Last Updated on June 17, 2023 by Jim Edwards
Everyone craves junk food every once in a while. Sometimes you’ve had a bad day and all you want to do is eat some potato chips, chocolate cookies, and sip sinfully sweet soda. However, junk food can make you gain weight and give your body unhealthy fats and carbohydrates that keep you craving more.
Although you might be tempted to try out scrumptious junk food in your pantry when the cravings hit, you need to know that some junk foods only contain unhealthy sugars and close to no nutritional value.
However, you don’t need to resort to bland foods when you are trying to avoid unhealthy junk food. There are plenty of healthy junk food options that can fulfill your cravings without the added calories or sugars. You can make healthy junk food and snacks at home to enjoy or even order some from renowned brands to munch on.
To help you find the best alternative for your favorite potato chips or the most delicious candy bar, we have compiled a list of the healthiest junk food you can enjoy without the shame and guilt.
The Top 5 Yummiest Healthy Junk Food Ideas
1. Nachos and Salsa
The combination of salsa and nachos is a popular junk food choice for Americans who love Mexican American flavors. Although you may think nachos and salsa are unhealthy for you due to their association with fast food restaurants, this is not true.
The unnatural image of nachos and salsa is only due to the unhealthy versions served in restaurants. Many fast-food chains serve nachos loaded with cheese and chili, which can amount to a large amount of fat content.
Essentially, nachos are simply baked or fried flour tortillas that have been cooked to a delicious golden crisp. Nachos can also be created with corn tortillas which some people deem more delicious and earthy.
On the other hand, salsa is just a mixture of fresh and juicy vegetables diced and mixed together for a fantastic accompaniment for nachos. Most commonly, salsa includes lime, cilantro, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili.
A combination of the salsa and nachos makes for a delicious and nutritious snack that can be perfect for parties or midnight cravings.
2. Protein Bars
Protein bars are some of the healthiest junk food available in-stores and online. Most protein bars contain a great mix of flavors containing some protein powder, whole grains (oats, wheat bran), seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds), nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, pinenuts), and dried fruits(dried cherries, dried figs).
These ingredients are bound with sugar syrups, sweeteners, chocolates, milk, eggs, or plant-based agents such as soy or rice. However, if you want to avoid sweeteners in your protein bars, you can choose a sugar-free protein bar.
Protein bars can be a great snack and meal option for people looking to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle mass, or for a quick energy boost.
These snacks have a filling effect on the stomach, preventing you from consuming more food at mealtimes and improving your blood cholesterol.
Some protein bars can give you an extra 250 kcal per day, which allows you to pack more protein in your diet and gain muscle. It can also be a yummy and portable snack to have on your way to work when you’re running late or when you want a light and easy lunch option.
Another junk food you may not have thought to be a healthy choice for you is pretzels. Everybody loves to munch on salty, crunchy, and filling pretzels as they watch a movie with family or gossip with friends.
Although this shiny salty goodness may taste similar to crackers, it is much superior to them nutritionally. Pretzels have a lower value of sodium present in them and a much lower number of calories. This is why they can be the perfect savory snack for you when you crave something after a long run or workout.
The best thing about enjoying pretzels is that you can pair them with something healthy or delicious, depending on your mood. They can also be a part of a great afternoon spread as you try them with different types of cheeses and drinks.
If you like sweet and salty desserts, pairing pretzels with your favorite frozen yogurt flavor can make for the ultimate treat.
However, you should be careful while you gorge yourself on a bag of pretzels since it is very easy to overeat them. Although pretzels have little nutritional value, enjoying them in moderation can keep your salty cravings at bay.
4. Dark Chocolate
If you have an insatiable sweet tooth that doesn’t let you quit chocolate, you may want to consider making the switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is a much healthier alternative that has been found to help with weight loss. Moreover, people who enjoy dark chocolate as opposed to regular chocolate have been noted to have lower fat levels, blood glucose, and blood pressure.
This is because dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content and a lower sugar content, making the treat taste delightfully decadent. It is also rich in fiber, iron, and antioxidants which are very beneficial for your health.
You can enjoy dark chocolate in many ways since it is highly versatile and can be paired with any nutritious dessert. We recommend preparing an acai bowl with fresh fruits and dark chocolate for a filling, delicious, and healthy breakfast.
Another way to enjoy dark chocolate is to cool down in the summer with cool low-fat frozen yogurt, served with chunks of dark chocolate and nuts.
With many wholesome dark chocolate snacks available online and in stores, you will never run out of options for a new bittersweet treat.
5. Beef Jerky
We all have grown up believing beef jerky is an unhealthy junk food enjoyed only on camp trips and long car rides with the family. However, this is not the case.
Beef jerky is a highly nutritious snack that contains a good value of protein, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Although older versions of beef jerky used to contain harmful nitrates and MSG, nowadays, it can make for a great low-carb and high-protein snack for people looking to build their muscles at the gym.
If you are looking for a healthy brand of beef jerky, you should check the package to note if it has been processed minimally and has an organic certification.
Simple ingredients without artificial additives can make for better beef jerky that you can satisfy your post-workout cravings with. If you are a sports fan, you can take a few packets of beef jerky to your favorite game for a convenient, chewy, and savory treat.
Beef jerky is also available in several traditional and contemporary flavors. You can choose spicy, lemon-flavored, sweet-and-salty, BBQ, and many unique flavors of beef jerky to enjoy with friends or family.
Nevertheless, however healthy your favorite beef jerky may be, you should always eat it in moderation since it carries a large amount of sodium.
Top 10 HEALTHIEST Junk Foods at The Grocery Store
If you are going to eat junk food, you may as well eat the best quality products at the grocery store. These are healthy junk food items made with good quality oil and not loaded with added sugar and other fillers.
From potato chips, pizza, tortilla chips, pasta, and more, Thomas and I have you covered with some healthy options you guys are going to love!
Must Read -> Fast Food vs. Junk Food – What’s the Difference?
Giving up your favorite junk food for the sake of eating healthy and doing right by your body isn’t easy. It takes a lot of willpower to stop yourself from falling into the same bad eating habits.
However, if you can’t cut out junk food from your diet entirely, consider replacing it with healthier substitutes. That way, you can save yourself from binging on unhealthy junk food when you get frustrated or tired.
Sodas, potato chips, candy bars, and ice cream may offer us a temporary tasty delight. However, the added saturated fats and sugars in these foods can affect our bodies negatively for days. High sugar junk food is directly related to obesity and diabetes, while saturated fats can cause heart problems and lethargy.
We hope this article has shown you alternate ways as to how you can introduce tasty yet healthy snacks into your diet. Now, whenever your body begins to crave a midnight snack, you don’t have to deprive it. Instead, you can choose from the variety of healthy junk food options given above and satisfy those post-midnight hunger pangs.
I’m Jim Edwards and I started this website to share my love of Junk Food. We cover new junk food, desserts, snack foods, fast food secret menus, candy (of course!) and other related news. We love trying “secret menus” at restaurants. And we love trying new products too. So, we are trying to have some fun with our hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send us your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have products you would like us to try, let us know…!