Junk food recipes: 11 healthy recipes for unhealthy foods


Junk food is largely associated to the increased rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and even strokes. Companies that produce these foods spend billions of dollars promoting junk food everywhere we go.

Many families celebrate the holidays by making batches of their favorite candies, cookies, snacks and desserts. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to give up some of your favorite treats, with a few alterations to some of your favorite recipes, you can accommodate a healthy lifestyle and enjoy your holiday favorites.

Here are some of my favorites.

11 healthy recipes for common junk foods

You can skip to one that gets your attention following these links!

Butter Tarts, Glorious and Free (of Eggs and Dairy)

Ricki Heller is a college professor that works part-time as a culinary instructor. Her website is devoted to teaching others how to enjoy some of their favorite treats, but still remain healthy. Butter tarts are a Canadian favorite that are often loaded with butter, sugar, and eggs. Her butter-tart recipe is free of eggs and dairy and utilizes spelt flour for the crust. If you are gluten-free, try substituting your favorite gluten free flour alternative.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups whole spelt flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoon agave nectar

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 Tablespoon organic cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon brandy or rum (or use 1 more teaspoon vanilla)
  • 2 Tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

General Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Lightly grease 8 individual tart pans with coconut oil

Crust Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Lightly grease 8 individual tart pans with coconut oil
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and salt
  4. In a small bowl, melt the coconut butter and then whisk in the agave nectar until combined
  5. Pour the coconut-agave mixture over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until it comes together
  6. Knead with your hands just until the wet ingredients are well incorporated
  7. Divide dough into 8 equal portions among the tart pans
  8. Dust your hands with flour
  9. Beginning with the sides of the tart pans, press the dough evenly to cover each pan
  10. Bake the shells for 10-12 minutes until just starting to puff up
  11. Remove from oven and sprinkle about 1/2 Tablespoon of the raisins in the bottom of each shell

Filling Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice syrup and agave nectar with the cornstarch until the mixture is smooth
  2. Whisk in the melted coconut butter, vanilla, brandy, and chia
  3. Add the baking powder last and mix quickly just to blend
  4. Divide the mixture equally among the tart pans so the pans are about 3/4 full, or filling is almost even with the top of the crusts
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes in preheated oven, turning about halfway through to ensure even baking
  6. Allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until firm

If butter tarts are a part of your families holiday tradition, consider giving this healthier recipe a try! The author shares, “They’re everything you’d want in a butter tart: flaky pastry crust, with a rich, sticky, firmer-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside filling. All they’re missing is the cholesterol, animal fat, and refined sugars.”

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.rickiheller.com/

Vegan Sugar-Free Baklava

Sayward Rebhal is the owner of bonzaiaphrodite.com. She is a scientist, writer and urban farmer who spends her days writing, gardening and cooking. She explores modern vegan cuisine and desires to share recipes that are not only healthy but also eco-conscious. Baklava is often made with refined sugar or even high fructose corn syrup. If you would like a healthier version of your favorite treat, try this recipe:


  • 6 Tablespoons EarthbalanceTM (or coconut oil or other butter alternative), more for greasing the dish
  • 8 oz. phyllo dough (Athens brand is vegan, as are most others)
  • 20 oz. (about 2 1/4 cups) raw chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup agave sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Remove phyllo dough from freezer and allow to defrost (about 4 hours)
  2. Preheat oven to 325
  3. Chop the walnuts and then spread them out on a baking sheet, roasting them in the oven until they are lightly browned (about 10 minutes)
  4. Place toasted walnuts in a mixing bowl and add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, and almond extract
  5. Toss to coat
  6. Raise oven temperature to 350
  7. Put the “butter” in a saucepan and melt it
  8. Carefully unfold the defrosted phyllo dough on the countertop (it can dry out really quickly, so keep it covered with a damp dish cloth)
  9. Using a bit of cold “butter”, grease a square glass baking dish
  10. Place one piece of phyllo dough in the bottom of the dish
  11. Using a pastry brush, lightly paint the phyllo with the melted “butter”
  12. Add another piece of phyllo, rotating it if you need, to evenly distribute around the dish
  13. Brush it with “butter”
  14. Continue this process until you’ve got 8 sheets of phyllo and 8 layers of “butter” in the bottom of your dish
  15. Add a third of the spiced walnuts evenly over the phyllo
  16. Repeat these steps with 8 more sheets of phyllo and “butter”, and another third of the spiced walnuts
  17. Then do it once more, finishing off the spiced walnuts
  18. Top this off with 8 more sheets of phyllo, buttering between each one
  19. Cut the Baklava before baking: use a very sharp knife and make sure that you cut all the way through the bottom layer
  20. Place it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, until golden
  21. Now, cook the syrup

Syrup Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, agave, lemon juice, orange zest, and cinnamon stick
  2. Simmer over low heat and stir to avoid burning (the sauce will thicken up in about 10 minutes)
  3. When it is done, remove the zest and cinnamon stick
  4. When the Bakalava comes out of the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes before adding the syrup
  5. Pour the syrup evenly over the pastry, making sure it gets in all the cracks and thoroughly soaks through
  6. Allow the Baklava to cool completely prior to eating

Although there is still *lots* of ingredients, many that are unnecessary, I feel that this recipe is a healthier, cruelty-free Baklava that will compliment your next Mediterranean feast or you holiday table. If you are gluten-free, utilize a gluten-free phyllo dough recipe or see if your local health food store sells a ready-made gluten-free dough.

Recipe Inspiration: http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/

Raw Cheesecake Made with Nuts

Cheesecake is a favorite desert for many, but not practical for those who are vegan. TheRawtarian shares her version of a raw cheesecake. You will get the same creamy texture but omit the animal products and refined sugars.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts (or a combination of walnuts and/or macadamia nuts)
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cashews
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup agave or honey
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Fruit Topping Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup dates


  1. Throw the macadamia nuts, salt and dates into your food processor
  2. Process nuts and dates until well processed but still airy
  3. Next, get our your cheesecake pan and sprinkle the coconut on the bottom as your very first layer
  4. Then press the macadamia nuts and date mixture down into the pan to form the crust
  5. Throw all cream-cheese filling ingredients into your high-speed blender and blend
  6. Add as little water as necessary to facilitate blending
  7. Pour mixture on top of crust
  8. Place the above in freezer for an hour or so
  9. Meanwhile, throw your strawberries and dates in your high-speed blender
  10. Blend until nice and smooth
  11. Pour this mixture on top of the crust/cream cheese
  12. Place it back in freezer for about 5 hours

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.therawtarian.com/

Raw Ketchup, Sweetened with Dates Rather than Unhealthy Sugar

Many people enjoy ketchup on their favorite burger, with french fries or even as a base for homemade French dressing. Commercial ketchup is made with refined sugar or even high fructose corn syrup. TheRawtarian shares another great raw recipe that takes ketchup from a forbidden food to a healthy condiment.


  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (chopped)
  • 3 Tablespoons dates
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (dry – do not soak)


  1. Blend everything in the blender except the sun dried tomatoes
  2. Add the sun dried tomatoes in last and blend until you get a ketchup consistency
  3. Use your healthy condiment!

This recipe is simple, requires no soaking, and all you need is a blender. Next time you are thinking of reaching for a bottle of conventional ketchup, instead grab this recipe and make your own healthy version.

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.therawtarian.com/

Sugar-free Vanilla Marshmallows

Michelle and Lori are owners of purelytwins.com. They are twin sisters, business partners & fitness and lifestyle coaches. Their website helps people find recipes that accommodate an active and healthy life. Hot chocolate and marshmallows are a holiday/winter staple. Marshmallows are filled with sugar and are definitely not considered a health food. This winter, try making your own marshmallows.

The recipe shared below is an easy and healthy marshmallow recipe.


  • 1 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon liquid stevia
  • 3 Tablespoons gelatin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean (optional for vanilla bean “speckling”)


Note: Have the whisk attachment standing by (you could use a hand mixer for this)

  1. Place the 3 Tablespoon gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup water
  2. Mix together
  3. Let sit for 5-10 minutes
  4. Heat up 1/2 cup water over medium high heat
  5. Once the water reaches just about boil temperature immediately remove from the heat
  6. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the hot water down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture
  7. Once you have added all of the water, add in vanilla extract and vanilla bean powder and liquid stevia, and increase the speed to medium-high
  8. Beat at medium-high for 1-2 minutes than increase speed to high
  9. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes slightly thick, approximately 8-10 minutes
  10. Lightly grease a bread loaf pan with some coconut oil
  11. Once your marshmallow mixture is starting to look like it has some body to it (almost forming peaks), pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula for spreading
  12. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for a few hours
  13. Cut into desired shapes using a sharp knife
  14. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Note: For those that do not want to use gelatin, you can try 1 teaspoon of agar agar instead.

While this recipe has a lot of steps, the whole recipe takes about 10 minutes to make and is great for those who desire to omit sugar from their lifestyles. Utilizing naturally flavored liquid stevia’s, you can even give your marshmallows different flavors!

So, if the kids keep bugging you for marshmallows, now you can say yes and feel OK about it 🙂

Recipe Inspiration: http://purelytwins.com/

Pliable Tomato Flatbread

For many people, sandwiches are a lunch time staple. Conventional bread is high in gluten, sugars, and preservatives. For those who have a dehydrator, try Rawmazing’s Raw flatbread recipe. You can use it for spreads, sandwiches, or dehydrate it a bit longer and it will become a crispy cracker.


  • 2 cups soaked wheat berries (oat groats can be substituted)
  • 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup ground flax
  • 1 clove garlic (or more if you LOVE it!)
  • 1 cup tomato puree (from fresh tomatoes)


  1. The night before, soak almonds and grain (separately)
  2. Drain when ready
  3. Start food processor and drop in garlic
  4. Add almonds, and process into ground well
  5. Place in large bowl
  6. Put wheat or oat grouts in processor
  7. Process until a mash is made (do not over process once you reach that stage)
  8. Put in bowl with almonds and garlic
  9. Add flax and combine
  10. Add water and tomato puree and mix well
  11. Spread on teflex sheets to about 1/4 inch thick
  12. Score
  13. Dehydrate for 1 hour at 145
  14. Reduce heat to 116 and continue to dry for 2 more hours
  15. Peel sheets off and continue to dry, tops up, until thoroughly dry (this can take 6 hours or more depending on your dehydrator, humidity, etc)

This recipe makes two sheets of flatbread that is perfect for holiday spreads and sandwiches, or to use in the kid’s (or your) lunches. This bread does require soaking the night before, so be sure to start this recipe a day are two before you need it.

Recipe Inspiration: http://rawmazing.com/

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Balls

Cake pops are all the rage right now, but are also made with refined sugar, gluten-filled flour and are often not vegan friendly. For your next birthday or holiday gathering, consider making ohsheglows.com’s vegan, gluten free chocolate cake balls! They are sweetened with organic cane sugar but also give a substitute for coconut sugar. Trying using coconut sugar for, perhaps, the healthiest alternative!

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or other light-tasting oil of choice)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup organic cane, or other unrefined sugar
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat chilled coconut milk (do not use light coconut milk)
  • 200-225 grams non-dairy semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • toppings: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, etc.


Note: You can also bake a whole cake instead of cupcakes, but the cooking time will likely be longer.

  1. Chill can of coconut milk overnight in the fridge
  2. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a muffin tin with oil
  3. In a large bowl, stir the milk with the apple cider vinegar
  4. Let it sit for a few minutes to curdle
  5. With an electric beater, beat in the oil, vanilla, and sugar into the almond milk mixture
  6. Add the dry ingredients (gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt)
  7. Beat mixture until smooth
  8. Evenly distribute the batter among the cupcake tin
  9. Bake cake at 350F for about 20-23 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched
  10. Cool cupcakes for 5 minutes in the tin and then carefully transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes
  11. Crumble cake into a large bowl
  12. Scoop out coconut cream from the can
  13. Add a little bit of cream at a time to the crumbled cake and mix it in with your hands
  14. You will only need to use enough to make it come together, you don’t want to oversaturate the cake with cream
  15. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and freeze the balls for 30-60 minutes until firm
  16. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a small pot over lowest heat
  17. When 2/3 of the chips are melted, remove from heat, and stir until chips are melted
  18. Dip the balls into the chocolate with a fork and swirl around until fully coated
  19. Tap off excess and transfer to a cooling rack so the chocolate can drip off (put paper towel underneath)
  20. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, coconut, or sprinkles
  21. Transfer to fridge or freezer until the chocolate is set
  22. Store in the fridge until ready to enjoy

This recipe makes 24 cake balls (or cake pops I guess you can call them) and is a great healthy addition to any celebration. These cake balls are moist in the center with a hard chocolate coating that can be decorated.

Recipe Inspiration: http://ohsheglows.com/

Raw Vegan Apple Pie with Cinnamon Pecan Streusel

Apple pie is an American classic but it is often made with gluten-filled flour, shortening, and lots of refined sugar. For a healthier version, try blissfulbasil.com’s raw apple pie, that is complete with a cinnamon pecan streusel (the crumbly top).

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried mulberries
  • 1 cup packed Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Filling Ingredients:

  • 5 large honey crisp apples, peeled and cored, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons white or black chia seeds

Streusel Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crust Instructions:

  1. Add the mulberries, dates, walnuts, vanilla bean seeds, and cinnamon to a food processor
  2. Pulse the mixture a few times and then process until you have a crumbly, sticky mixture (about 1-2 minutes)
  3. Line the bottom of a 10″ round tart pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with coconut oil
  4. Pour the crust mixture into the tart pan, and use your hands to press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust
  5. Transfer the tart pan to the freezer for at least 30 minutes to set

Filling Instructions:

  1. After you’ve peeled and cored the apples, roughly chop two of them
  2. Add them to a food processor along with the Medjool dates, cinnamon, and pinch of nutmeg
  3. Pulse the mixture a few times and then process for 3-4 minutes or until a smooth apple-sauce-like texture is reached
  4. You’ll need to stop frequently to scrape the mixture down the sides of your food processor
  5. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the chia seeds
  6. Dice your other three peeled and cored apples into small cubes, and add the cubes to the bowl with the apple-date mixture
  7. Toss to coat

Streusel Instructions:

  1. Add the pecans, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and cinnamon to a food processor
  2. Pulse 20-25 times or until you have a coarse crumble

Pie Assembly Instructions:

  1. Remove your crust from the freezer
  2. Pour in the apple mixture, and use a spatula to spread it evenly into the crust
  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon-pecan streusel over the apple layer and return the pie to the freezer for one hour to set
  4. Remove from freezer, slice, and serve

This recipe makes one large pie that serves ten. This healthy version has the crunchy streusel layer, rich creamy apples and a perfect flaky crust.

Recipe Inspiration: http://blissfulbasil.com/

Perfect Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream

Top your raw apple pie or your chocolate cake balls with vegan ice cream! The minimalist baker provides a simple vegan vanilla ice cream recipe without refined sugars, preservatives and additives.


  • 2 14-ounce cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 Tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • optional: pinch sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped (or 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder)
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. The day or night before, place your ice cream churning bowl in the freezer to properly chill
  2. Also, add coconut milk, organic cane sugar, coconut oil and sea salt (optional) to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat
  3. Bring to a simmer, whisking to thoroughly combine ingredients and dissolve sugar
  4. Then, remove from heat and add vanilla bean (or vanilla powder) and vanilla extract
  5. Whisk once more to combine
  6. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and cover
  7. Chill in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4-6 hours
  8. The following day, add chilled mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions – about 45 minutes
  9. It should look like soft serve
  10. Once churned, transfer the ice cream to a large freezer-safe container (such as a loaf pan) and use a spoon to smooth the top
  11. Cover securely and freeze for at least 4-6 hours or until firm
  12. Set out for 5-10 minutes before serving to soften – a hot ice cream scoop also eases scooping

Enjoy this healthy, creamy, and vegan ice cream. The recipe makes 8 1/2 cup servings that you will feel good about eating and giving to your family to eat!

Recipe Inspiration: http://minimalistbaker.com/

Vegan and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are America’s favorite cookies. Finding the perfect chewy chocolate chip cookie can be difficult to do. It’s even harder to find the perfect, yet healthy, chocolate chip cookie. Runningwfithspoons.com offers a buttery, sweet and chewy, gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe that should satisfy your craving, and get the fam all drooly.


  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground chia or flax, mixed with 2 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine rice flour, oat flour, almond meal, baking soda, and sea salt
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, applesauce, coconut palm sugar, flax “egg,” and vanilla, whisking until smooth
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well combined
  5. Fold in chocolate chips
  6. Using a generous Tablespoon, scoop out dough and roll it into balls
  7. Place the balls on your prepared baking sheet, and use your palm to flatten them (these cookies don’t spread much, so make them the shape you want before baking them)
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown
  9. The less you bake them, the chewier they’ll be, so feel free to remove them as early as 7 minutes
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet for ~5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely

This cookie is great with ice cream, or your favorite vegan milk.

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.runningwithspoons.com/

Vegan Gluten Free Pancakes

Simple vegan blog offers a gluten-free, vegan pancake recipe that will become a breakfast staple. Pancakes are often high in unhealthy carbohydrates and sugar. Topping pancakes with imitation maple syrup adds to the sugar. This recipe contains healthy flours and uses the natural sweetness of bananas and a small amount of agave to sweeten them. Top them with fruit, agave, or real maple syrup to make these a healthy breakfast treat!


  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons agave syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bananas


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl (rice flour, oat flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon)
  2. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl (milk, agave syrup, vanilla extract and oil)
  3. Add sliced bananas and blend until smooth
  4. Combine dry and wet ingredients with a blender
  5. Place 1/4 cup of batter in a hot pan lightly greased and cook for about two minutes for each side
  6. Serve with sliced banana and agave syrup

This recipe is the perfect recipe for a quick and healthy breakfast that will provide the nutrients needed to start the day out right.

Recipe Inspiration: http://simpleveganblog.com/

Next time you get a craving for some of your favorite junk/comfort foods, consider looking up healthier alternatives. It is possible to enjoy your food and care for your mind and body at the same time!

Antonia is a science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition. She has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. Read more by Antonia here, and SUBSCRIBE!

A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. (http://www.rawfoodhealthwatch.com/)