When I was a kid, there was nothing I loved more than opening my brown lunch bag in anticipation of a Lunchable, or a PB&J. Sometimes, as a treat, my dad would take me to Sbarro’s and it would be the greatest day, ever. When you were a kid, simple, sloppy foods seemed magical. Processed snacks with high fructose corn syrup were considered a delicacy. Anything with copious amounts of cheese sent us over the moon with happiness.
Now that we’ve grown up a little, we know better to not treat our bodies like garbage cans. But just because we need to avoid chemicals and corn syrup, doesn’t mean we need to forever forgo our kid favorites Below are some recipes that replicate the foods we loved as kids. Some are healthier, more sophisticated and some are just way more awesome.
1. Grown-up Lunchables
Recipes from: 100 Days of Real Food
Lunchables are great. You could choose from the crackers, pizza, tacos, and nachos, and the best part about it was building everything from scratch! Like, if I really wanted, I could create a cracker sandwich with seven slices of turkey. I was pretty much a chef. Lunchables always came with a treat, and now they even come with fruit (which seems a little bit scary to me, but whatever). Lunchables are also filled with unnatural ingredients and are not very nutritious. But that’s okay, because you can make your own! These recipes I found are super simple and easy.
2. Healthy pizza with cauliflower crust
Recipe from: Eating Bird Food
The beauty of being a kid was being able to eat Dominoes Pizza and not wanting to a) blot out the buckets of grease with a napkin, or b) order from somewhere else, because ugh. I LOVED pizza when I was little, but now that I’m 23 I expect much more from a pizza. I now have pizza standards. I like to eat pizza that has at least one vegetable on it, and the more weird ingredients, the better. Making your own with cauliflower crust is an amazing way to include more nutrients and cut back on calories.
3. Spaghetti with spaghetti squash
Recipe from: Skinnytaste
I remember being so upset if my mom ever snapped the noodles in half before cooking them. This meant short spaghetti, and I wasn’t able to slurp it like Lady in Lady and the Tramp. Plus, I also thought it was my God given right to eat like a slob. I love spaghetti, but if I feel like making a lighter version, I’ll just use spaghetti squash. It seriously tastes the same, but carb-free. So many wins.
4. Sunny D Cocktail
Recipe from: Shecky’s
One of the best parts about being a kid was being able to drink Sunny D and think it was real OJ. Ha! Sunny D makes a really great mixer though. If you feel like making a ’90s Screwdriver, use Sunny D instead of Orange Juice. It’s way sweeter and tangier, and smells like T(w)een Spirit.
5. Healthy PB&J bars
Recipe from: The Chronicles of Home
Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I just brought one to work the other day and it was FABULOUS), but you can certainly play around this age old recipe. Whether you infuse your sandwich with organic balsamic blueberry jam, or decide to make these protein-rich health bars (awesome before a work out, by the way), you just can’t go wrong with this perfect duo.
6. Next Level Sloppy Joe
Recipe from: Oprah
Sloppy Joe’s tasted the BEST when you were away at camp. I’ve tried recreating the experience, and it’s never quite right. Maybe I ought to just move on, though. Thanks to Oprah, we can now enjoy a Sloppy Joe that’s a little more healthy and way more flavorful. I’ll miss you, camp-era Sloppy Joe.
7. Fancy Mac ‘n Cheese
Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman
Mac ‘n Cheese with Fontina, Gruyere, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese? Bacon even? Is it even possible? Why, yes. It is. I know I said I would include some skinny versions of our favorite kid foods, but this is not one of them. Indulge in creamy, complex, and smoky mac ‘n cheese; this stuff is way better than Kraft.
8. Iced coffee popsicle
Recipe from: The Black Peppercorn
Back when I lived in the Midwest and summers were like big saunas, popsicles cooled you down like nothing else would. I still love popsicles, but these days, I also have other needs: coffee. Why not combine the two?
9. Vegan Bagel Bites
Recipe from: Paint and Tofu
Oh, Bagel Bites. I remember eating you while doing homework with friends after school. You were cheesy and delicious. I probably shouldn’t be eating Bagel Bites because they’re pretty evil as far as nutrients go, so if I’m ever in the mood for a bagel pizza, I just make myself a healthier version, like these vegan Bagel Bites. YUM.
10. Grown-up grilled cheese and tomato soup
Recipe from: Closet Cooking
Recipe from: Simply Delicious
A grilled cheese paired with a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup is the epitome of childhood, right? As much as I love the marriage between cheese and tomato, I actually prefer mine a little more grown up. Check out these recipes for richer and bolder flavors.