Organic peanut butter cups, quinoa chicken nuggets and low-fat cheesy chips: How to make HEALTHY junk food at home

  • Human beings are wired to crave fatty and salty unhealthy foods 
  • Simple tweaks to ingredients transform guilty foods into saintly pleasures 
  • Experiment with seasonings such as mustard powder and cayenne pepper 

We may all have the best of intentions when it comes to healthy eating but there are times when nothing but junk food will do.

There is something undeniably comforting about a bowl of cheese-covered chips or a large, decadent slice of chocolate cake that cannot be replicated with a stick of celery or a large salad.

And it has been proven that we are wired to crave unhealthy foods.

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Reaching the bliss point: Research has revealed that people are wired to crave unhealthy foods

Reaching the bliss point: Research has revealed that people are wired to crave unhealthy foods

In his book, The End of Overeating, David Kessler MD's research revealed that people have a 'bliss point' state we reach when certain taste buds are triggered by fat, sugar and salt.

This bliss point gives us an intensely pleasurable taste experience - almost like a drug - that kicks all our pleasure receptors into overdrive, which is why we keep craving them, even when they may not be very good for the waistline.

But just because a food has an unhealthy reputation does not mean that it cannot be made healthy.

Cheesy fries can be transformed from fatty and salty to something less unhealthy with just a few simple tweaks.

In Women's Health, chef Kerry Neville creates a version of the comfort food using sliced potatoes which are roasted, fat-free milk, low fat cheese and an abundance of seasonings such as cayenne pepper, mustard powder and pepper.

And even the most discerning diner would think twice about turning their nose up at a revamped childhood favourite: chicken nuggets but made with a quinoa crust.

Instead of indulging in shop bought chicken nuggets make your own with a quinoa crumb (pictured)

Instead of indulging in shop bought chicken nuggets make your own with a quinoa crumb (pictured)

Blogger Crème de la Crumb's quinoa chicken nuggets are baked instead of fried and as an additional bonus, are protein-packed as quinoa is a protein-rich food.

Nutritionist Emma Wight-Boycott who loves to cook with her two young sons, has a myriad ways to transform sinful foods into saintly offerings.

The nutritionist and cook advises making your own pizza instead of always opting for takeaways and adding different flavours and spices to your mince when forming your beef or hamburgers.

She even has an alternative recipe (see below) for the ultimate guilty pleasure: peanut butter cups.

She writes on WatchFit: 'Often we have cravings that need something more; more fat, more flavour, more texture.

'Instead of ignoring these desires, you can work with your body; maintain your lust for food and keep your waistline at the same time.

'When chocolate is calling your name, learn how to make healthy food taste like junk food. 

'If you ever struggle with cravings for junk food, then you need to try these foods.'

Chocolate Moosey's homemade salt and vinegar crisps are soaked in vinegar before bring baked 

Chocolate Moosey's homemade salt and vinegar crisps are soaked in vinegar before bring baked 

'Sweet and salty are a combination you wouldn't ordinarily think match, but food manufacturers invest a lot of money in getting just the right combination of these two things, ' she writes.

If you're more of a crisp than a chocolate fiend, there is no need to despair.

Food blogger Chocolate Moosey's homemade salt and vinegar crisps are made using mandolined (very thinly sliced) potatoes which are soaked in vinegar and then baked instead of fried and according to her, taste as good, if not better than the shop-bought versions.

If it's Doritos you have a craving for, then chef and raw food coach Erica Albanese's Rawrito's might just hit the spot.

Swap pizza dough for a flatbread base to transform the Italian staple into something less less dense

Swap pizza dough for a flatbread base to transform the Italian staple into something less less dense

On her blog, she writes: 'Doritos are such a guilty pleasure for so many, it's great to be able to enjoy the taste and not worry about the side effects.'

Her twist on the popular tortilla-based snack food is made with sunflower seeds and frozen corn and liberally doused with seasonings.

Fed up of chocolate, tired of crisps but craving ice-cream? Why not have a sorbet instead?

Most shop-bought ice-creams are packed with sugar and fat but a home-made sorbet can be made using fresh, healthy ingredients.

And as you're making it yourself, there is also a chance to experiment with different fruits and flavours.

Jamie Oliver's Sorbetto di pere (pear sorbet) recipe from Jamie's Italy has grappa in it which makes it naughty but very nice.


Flatbread Bresaola, Mozzarella, Basil and Fig Pizza

Ingredients: Olive oil, for griddling; 2 Italian Style Piadinas flatbreads; 5 tablespoons fresh tomato and basil pasta sauce; eight to 10 slices of bresaola; 1 x 125g ball buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces; two figs, cut into five or six pieces; one tablespoon pine nuts; a handful of basil leaves

Method: Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C. Brush a griddle pan lightly with olive oil and heat until hot, then one at a time, place the Piadina into the pan and griddle for 1 minute. Remove the pizza bases and transfer to a large baking tray, griddled side up. Onto each base, divide half of the tomato sauce, mozzarella, bresaola, figs and pine nuts. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese begins to bubble. Scatter with the basil leaves and some seasoning to serve.

Recipe contributed by Mission Flatbreads 

Instead of loading your tacos with cheese, add some protein to the dish with gluten-free sausages 

Instead of loading your tacos with cheese, add some protein to the dish with gluten-free sausages 

Gluten-free Taco Sausage Bake

Ingredients: 1 pack gluten free sausages; 1 tablespoon sunflower oil; 1 onion, chopped; Two 390g cartons/tins chopped tomatoes; One 400g tin kidney beans, drained, rinsed; 125ml water; One 30g pack taco seasoning mix; six to eight gluten free taco shells, slightly broken; 150g grated cheese, such as Cheddar or Emmental; sour cream, optional

Method: Preheat oven to 180C, fan oven 160C, Gas Mark 4. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the sausages as per pack instructions, until cooked through and remove from the pan. Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft but not coloured. Add the tomatoes, beans, water and seasoning mix and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Spoon the tomato sauce into a lightly greased 30cm x 23cm baking dish or tin; add the sausages and sprinkle with the broken tacos. Cover with a layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and serve with sour cream.

Recipe contributed by spoiltpig  

Not a fan of tuna? Substitute it with salmon and your kale fish burger will still be healthy

Not a fan of tuna? Substitute it with salmon and your kale fish burger will still be healthy

Tuna and kale burgers

Ingredients: 500g Maris Piper potatoes, cut into chunks; two 200g cans tuna in spring water, drained; tw tablespoons tartare sauce; two tablespoons plain flour; 150g shredded kale; two tablespoons rapeseed oil

Method: Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 10-15 minutes until tender, drain and roughly mash. Gently mix in the tuna, tartare sauce and flour.

Meanwhile, steam the kale for four minutes and roughly chop. Stir into the potato mixture and season. Mould into 8 burgers and chill for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the burgers in 2 batches for one to two minutes each side until golden. Serve with a fresh green salad and roasted cherry tomatoes.

Recipe contributed by  

Protein-packed: These waffles are made with bananas, egg-whites and oat flour

Protein-packed: These waffles are made with bananas, egg-whites and oat flour

Protein Apple Waffles

Ingredients: One medium-large banana, mashed; two whole eggs; four egg whites; 50g oat flour (rolled oats blended finely); half tbsp baking powder; one teaspoon cinnamon; half teaspoon ginger, dash nutmeg, two teaspoons xylitol

Toppings: 1/2 apple (chopped into little pieces), Wheyhey Vanilla Ice-cream; cinnamon or xylitol; one-calorie spray oil

Method: Whisk together the banana, eggs, egg whites, oat flour and baking powder in a bowl (plus spices and xylitol) until combined. Lightly spritz your waffle maker with 1 calorie spray oil (to prevent the waffles from sticking ). Pour a third of the mixture (if your waffle maker has room for  two - or use one sixth of the mixture for one waffle) into the waffle maker, close and cook for five to six minutes (the cooking time will reduce as the waffle maker gets hotter). Heat the apple in a microwave for one minute & serve the apple on top of two to three waffles, before adding your ice-cream. 

Peanut butter brownies

Ingredients: 1/2 cup almond flour; six tablespoons cacao; two scoops whey protein; one egg; one teaspoon vanilla extract; 150g unsweetened apple puree; Two tablespoons chocolate peanut butter; four squares dark chocolate; two tablespoons coconut oil; one tablespoon natural sweetener (optional); one or two 150ml tubs of Wheyhey ice-cream

Method: Preheat oven to 180C then grease and line a loaf tin. To make the brownie, mix together the flour, cacao, protein and natural sweetener. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla and apple puree. Gently melt together the 4 squares of dark chocolate with coconut oil, then stir into the egg mixture. Mix into the dry mixture until just combined, then spoon in the peanut butter and give a good stir. Pour into the loaf tin, then bake the brownie for around 18-20 minutes so that it's still gooey, then leave to cool. Once the brownie is cool, cut into circles and set aside. Remove your mini Wheyhey tubs from the freezer and, using a sharp knife, cut through the tub to form circles of ice cream. Peel the Wheyhey wrapper from the ice cream circles, then sandwich between two brownie pieces.

Salted Caramel 'Magnums'

Ingredients: Two small tubs Wheyhey vanilla ice cream; 3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped and soaked in hot water for twp hours; one tablespoon Lucy Bee coconut oil, melted; sea salt, to taste; 100g dark chocolate (85 per cent or higher); A further teaspoon coconut oil

Method: Take your Wheyhey from the freezer and let it soften at room temperature for five to 10 minutes. Scoop it out and spoon into lollipop moulds, then place back in the freezer to firm up for a few hours. In the meantime, make your salted date sauce by draining the dates and blitzing with the melted coconut oil. Add sea salt to taste and continue to blend until smooth. Take your lolly moulds from the freezer and, once warmed slightly, remove them from the mould and place on baking paper. Spoon the date caramel over one side of each ice cream, then place back in the freezer to set overnight. In the morning, take out your ice creams, then gently melt the chocolate with the leftover coconut oil. Dunk each ice cream in the melted chocolate and allow to set, decorating with chopped nuts if desired. Enjoy!

Recipes contributed by Wheyhey ice-cream  

Peanut butter brownies
Salted caramel 'magnums'

Peanut butter brownies (left) and salted caramel 'magnums' (right) 

Apple and BBQ Pork Kebabs

Ingredients: Three tablespoons good quality mango chutney; One tablespoon cider vinegar; One tablespoon tomato puree; One garlic clove, crushed; Two tablespoons olive oil; One medium red onion; Two apples; 600g pork tenderloin, halved lengthwise and cut into 24 cubes

Method: Preheat the grill or BBQ to medium hot. Meanwhile to make the glaze, mix together the chutney, vinegar, tomato puree, garlic and one tablespoon of oil. Season generously.

Cut the onion in half and then cut each half into four pieces, to make eight pieces in total. Core the  apples and then cut each half into four wedges. Then cut each wedge in half to make 24 pieces in total.

Thread eight metal skewers each with one piece of onion and then alternate four pieces of Pink Lady® apple and three pieces of pork. Brush the skewers with the remaining oil and grill for two to three minutes turning halfway.

Then baste the skewers with the glaze and cook for a further eight to ten minutes, basting regularly, until lightly charred and cooked. Serve immediately.

Recipe contributed by Pink Lady Apples 

Apple and BBQ Pork Kebabs

Apple and BBQ Pork Kebabs

Cheesy Chips 

Ingredients: Potatoes; olive oil, black pepper, garlic powder; quarter cup flour, one and a quarter cups fat-free milk, cayenne pepper, mustard, salt, half a cup low fat cheddar

Method: Slice potatoes, toss them in olive oil and seasonings other than salt (such as black pepper or garlic powder) and bake on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 450˚F until they're tender and brown (about 30 minutes).

For the low-fat cheese sauce, whisk the flour  the fat-free milk. Then heat another cup of fat-free milk over medium heat.

Add the flour/milk mixture and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat and add a dash each of dry mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and the low-fat cheddar. Stir until the cheese melts, then pour over the fries.

Peanut butter cups

Ingredients: Six tablespoons coconut oil; five tablespoons cocoa, one tablespoon maple syrup, honey or stevia, organic peanut butter. 

Method:  Combine in a medium glass bowlthe  coconut oil, cocoa, maple syrup/honey or stevia. Heat until melted. Add a thin layer of these into cupcake moulds. Once hardened, add a teaspoon of organic peanut butter then top with remaining melted chocolate mixture. Place in fridge until firm.


Serving size: Approximately 64 triangular crackers

Other preparation: Be sure to soak sunflower seeds for eight to 12 hours prior (generally overnight or all day prior). Thaw frozen corn in fridge the night before.

Ingredients: Three cups sprouted sunflower seeds; four cups frozen corn, thawed; 1/2 cup Braggs; half cup water; quarter cup onion powder; one tablespoon garlic powder; two tablespoons taco seasoning; two tablespoons chilli powder; two tablespoons nutritional yeast topping; two tablespoons nutritional yeast; three tablespoons taco seasoning; two tablespoons chilli powder  

Method: Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend on high until the batter is well-blended. Cover your dehydrator trays with a Teflex Sheet and pour batter onto trays in a large square formation. Dehydrate until firm (usually overnight or morning until evening) and then flip. When you flip them is when you add the topping. Simply blend the nutritional yeast, chili powder and taco seasoning and, ideally, put in a shaker jar or container. Then sprinkle the Rawritos heavily with the mixture. Afterwards, if you want to be fancy, score the Rawritos into triangles using a pizza cutter, and finish dehydrating them until firm and crispy. 




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