10 Healthier Alternatives To Your Favorite Childhood Indulgences


Food has this magical quality that makes it possible for us to go back in time to a place that’s comfortable; home. It’s something that has the power to transport us back in time to a different place and a different moment in our lives. Perhaps it’s the smell of certain things cooking combined with the flavors of our favorite childhood foods that remind us of being in the house in which we grew up, with the people that loved us most and made us feel so safe and so protected. It reminds us of days spent without fear and worry and stress, of days that meant family and happiness, and love. And we all have things that we love more than anything (Girl Scout cookies…my how that has not changed over the years) that we still eat today. The only difference today is that we aren’t kids anymore and we’re not running around outside for hours on end every single day burning a million calories and eating whatever we want without guilt and worry. But we don’t want to give up the things we loved most as children, so we are going to provide some healthier, less guilt-laden alternatives for the things you loved most as a child.

Ice Cream

The simple alternative to ice cream is frozen yogurt. I’m going to be completely honest with you here and say that it’s something that doesn’t taste any different than ice cream, in my opinion. I can’t tell the difference, my kids can’t tell the difference, and we are all happy when we break this out at home and get to have a sweet treat to share.

Fried Chicken

Who doesn’t love the crispy goodness of fried chicken? It’s so delicious and it absolutely reminds us of Sunday evenings in the summer with our friends and family while we played outside, ran through the sprinkler and had a good time indulging. Instead of frying chicken, however, just bake it. You can add some seriously delicious seasoning to the top of your chicken and bake it, and you can even top it off with some panko bread crumbs that lightly coat the top for a crunchy texture without all the bad health.

Hot Pockets

These are so good, but they’re so bad for you. Instead of buying them at the store all boxed up and ready to zap in the microwave, go ahead and make it a point to make your own. You can find the ones you like the best and recreate them with fresh ingredients, or you can even make up your own recipes so that you can enjoy this long-ago favorite without the guilt.

Hot Dogs

Instead of eating a hot dog like you did when you are a child at baseball games and in the middle of the summer, why not make something a little bit healthier that you can enjoy. Our suggestion is that you leave out the bread and instead have a delicious piece of sweet turkey sausage wrapped in lettuce or romaine that will be even more flavorful and much healthier to consume.


What child is not reminded of happy days when this meal is on the table (pun intended)? Instead of the white bread, the jelly, the peanut butter and all the unhealthy options that comprise this dish, let’s make a new version. Let’s get a banana and put a little bit of peanut butter on it. Or let’s put a little peanut butter on our apples and call it a day. You’re getting the fruit instead of the jelly and you’re not having the fattening bread.

French Fries

We love French fries, but they’re fried. And fried is not good. Why not bake some? My favorite alternative to this particular dish is a few red potatoes cut into small pieces and sprinkled with a bit of olive oil and placed on a baking pan. Add some garlic seasoning, salt and pepper to taste and top it off with freshly chopped rosemary and bake. The potatoes will be tender, flavorful and amazing, and you will be very happy about it.


Most people love mashed potatoes, and they remind me so much of my dad. Growing up with my parents, we had mashed potatoes every single night because they are my dad’s favorite. This meant that we were a bit overloaded on them, but that’s all right. What we do now, however, to make dinner just a bit healthier is make mash cauliflower instead. It’s so much more delicious and it’s so much healthier.


Instead of making the recipe on the box of powder mix straight from the supermarket, go ahead and try something a little different. For example, switch out your regular flour for whole wheat flour. Then do yourself another favor and switch out your liquids for applesauce. Now you have the same decadent Saturday morning breakfast from your childhood to enjoy now, but in a much healthier version of the meal.

Grilled Cheese

We love grilled cheese, but it’s not that good for you. Instead of making it the same way you enjoyed it as a child, go ahead and make it another way instead. Make it with whole wheat bread and better cheese. We love some baked brie with a bit of avocado or some tomatoes. This is going to provide a whole near meaning to the term delicious and it’s going to make you feel almost as if you were missing out your entire childhood on what this meal could have been.


Pasta is like coming home. It’s spaghetti. It’s macaroni and cheese. It is so much; and we love it. But it’s not all that amazing. So instead of the same old spaghetti you had growing up, try to make this dish with whole wheat pasta and turkey instead of beef. It’s going to make everything healthier, more flavorful and all around more delicious. You can’t go wrong with that, if you ask us.

Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival



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