Back in the old days — before healthy school lunch initiatives and in-depth nutrition labels — comfort foods consisted of sweet, cheesy or deep-fried treats that were probably loaded with sugar, preservatives and questionable ingredients. But boy, they sure were delicious.
Fortunately, you don't have to eschew these childhood delicacies. From mac and cheese to Pop-Tarts, we've got you covered with homemade, healthier versions of 11 of your favorite foods.
Got a favorite Pop Tart flavor? Whether you're a chocolate fudge fan or more of a frosted blueberry lover, RosieEats has an incredibly simple recipe that you can use to satisfy your pop tart craving at home. Fill with preserves for a fruitier snack or with melted chocolate or Nutella to make your inner-chocoholic happy.
Want to make a healthier version of your favorite canned spaghetti? Start with anellini - or ring shaped pasta- to make your homemade o's look like the real deal. Top it with your favorite marinara, or try this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie to really capture that sweet cheesy flavor.
Remember the good old days when your only care in the world was whether or not you could sprint fast enough to catch the ice cream truck when you heard its classic jingly tune? Whip up a batch of those homemade ice cream drumsticks and you'll be reliving those fun summer days with every bite.
Did a little piece of your soul die a few years ago when Hostess announced they would no longer be making their classic Twinkie snack cakes? Fortunately, the Twinkie scare has passed and they are back on store shelves. Unfortunately, they are still loaded with preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Skip the scary ingredients by making your own Twinkies and you'll never have to worry about missing out on your favorite childhood treats again.
5. Fruit roll ups
If roll ups were your childhood thing, you'll be glad to know that it's super easy to make these fun treats at home. All you need is a food processor, an oven and a few hours and you'll have a delicious batch of your favorite fruity flavor. Better still, this homemade version costs much less than store bought and doesn't contain any nasty ingredients.
6. Chicken nuggets
Sure, drive-thru nuggets are easy, but the costs — to both your wallet and your health — add up every time you eat them. Satisfy that fast food craving with these homemade chicken nuggets from SkinnyTaste that are baked instead of fried. Added bonus: when you make these treats at home, you don't have to worry about whether or not there is actually any chicken in your nugget.
What could be more delicious than a graham cracker cookie? How about a graham cracker cookie topped with a marshmallow and covered in chocolate? You can still buy Mallomars at the store, but pull together a batch of these homemade yummies from Food 52 and you'll never want store bought again.
8. Hot Pockets
Do you remember rushing home from school and tossing a couple Hot Pockets in the microwave to snack on while you did your homework? Well, you're in luck, because homemade hot pockets are a breeze to make. Fill them with meat, cheese, or your favorite veggies for a healthy homemade snack.
9. Hostess Cupcakes
Remember the days when school vending machines were loaded with sugar-laden sodas and treats? I do. And I remember that these tasty cupcakes made up all or most of the lunch menu at the table I shared with my friends. Fortunately, school lunches are much healthier now, but that doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy this childhood favorite. Here's a great recipe from 52 Kitchen Adventures for a healthy, adult version of these old-school childhood treats.
10. Funnel cakes
No childhood was complete without a trip to the local county fair. From the rickety rides to the deep-fried treats, the fair was as scary as it was jaw-dropping. Bring back those sugar-topped memories by making up your own homemade funnel cakes with this recipe from Piece of Cake.To be honest, this version — which uses packaged pancake mix and deep frying — isn't much healthier than what you will find at your favorite fairgrounds. But hey, it's fair food!
11. Macaroni and Cheese
Nothing says childhood comfort food like bowl full of mac and cheese. But step away from that box of powdered cheese and preservatives and make up a batch that's the real deal with this easy and scrumptious recipe from Southern Living.