Junk Food Day: Recipes to Make Junk Food Healthy

In the United States, National Junk Food Day gives new meaning to cheat day. It’s the day that gives you an excuse to indulge in junk food. They taste good and people always want more. But these are processed foods that contain high amounts of salts, sugar and fats. They are also generally lacking in major nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, which makes them an enemy to our health. So why not give junk food a healthy twist for a change?

Health Shots reached out to Gurugram dietitian Manpreet Kalra and Mumbai-based nutritionist and lifestyle educator Karishma Chawla to find out how to make healthy versions of junk food.

What is junk food?

Junk food is basically energy-dense, or calorie-dense, foods with no real nutrients essential to health, Chawla says. Junk food adds no value to health. In fact, regular consumption of junk food can deprive the body of its own vitamins, necessary for the metabolism of these foods.

Stop eating processed foods, your gut health will thank you. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Tips for making junk food healthy

You can always replace your fried chips with baked fries. Chawla says you can opt for zucchini chips or those made with pumpkin or turnip. Here are some additional options:

1. Quinoa pasta instead of regular pasta


• Quinoa – 3 to 4 scoops (15 to 20 grams raw)
• Peas – 2 to 3 spoonfuls
• Mushrooms – 2 to 3
• Beans – 3 to 4
• Onion – 1 (small)
• Capsicum – 1/2 to 1 (small)
• Carrots -1 (small)
• Oil – ½ teaspoon
• Lemon – ½ slice
• Salt – to taste
• Black pepper – to taste.


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• Put half a tablespoon of ghee in a pan, add chopped onion and cook for a while.
• Add all the vegetables and set aside for a few moments over low heat.
• Add the boiled quinoa pasta to the sauce.
• Stir the mixture continuously, then add salt.
• Add the lemon juice and set aside for 6 to 10 minutes over low heat, then serve hot.

Kalra says quinoa is a pseudo-grain that has a low glycemic index (GI). This is the best alternative to refined flour here, making it higher in protein and less dense in carbohydrates. Also, it prevents frequent sugar cravings, blood sugar spikes and fat deposits around the belly.

Broccoli is healthy
Broccoli is an evergreen superfood. Image provided by: Shutterstock

2. Broccoli Dahi Tikki instead of Aloo Tikki


• Hanging curd – 1 cup
• Cottage cheese – 1/2 cup
• Chickpea flour – 1/2 cup
• Carrot – 1/2 cup
• Pepper – 1/2 cup
• Broccoli – 1 cup
• Ghee – 1 teaspoon
• Rock salt – 1/4 teaspoon
• Black pepper – 1/4 teaspoon


• Brown the carrot, broccoli and bell pepper in a skillet.
• Add the hanging curd, grated cottage cheese and sautéed vegetables to a bowl.
• Add the chickpea flour, black pepper and coarse salt.
• Mix all the ingredients well and form round shapes.
• Cook until both sides are golden brown, then serve hot.

Replacing potatoes with low-carb, high-protein vegetable broccoli helps ensure satiety, prevents overeating, and helps detox naturally, Kalra says.

3. Moong Dal Wrap instead of spring rolls


• Yellow Moong Dal – 2 tbsp
• Beans – 3 to 4
• Tomato – 1 (small)
• Onion – 1 (small)
• Capsicum – 1 (small)


• Soak the yellow moong dal for at least four hours.
• Mix it with a little salt and add a teaspoon of water in a blender to obtain a fine consistency.
• Pour it into a frying pan without oil and cook it over medium heat.
• Add the beans, tomato, onion and bell pepper and roll them up and serve.

Moong dal helps regulate bowel movements, prevent constipation and lower cholesterol levels.

4. Soba noodles instead of regular noodles


• Peppers (red, yellow, green) – ½ bowl
• Mushrooms – 2 or 3 pieces
• Broccoli – ½ bowl
• Carrot – ½ bowl
• Soy sauce – 1 teaspoon
• Vinegar – 1 teaspoon
• Black pepper – to taste
• Salt – to taste
• Olive oil – 1 teaspoon
• Soba noodles – 1 bowl (boiled).


• Take the oil in a frying pan, put all the vegetables and fry them for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Add the boiled soba noodles to the pan and mix them with the vegetables.
• Add the vinegar and soy sauce and season to taste then taste the noodles.

It is a healthy alternative to refined flour noodles. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which has a lower glycemic index than some other high-carb foods, Kalra says.

So eat delicious food guilt-free this National Junk Food Day.

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