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Junk Food Day: Try these healthy versions of junk food guilt-free

Junk food makes out palate happy. But overall, it's not healthy. So, let's celebrate National Junk Food Day 2023 by giving a healthy twist to junk food.
Bowl of raw pasta
You can always give a healthy twist to your favourite junk foods. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 21 Jul 2023, 10:30 am IST
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In the US, National Junk Food Day gives cheat day a new meaning. It is the day that gives you an excuse to dig into junk foods. They taste great, and people always want more. But they are processed foods that contain high amounts of salts, sugar and fats. They also generally lack major nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, making them an enemy to our health. So, why not give junk food a healthy twist for a change?

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

What is junk food?

Junk foods are basically foods that are energy dense that means high in calories, with no real nutrients that are essential for health, says Chawla. Junk foods do not add any value to health. In fact, regularly consuming junk foods can deplete the body of its own vitamins which are needed to metabolise such foods.

junk food
Stop eating processed food, your gut health will thank you. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.

Tips to make junk food healthy

You can always replace your fried chips with baked ones. Chawla says that you can go for zucchini chips or the ones made of pumpkin or turnip. Here are some more options:

1. Quinoa pasta instead of regular pasta


• Quinoa – 3 to 4 spoons (15 to 20 grams raw)
• Peas – 2 to 3 spoons
• 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 spoon ghee in a pan, add chopped onion, and cook for some time.
• Add all the vegetables and keep for some time on slow flame.
• Add boiled quinoa pasta to the gravy.
• Continuously stir the mixture and then add salt to it.
• Add lemon juice and keep for 6 to 10 minutes on slow flame then serve hot.

Kalra says that quinoa is a pseudocereal grain that has a low glycemic index (GI). It is best alternative for refined flour here which makes it more protein rich and less carbohydrate dense. Also, it prevents frequent sugar cravings, blood sugar spike and fat deposition around the belly.

Broccoli is healthy
Broccoli is an evergreen superfood. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Broccoli Dahi Tikki instead of Aloo Tikki


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• Hung curd – 1 cup
• Cottage cheese – 1/2 cup
• Chickpea flour – 1/2 cup
• Carrot – 1/2 cup
• Capsicum – 1/2 cup
• Broccoli -1 cup
• Ghee – 1 teaspoon
• Rock salt – 1/4th teaspoon
• Black pepper – 1/4th teaspoon


• Sauté carrot, broccoli and capsicum in a pan.
• Add hung curd, shredded cottage cheese and the sauteed vegetables in a bowl.
• Add chickpea flour, black pepper and rock salt.
• Mix all the ingredients together properly and make it into round shapes.
• Cook them till both sides turn golden brown and then serve hot.

Replacing potatoes with low carbohydrate and protein-rich vegetable broccoli helps to provide satiety, prevents overeating and helps to detox naturally, says Kalra.

3. Moong Dal Wrap instead of Spring Rolls


• Yellow moong dal – 2 tablespoons
• 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 some salt and add one teaspoon of water in a mixture grinder to make a fine consistency.
• Pour it on a pan without any oil and cook it on a medium heat.
• Add beans, tomato, onion and capsicum and put them together in the form of a roll then serve.

Moong dal helps to regulate bowel movement, prevent constipation and lowers down the cholesterol levels.

4. Soba noodles instead of regular noodles


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


• Take oil in pan and put all the vegetables and sauté them for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Add boiled soba noodles in the pan and mix it with vegetables.
• Add the vinegar and soya sauce and seasonings according to taste then enjoy the noodles.

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

So, eat guilt-free yummy foods this National Junk Food Day.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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