7 Healthy Recipes to Transform Junk Food Favorites

It can be really hard to resist unhealthy food. You know it isn’t good for you, but muffins, brownies, fried food, and greasy pizza have one thing in common: They taste delicious. Luckily, there’s a way around feeling guilty each time you indulge in a bad-for-you food. The solution? Use healthy recipes to transform your favorite junk foods into dishes you can feel good about. By using these seven recipes, you’ll be well on your way to indulging guilt-free.

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1. Apple-Cinnamon Oat-Bran Muffins

Muffins are normally full of sugar, fat, and calories, creating a carb-packed breakfast that does nothing but damage. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. This Women’s Health recipe for apple-cinnamon oat-bran muffins is a perfect example of how you can enjoy a healthy, nutrient-packed morning treat.

Filled with fiber, oat bran, and vitamin E, these muffins will work together to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, while keeping your insulin and blood sugar levels under control. Each delicious serving contains 141.6 calories, 8.6 grams of fat, and 3.3 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oat bran
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together bran, flour, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and oil until smooth. Stir in applesauce and sugar. Combine mixtures and fold in pecans. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.

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2. Ellie Krieger’s Double-Chocolate Brownies

There’s no need to feel guilty about indulging in the occasional brownie, especially when you follow Ellie Kriegers recipe via Food Network. Bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder give these brownies a rich flavor, while the low-fat yogurt provides a thick and gooey texture. The recipe yields twenty-four brownies, with each containing 160 calories and 9 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour (or ½ cup each whole-wheat and all-purpose flours)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally; do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and brown sugar until smooth, then add the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle with walnuts, if desired. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan on a rack before slicing.

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3. Onion Rings

Say goodbye to the fatty, fried onion rings you once knew. Instead, prepare this EatingWell recipe, which yields six servings and uses bread crumbs, seasonings, eggs, and onion to create a tasty and healthy snack or side. Each serving contains 175 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups fine dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning blend
  • Olive oil or canola oil cooking spray

Directions: Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat two large rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Cut off both ends of each onion and peel. Slice into ½-inch-thick slices; separate into rings. Discard the smallest rings or reserve for another use. Place the rings in a medium bowl; cover with cold water.

Combine flour and baking powder in a shallow dish. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow dish. Combine breadcrumbs and seasoning in a third shallow dish. Working with one ring at time, remove from the water, letting any excess drip off. Coat in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then coat in the breadcrumb mixture, shaking off any excess.

Place on the prepared baking sheets. Generously coat the onion rings with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn each onion ring over and return to the oven, switching the positions of the baking sheets. Continue baking until brown and very crispy, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Source: iStock

4. Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

It can be so hard to resist the fried flavor of chicken tenders, but, with Betty Crocker’s recipe, you can enjoy the same satisfying taste without any of the bad-for-you ingredients. The recipe yields four servings, with each containing 330 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 18 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup plain or Italian-style panko crispy bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package (about 1 ¼ pounds) chicken breast tenders
  • Dipping sauce, if desired

Directions: Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. In shallow dish, place flour. In another shallow dish, beat egg and water. In third shallow dish, mix bread crumbs and cheese. Coat chicken with flour; dip into egg mixture, then coat with bread crumb mixture. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and coating is golden brown. Serve with dipping sauce.

Source: iStock

5. Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

For a healthy and tasty pizza, forgo ordering from Domino’s and make your own using this Cooking Light recipe for roasted vegetable and ricotta pizza. A long list of veggies topped off with creamy bites of ricotta create an irresistible and nutritious dinner. The recipe yields six servings and contains 347 calories and 11.1 grams of fat in each.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound refrigerated fresh pizza dough
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup (¼-inch-thick) slices zucchini
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 5 ½ teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • ⅓ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ⅓ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons small fresh basil leaves

Directions: Position an oven rack in the lowest setting; place a pizza stone on rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Combine mushrooms and next 4 ingredients (through onion) in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 and ½ tablespoons oil. Toss. Arrange vegetables on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. Punch dough down.

Sprinkle a lightly floured baking sheet with cornmeal; roll dough out to 15-inch circle on prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with 1 teaspoon oil. Spread sauce over dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella over sauce; top with vegetables. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella and red pepper over zucchini mixture. Dollop with ricotta. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone. Bake at 500 degrees for 11 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with basil.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Healthy French Fries

This baked version of a classic comfort food only requires 10 minutes of prep time. Shape’s recipe yields four servings, with each containing 127 calories, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 5 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 4 teaspoons peanut or canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut potatoes lengthwise into roughly ⅜-inch-thick slices. Stack slices and cut lengthwise again into sticks to make fries. Fill a large bowl with very hot tap water, add potatoes, and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Gently lift potatoes from water and lay on paper towels; dry thoroughly. Rinse and dry bowl.

Add potatoes and oil to bowl; toss well to combine. Arrange potatoes in a single layer over two heavy, rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, toss fries, switch position of pans, and bake for 10 minutes more or until potatoes are cooked through and golden. Mix salt and sugar in a small dish. Combine potatoes on a single pan, sprinkle with the salt/sugar, toss, and serve.

Source: iStock

7. Skinny Ice Cream Sundae

Even a calorie-riddled and sugar-packed sundae can be turned into a healthy treat. Deliciously Sprinkleds recipe, which yields four servings, puts a fun and healthy twist on an ice cream favorite.

Ingredients:

Banana Ice Cream:

  • 4 over-ripe bananas, frozen

Optional Toppings:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Walnuts, chopped
  • Sprinkles

Ingredients: Peel bananas and place in freezer until frozen. When the bananas are frozen, using a food processor, process frozen bananas until smooth. Enjoy alone or with your favorite topping.

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