Special Report

Healthy Versions of Old-School Junk-Food Snacks You'd Want to Try

Source: Courtesy of Frito-Lay

Cheetos Paws
> Alternative: Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Puffs

Cheetos Paws are, as their name suggests, Cheetos (those crunchy cheese-flavored snacks) shaped more or less like animal paws (specifically those of brand mascot Chester Cheetah, pictured on the label). What Earth Balance’s imitation white cheddar puffs, made with cornmeal and white beans, are shaped like is hard to say — they’re irregular, some resembling bumpy little croissants, some like cashews, some just free-form — but they have been described by at least one fan as coming “the closest to taste and texture of products like Cheetos.”.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon

> Alternative: Homemade Dunkaroos Dip & Cookies

The original Dunk-a-Roos were a Betty Crocker-brand snack consisting of cookies in various shapes, including cartoon kangaroos, upper-case D’s, and motorcycles, with a separate container of sugary icing in various flavors. They were discontinued in the U.S. in 2012, though they remained available in Canada for a while longer. Recipes for homemade substitutes, with healthier ingredients, proliferated after they were phased out. The original Dunk-a-Roos contained trans fats, added sweeteners (including high maltose corn syrup), and at least one preservative. As an example of DIY interpretations, one published on the blog mindovermunch.com is made with coconut oil and coconut sugar, as well as oat and whole-grain wheat flour, and the frosting is based on Greek yogurt.

Source: Courtesy of General Mills

French Toast Crunch
> Alternative: Erewhon Cinnamon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal

This General Mills childhood favorite cereal flavored with cinnamon and syrup was launched in 1995 and discontinued in the U.S. in 2006 — and then revived by popular demand in 2015. Erewhon’s Cinnamon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal won’t give you the dainty little toast shapes, but it has about 37 calories and 10 grams of sugar less than the General Mills version., It, too, is crunchy (or crispy) and flavored with cinnamon and syrup — maple syrup in Erewhon’s case. French Toast Crunch lists corn syrup and refiner’s syrup among its ingredients, and none of those ingredients are listed as organic, while all of Erewhon’s are.

Source: Courtesy of Stretch Island Fruit Company

Fruit Wrinkles
> Alternative: Stretch Island Organic Fruit Bites

An ’80s spinoff of Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit Wrinkles — described on the package as “fruit forms” and “chewy fruit snacks” — were meant to resemble tiny wrinkled pieces of fruit, including strawberries, cherries, oranges, and watermelon. It’s hard to track down their ingredients today, but strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, for instance, are made with corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, pear puree concentrate, and palm oil, plus four different food dyes. They’re not supposed to look like fruit, but Stretch Island’s little strawberry Fruit Bites shapes are made with organic, non-GMO strawberry juice and other concentrates, with carrot, apple, and black currant juice providing the color.

Source: Courtesy of Unilever

> Alternative: Banana Babies

Popsicle’s frozen fudge bars, called Fudgsicles, are low in fat and have only 100 calories apiece — but they’re made with whey, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, and palm oil. Banana Babies, produced by Diana’s Bananas, have 130 calories each, but they’re basically just a whole banana per serving coated in milk chocolate (and the oil involved in peanut oil).

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