Although National Junk Food Day is not an official holiday, many Americans will use July 21 as an excuse to pig out on Twinkies, cheese puffs, doughnuts, french fries and pizza. Although cravings for junk food decrease with age, so does the body’s metabolism. Even though you might wish you could eat more sugar, salt and fat as you enter the final stages of life, your lifestyle and nutrition habits have a big influence on your lifespan.
If you want to celebrate National Junk Food Day without feeling guilty or negatively impacting your health, here are some healthy — and tasty — alternatives to your junk food favorites.
Instead of potato chips, make healthy veggie chips. Zucchinis, carrots, kale and eggplants can all be sliced and baked to make healthy yet satisfying snacks.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice vegetable into thin chip-like pieces. (It helps if you have a mandoline, but you can do it by hand as well.) Lay vegetables flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with vegetable oil and season. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crispy.
If Starbursts or Gushers are your go-to snack, try frozen fruit instead. Buy a bag of grapes, and freeze them for a light and refreshing snack. Cubes of watermelon also make great sweet treats.
Remove grapes from stems and place in a colander. Wash thoroughly. Arrange grapes on a paper towel to air dry, about 15 minutes. Place grapes in a single layer on a shallow pan or baking sheet. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
Sweet Potato Fries
If it’s too hard to give up fries, opt for fries of the baked variety. Even better, swap out the russet potato and ketchup for a sweet potato dipped in Greek yogurt.
1 sweet potato
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Greek yogurt (optional)
Slice the sweet potato into thin strips. Set oven to bake 375°F, and warm coconut oil on baking sheet inside the oven until melted. Coat sweet potato in melted coconut oil and place tray in the oven for 20- 30 minutes. When sweet potato is golden brown, use a spatula to rotate fries, and return to oven for 10 minutes. When fully browned, remove from oven, and serve with Greek yogurt to dip.