7 Healthy Takes on Junk Food Classics

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!When it comes to healthy eating, one of the worst things to do is make it a chore. Because when healthy food is boring, kids (and parents) don't exactly chow down, which defeats the purpose of making a nutritious meal in the first place. That doesn't mean that every meal has to be a comfort food, but sometimes it's a good idea to take a not-so-healthy kid favorite, like pizza or pancakes, and make it healthier. Check out 7 nutritious updates of everyone's favorite junk foods below!

Pizza

Pretty much everybody loves pizza, but with lots of carb-rich dough and plenty of fatty cheese, it's not the healthiest dinner around. Breathe new life into this favorite by making your own whole-wheat crust and adding wholesome toppings, like fresh mozzarella, real tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Ingredients

Makes two 14″ pizzas

1 recipe whole wheat pizza dough (get our great recipe here)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
6 firm heirloom tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 lbs. fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, and sliced

Related: 16 skinny soups that will fill you up

Directions

Place the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with lightly greased Cling wrap, and set aside for an hour or more while the dough rises. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Cover one half while you work with the other.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, heat that too (if you don't, heat a rimmed baking sheet). The oven should heat for at least a half hour.

Roll/pull/press your dough into a 14" round. Lay on a sheet of parchment paper over a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet (to slide pizza onto the hot stone).

Related: The 25 healthiest foods for under $1

Cut the core off the top of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds with your finger. Slice the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and lay in a colander to allow some of the juices to drip off.

Brush the olive oil onto the dough, and sprinkle with a 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few turns fresh pepper. Scatter 1 tablespoon thyme leaves over the crust. Scatter half the garlic, and lay out half the sliced mozzarella. Then lay out half of the tomatoes, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

Remove the hot stone or baking sheet from the oven. Carefully slide the pizza onto the hot surface. Place pizza in the oven and bake for 8 - 10 minutes-until the mozzarella is melted and bubbling and the crust is light golden brown.

Prepare the second pizza while the first bakes.

Cool for 3 minutes, slice, and serve with a sprig of thyme.

Related: 7 healthy citrus recipes for delicious spring meals

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!
Hamburgers
Give greasy drive-thru hamburgers a run for their money with these meat-free patties, packed with healthy white beans and savory flavor. Kids will love 'em because, well, they're still burgers; you'll love 'em because they're rich in protein, vitamins, and fiber.
Make white bean burgers

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!
French Fries
Every kid adores french fries, but they're far from healthy, what with all the oil they're dunked in to crisp up. Rehabilitate this junk food staple by skipping the frying pan and baking fries in the oven. Plus, using sweet potatoes adds extra fiber and beta carotene!
Make sweet potato fries

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!
Chicken Nuggets
Is your house filled with chicken nugget lovers? Ever wonder how fast food joints hold their chicken mixture together? Two words: meat glue. And that's not all there is to not love about chicken nuggets; they're also frequently packed with sodium, sugar, and additives. So the next time a nuggets craving hits, offer up a healthier alternative with these baked - and meat glue-free! - chicken tenders.
Make honey mustard chicken tenders

Related: The 50 best recipes under 100 calories

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!
Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a perennial kids fave, and there are actually lots of ways to make it healthier. For starters, ditch the box and make your own from scratch with whole-wheat pasta. Another option is to go low-carb and ditch the "mac" too: try subbing healthy veggies, like parsnips or turnips, instead of pasta. We bet kids won't even be able to tell the difference!
Make veggie "mac" and cheese

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!
Grilled Cheese
It's hard to imagine a healthier alternative to this kid-approved comfort food staple when it's made with just three ingredients. But a few modifications, like whole-wheat bread, lower-fat cheese, and a butter alternative, make for a healthier sandwich your kids can sink their teeth into.
Make skinny grilled cheese

So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!So delicious you'll forget it's sooooo good for you!
Cookies
The secret to healthier cookies isn't so much what's not in them, it's what is. Add things like whole grains, dried fruits, seeds, and honey so that your little cookie monsters can get their fix - and their fair share of nutrients. These oatmeal cookies have lots of fiber and healthy dried fruit (bonus points if you can find unsweetened cranberries).
Make oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries and ginger

For 4 more healthy takes on junk food classics, visit Babble

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