Is Healthy Junk Food Possible?

March 17, 2018
| Created by Hannah Langley, MS, RDN, CD

If healthy junk food sounds like an oxymoron to you—that’s because it is by definition, junk food is high in calories but low in nutrition content. Of course the obvious ones are candy, cookies, potato chips, and soda. These days, with clever marketing there are many products out there masquerading as healthy food, when they are really junk food. Let’s bust some myths:

Just because something is organic, does not make it healthy.

Organic refers to the way in which things are grown. In order to be considered organic, food:

Must be produced in a way that supports ecological balance and conserves biodiversity
Cannot use synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizer (but can still use approved pesticides and fertilizer)
Cannot be processed using irradiation or genetic engineering

These are all good things! However, it is not clear that organically produced food has more nutrients than conventional. As for organic candy and organic mac and cheese and organic Doritos? If it looks like junk food, and tastes like junk food, then it probably is.

Just because something is gluten-free, does not make it healthy.

Gluten is merely a type of protein. Just because it’s not in something doesn’t all of a sudden make that food healthy. There are healthy gluten free foods (like fruits, veggies, fish, beans, brown rice, quinoa) and there are unhealthy gluten free foods (many candies, soda, and potato chips). Also, gluten free products often use many refined starches and sugar in order to taste better, making them poor nutrition choices. So, those gluten free cookies and bagels you’ve been snacking on? Not healthy.

So, what is some healthy “junk food” you should snack on?

The good news is food companies know that we want healthy snacks. Each Harmons has two dedicated healthy checkout lanes packed with healthy treats. Here are some of Harmons Dietitians’ favorites:

Sahale Seasoned Nut Mixes
Dried bean snacks like Seapoint Farms edamame
Perfect Bars
Graze Trail Mixes
Kind Bars
RX Bars
Prana Trail Mix
Bare Fruit Chips
The New Primal Jerky
Superseedz Flavored Pumpkin Seeds
Barnana Chewy Banana Bites
Hi-Ball Energy Drinks in the white can

If you’re looking for some fun, healthier home-made “junk food,” here are some tasty recipes to try:

Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
Peanut Butter and Jelly Waffles
Apple Cake
Peach Salsa
Zucchini and Cheese Roll-Ups (pictured) 
Lighter Jalapeno Dip