Junk-food fakes: Healthy alternatives to fast food

Story highlights

  • Craving junk food? There's a variety of lower-calorie options
  • Fakes for pizza, burgers and fries can be packed with flavor
  • Try carrot dogs for hot dogs and cauliflower bites for wings
Like most people, I enjoy a love/hate relationship with junk food. I love it (in almost all forms), but it invariably hates me right back with a bunch of undesirable side effects, like tight jeans, lethargy and an overall feeling of ickiness. High-fat, high-calorie foods are okay as an occasional indulgence, but certainly shouldn't be the star of a daily diet. If you have a hankering for junk food, don't give in to the craving until you check out these cool, creative and low-cal recipes for everything from pizza to -- gasp -- hot dogs!
Mediterranean-inspired pizza from Dietitian Debbie Dishes
Few things make taste buds happier than a fresh, hot pizza. Unfortunately, Italy's most famous culinary creation has the opposite effect on our hips and hearts. Instead of ordering a deep-dish pie from the closest delivery service, whip up this handmade beauty! The gluten-free crust is made primarily of cauliflower, rather than nutrient-poor refined white flour. Topped with shredded, roasted Brussels sprouts, pitted olives, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, this revamp of a junk-food classic has all (or more!) of the flavor of the original, with a fraction of the fat and calories.
Sweet potato burgers with edamame guacamole from Kenko Kitchen
This recipe takes the term "veggie burger" to an entirely new level, with patties made from beta-carotene-packed sweet potatoes, chickpeas and assorted spices. Once the various ingredients are mixed together, fry 'em up nicely using a small amount of healthy cooking oil. Sandwiched between two large, flat mushrooms and topped with homemade edamame guacamole, this concoction will fill you up with nutrients, fiber and the confidence to experiment with unconventional fatty-food alternatives.
Crispy healthy baked zucchini fries from Chocolate-Covered Katie
In case you haven't noticed, fast food joints are attempting to rid French fries of their inherent fatty badness... with very little luck. Enter these tasty, nutrient-packed baked zucchini fries. At a paltry 35 calories per serving, these bad boys will disappear from the serving platter faster than it takes to prepare them. The calorie savings allows you to dunk them in your favorite dipping sauce, virtually guilt-free. Oui, oui!
Carrot dogs from Helyn's Healthy Kitchen
Awhile back, someone let the cat out of the bag: Traditional hot dogs are packed with some questionable ingredients. This reality led a lot of people to scratch the snack food from their grocery lists and many companies to develop vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Those are all well and good, but why not go one healthy step further? That's right, carrots can be easily roasted and dressed with seasonings and favorite hot dog toppings to produce an option that, although not similar in flavor, will most definitely offer up far more nutrients than processed wieners.
Cauliflower buffalo bites from The Saucy Southerner
Chicken wings are a favorite app at most parties and sporting events, but they're incredibly addictive, which makes it next to impossible to exercise portion control. Unlike their poultry counterparts, these cauliflower bites are full to bursting with powerful minerals and antioxidants, making it totally acceptable to enjoy them with abandon. Ridiculously easy to make, this recipe offers a heat and crunch that partygoers will find satisfying, not to mention easy on the waistline. So stock up on some Panko crumbs for breading (found in the international aisle of your local grocer) and chow down on these low-calorie, flavor-packed treats.
This article was originally published on upwave.com.