen yogurt, it’s just as good as ice cream – or even better! It’s natural, got real fruit, no preservatives and it also contributes to your gut health. Check out A Sweet Pea Chef for frozen yogurt in a variety of flavors.
10. Fruit Juice
Fruit juices are a hot point of debate among parents. On one hand you have experts telling us that it’s always better to go for whole fruits instead of juice. On the other hand we have parents saying that at least this is one way to get the kids to eat more fruit! While both points are valid, the truth is that packaged fruit juices aren’t only fruit – they contain lots of other unwanted substances as well, and are also pretty high in calories.
While we can all remember childhood days spent with our favorite mango frooti, it’s still a packaged product. However, we know how you can relive that childhood joy – with our DIY Mango Frooti concentrate! Yes, now you can make your favorite mango drink right at home and share with your kids.
Cupcakes! A single word that can bring so much joy to everyone’s faces! No wonder that cupcakes have become a mainstay at children’s parties and celebrations, with so many gorgeous, innovative designs coming up, creating a culture of ‘designer cupcakes’. Yet, as we all know, cupcakes are usually made with refined flour and refined sugar, and don’t even get me started on the frosting.
Now there’s another group waiting nearby – they look like cupcakes, but aren’t as fancy or glamorous. Yes, we’re talking about muffins! Try our Sprouted Ragi Chocolate Muffins for example; they’ve got ragi, whole wheat flour, jaggery and dried dates powder – just wholesome goodness!
I have to admit, I love my samosas, but the problem is that I can’t stop eating one! Samosas are among most kids’ favorites at any festive occasion, or at kiddie parties. It’s so cute to watch them gobble up the samosas, but the thought of the excess oil and refined flour is worrying.
And that’s where Vegan Richa comes into the picture with her whole wheat, baked samosas stuffed with moong dal! This recipe is a pleasant change from the usual potatoes, and also packs a protein punch!
13. Chocolate Bars
I know many kids for whom a trip to the supermarket is incomplete without a chocolate bar in their hands! Chocoholics can range from 0-100 years of age and even beyond! Now if only we could make a chocolate bar that was healthier than the generic store bought variety!
Actually, you can! Check out Cookie and Kate’s recipe for Chocolate Bark, which contains all sorts of healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Perfect alternative to sugar-laden chocolate bars!
14. Chicken Nuggets
Fried chicken is a popular option for kids and teenagers when eating out, and even some adults! There are quite a few options too, like fried chicken as such, or chicken nuggets or fingers or popcorn. While these are delicious, the problem is that they’re a long way from a fresh chicken dish, and often contain heaps of recycled oil.
That’s why we absolutely love these chicken nuggets from Cooking Classy! These nuggets are made from scratch with boneless chicken breast, spices and olive oil and the best part – they’re baked instead of fried!
15. Fizzy Drinks
Fizzy drinks have seen some hard core advertising particularly targeted towards the younger crowd. The ‘unhealthiness’ of these are no secret anymore, with people realizing that they’re better suited to cleaning your toilet than pouring down your throat! Yet, these are still popular, particularly with other junk food like burgers or fried chicken.
The solution? Going back to our ancestors who had the perfect healthy alternative – sharbat! There are many kinds of sharbat like nannari sharbat or sattu sharbat, or a kokum sharbat from Hebbar’s Kitchen. All of these are formulated to tackle hydration, while also refreshing kids during a hot day!
16. Chocolate Spread
It’s hard to find any human being who can’t lick clean a spoon of chocolate spread, particularly hazelnut spreads like Nutella. Unfortunately, yummy as it may be, Nutella contains a huge amount of sugar, which isn’t doing anyone any favors.
But before you sink into a well of depression, here’s hope – in the form of a homemade Nutella spread from Savory Lotus! This version is dairy free and uses healthy ingredients for a delicious treat!
Who doesn’t love brownies? Those thick slices of chocolate gooeyness and fudginess – it’s enough to send anyone into a chocolate coma! If you’ve ever baked brownies yourself, you know how much sugar and butter goes into those things – and it can make your head spin!
However, there is a way to have your brownie and eat it too – with our fudgy cocoa brownies recipe that uses whole wheat flour, vegetable oil, honey and yogurt. Now you have a decadent delicacy that’s not packed with unhealthy ingredients.
18. Ice Pops
Here’s another childhood favorite for most of us – ice pops! Those long tubes filled with frozen colored water – it was such fun sipping on them with friends on a hot summer’s day. We didn’t realize then that they were far from healthy, but we do know better now!
You can recreate that same childhood magic at home now, with a single Popsicle having multiple colors! Yes, our Fresh Fruit Popsicles are just that – fresh fruits and coconut water – 100% natural refreshment and nothing else!
19. Cream-filled Cookies
Cream filled cookies like Oreos are a huge hit with kids, probably because of all that advertising on kids’ TV channels. Most kids even eat it the way they show it on TV – separating the two cookies, licking off the cream and then dunking it in milk! There’s nothing wrong with eating cookies that way – what’s wrong is the huge amount of refined ingredients going into it, especially when you consider both the cookies and cream have sugar.
You might think it’s impossible to make this a healthy treat, but A. Vogel proves you can! Check out their recipe for vegan and gluten free Oreo cookies, which you can customize by using dairy and wheat if you like.
Doughnuts (or donuts) are a fun food, specially designed for kids to grab, with that hole in the middle! Several international donut chains have opened shop in India too, and while they look pretty lying in glass shelves, they’re also packed with more sugar than you can imagine, not to mention being deep fried!
But we have Simply Quinoa here to help, with a baked banana chocolate donut recipe that’s a delight to make and eat! This recipe uses all healthy ingredients like peanut butter, banana oats, coconut sugar and almond milk for a yum treat that’s not too heavy!