Magazine Recipes

Healthier Vegan Junk Food Recipes To Satisfy All Your Cravings

By Lora O’Brien

Ask anyone what their favourite food is, and chances are they’ll answer with a junk food: ice cream, chocolate, burgers, cookies…you get the idea. And no wonder: those foods have all the stuff our brain adores (and can even get addicted to), like sugar and salt, and the combinations of textures in junk food – think creamy, crunchy or sticky – are downright irresistible.

But there are consequences to eating junk food- today, more than half of American adults are considered overweight, with around 25% of the adult population defined as clinically obese. Among children, obesity rates are off the charts, making experts in countries from America to Argentina claim obesity is becoming a “national epidemic.”

The main culprits are junk food manufacturers, who hook us in mainly with sugar, but also with flavour enhancers like MSG, artificial flavours and cheap prices. But the other guilty parties in the obesity epidemic? US. That’s right. Ultimately, it’s up to us to eat better. And that’s why I’ve found 30 popular vegan junk food recipes that are way healthier than the corporate stuff – these are all animal-free, are never deep fried, and use minimal sugar. Enjoy!

1. Vegan Mocha Frappe

A mocha frappe is normally just type 2 diabetes in a cup. Cream, sugar, coffee, sugar, chocolate, sugar…you get the idea. But this recipe uses dark chocolate, coconut cream and the sweetener of your choice (we’d go with pure Stevia or Xylitolnever, ever Nutrasweet or Sweet’n’Low!) to make a much healthier drink.

Get the recipe here.

2. Vegan Strawberry & Rhubarb Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts are about as junky as breakfast can get – except for this vegan friendly recipe. Only 7 ingredients are needed to make these, and they’re stuffed with a delicious strawberry-rhubarb compote. The best part? You can use different fruits for whatever is on season when making them.

Get the recipe here.

3. Homemade Baked Sweet Potato Chips

When it comes to junk food, who can resist a bag of chips? They’re crunchy, salty, delicious – and hella bad for us! But they needn’t be so sinful. They’re actually super easy to make from scratch at home using sweet potatoes, a little oil and herbal seasoning.

Get the recipe here.

4. Vegan Animal Style Fries

Who doesn’t love fries? I mean, c’mon! And these fries are a healthy, baked, vegan take on the popular Animal Style Fries from fast food chain In-N-Out. Unlike the original recipe that tops fries with excessive amounts of cheese and sauce, these fries are made without oil and the base of the sauce is… tofu! Delicious!

Get the recipe here.

5. Dairy-less Dunkers

To all you non-Brits: Dairylea Dunkers are a childhood lunchbox favourite. They’re basically breadsticks dipped into (ugh) processed ‘cheese’. This recipe has given the dunkers a healthy overhaul with a ‘cheese’ sauce that uses potatoes as its base. Perfect for children and even adults.

Get the recipe here.

6. Vegan McChicken Sandwich

Oh my, I lived for McChicken sandwiches from McDonalds in my teenage years. It wasn’t so much the chicken, it was that special sauce they use, dang! Well, now there’s not much you can’t enjoy when going vegan thanks to Candice at The Edgy Veg because she’s on a mission to recreate many junk food recipes for us vegans. These take a bit of time to make, but if you’re really missing those McChickens (or, if you wanna convince a carnivore to go vegan), it’s well worth it!

Get the recipe here.

7. Healthy Vegan Onion Rings

Just because onions are a vegetable doesn’t mean onion rings are at all healthy…until now, that is! There are only 6 ingredients in these onion rings, and the end result is crispy, golden onion rings that are so yummy! The best part? Zero oil is needed to cook them. Yes, really.

Get the recipe here.

8. Vegan Cauliflower Tacos

Whether you’re a fan of tacos on a Tuesday or any other day of the week, they can be pretty heavy going. So why not give them a healthy makeover using cauliflower as the ‘meaty’ part? They’re crispy, tangy, and the garlic yogurt sauce is impossible to resist.

Get the recipe here.

9. Mini Vegan Pizza Bites with the Healthiest Crust

Forget slathering your pizza with lashings of fake cheese and mock meat – these healthy slices are just as delicious, if not more so. The base is made from vegetables and brown rice, which is all then topped with lots more yummy plant based, pizza flavoured goodness.

Get the recipe here.

10. The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

If mac and cheese is your comfort food, you’ll be aware that it can be horrifyingly unhealthy! Mass amounts butter, milk and cheese…I shudder at the thought of chowing down on that. Or even worse: Kraft Dinner! My god, did I actually eat that as a kid? How am I still alive? Anyway, this recipe is not only vegan, it’s super healthy, too, and even had some added greens!

Get the recipe here.

11. Healthy Loaded Vegan Nachos

Perfect for serving to guests, these vegan nachos are just as tasty as the super-nasty commercial junk food, but these manage to conceal kale and other goodness that no one would ever guess was in this recipe (cos it just tastes that good!) Top them off with diced avocado and a few generous squeezes of lime and you’ll be in taco heaven!

Get the recipe here.

12. Crispy Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce

If Chinese food is your junk weakness, these crispy tofu strips make the perfect snack. Paired with a sweet chili sauce, you could serve these as an appetizer, chop them up in a salad or throw them into a wrap. The possibilities are endless, but one fact still stands: they’re delicious!

Get the recipe here.

13. Carrot Hot Dogs

Fancy chowing down on ground bones, cow lips, organs and God only knows what else? No thanks! But I know what you may be thinking. Hot dogs made from…carrots? But trust me, they really do work so well, and the texture is so similar, you won’t even realise that you’re eating carrots. In fact, given that we slather hotdogs with condiments like ketchup and mustard, that’s pretty much what constitutes the flavour for most people, right? So bring on the parsley mustard dressing!

Get the recipe here.

14. Green Goddess Pizza

Whilst I LOVE pizza, sometimes it can be heavy going and more often than not I end up nursing a food baby for a good hour or two after eating it. But pizza can be healthy AND delicious, as proved in this green goddess pizza recipe. The pesto and cashew cheese add lots of flavour, whilst the greens and sprouts topping it will have you feeling pretty like a plant based Goddess.

Get the recipe here.

15. Vegan Chili Fries with Avocado Cream

Spiced fries topped with a chipotle chili? Yes, please! The crispy, oven baked fries are a combination of regular and sweet potatoes that are tossed with lots of flavourful spices. They’re finished off with smoky chili and drizzled with an indulgent avocado cream. Yum!

Get the recipe here.

16. Low Fat Vegan Kebab

Forget the greasy dish that many of us end up eating after a night of heavy boozing – a kebab can be both healthy and vegan. The seitan is marinated and then stuffed into a pita with lots of veggies and a vegan yogurt sauce. Refreshingly light and packed with goodness.

Get the recipe here.

17. Sticky Sesame Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

If buffalo wings were once upon a time your vibe, you’ll love these sticky sesame vegan cauliflower wings. They taste eerily similar to regular wings and are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and they take next to no time to whip up!

Get the recipe here.

18. Garlicky Kale Burger

I think most of us love a burger, but they’re not always healthy – even when vegan. Well, these kale burgers tick the healthy box; made from a mixture of white beans, crunchy sunflower seeds and lots of garlic, they’re practically bursting with flavour.

Get the recipe here.

19. Grilled Tofu Gyros

I first had a gyro when I was in Greece and it was so good. Since going vegan I’ve failed to find a recipe that hit the spot, until finding this gem. Warm pita bread is stuffed with tender, spiced tofu, lettuce, tomatoes and a vegan tzatziki sauce that finishes it off perfectly.

Get the recipe here.

20. Vegan Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Normally, this would be a heart attack on a plate, but when cheesesteak sarnies are made with crispy pan-fried seitan, Italian long hot peppers, sweet onions and smothered in a sweet potato vegan cheese sauce… is anyone else drooling? – they’re much, much healthier.

Get the recipe here.

21. Baked Falafels

Ok, granted – falafel is defo a vegan food. But it’s not always healthy, simply because the little balls are deep fried. So swap over to this tasty recipe that bakes the falafels instead of frying. Perfect for eating as a traditional falafel, or popped into a salad.

Get the recipe here.

22. Vegan Eggplant Parmesan with Cashew Ricotta

If you love cheesy dishes, you’ll love this eggplant parmesan. Nuts, tofu, lemon juice and fresh herbs are blended together to make a vegan ricotta cheese. Once baked, it’s warm and gooey and perfect in this recipe.

Get the recipe here.

23. Vegan Popcorn Tofu

Whether you miss popcorn chicken or have never tried it – no worries! This vegan popcorn tofu is the perfect healthy junk food snack. Chunks of tofu cooked with a delicious coating and dunked in ketchup is basically the idea here.

Get the recipe here.

24. Vegan Corn Dogs

Ok, I admit the cornmeal breading on these ‘hot dogs’ isn’t the healthiest, but removing that offal-filled hotdog and replacing it with plant based goodness increases the healthy factor of this American favourite by at least 50%, right?

Get the recipe here.

25. Healthy Donuts

If you have a weakness for donuts, then you’ll love this recipe for glazed chocolate donuts. They’re baked, gluten free and vegan, but I’m pretty sure even Homer Simpson would be all like: ‘ooohhh…chocolate’! over these.

Get the recipe here.

 

26. Healthy Snickers Bars

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you’ll know that pretty much all chocolate bars are far from healthy. Unless you make your own! This Snicker replica recipe uses creamy almond butter nougat, a date-based caramel sauce and a dark chocolate coating to reinvent a childhood classic.

Get the recipe here.

27. Vegan Twinkies with Coconut Whipped Cream Filling

Ah, Twinkies – those American sponge cakes stuffed with cream that you see at so many petrol stations in the USA. They were invented in the 1930s and they’re filled with so much artificial crap, it’s very likely that many that are on the shelves today are still from that era. But if you want a healthier version, this recipe is perfect: it uses coconut whipped cream inside the sponge, and the result is magical.

Get the recipe here.

28. Salted Caramel Ice Cream

This may well be everyone’s favourite junk food – from China to Canada, Italy to Iceland, everyone loves a bit of ice cream, and it comes in so many flavours! I’ve chosen salted caramel coconut here, but hey – make whatever flavour tickles your fancy.

Get the recipe here.

29. Strawberry Cheesecake

Dense, rich and creamy, cheesecake is a junk food that’s hard to resist! This Paleo-gluten-free-vegan recipe is just as tasty (and high in calories!), but each bite will also bring in fibre, vitamins and protein, at least!

Get the recipe here.

30. The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hot, gooey and above all, chocolately, the chocolate chip cookie is the go-to junk food for many – me included. Thanks to the magic of coconut oil and apple sauce, you can replicate the texture you’d get with butter.

Get the recipe here.

Main image: banana pancakes. Get the recipe here.

 



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