Shall we take a walk down memory lane?

Imagine coming home from elementary school where you spent the day learning multiplication, memorizing the order of the planets, and an intense game of tag during recess. Let’s throw in a spelling quiz for good measure.

You’ve had an exhausting day so you collapse on the couch and long for your favorite food in the entire world: *insert your favorite food in the entire world*.

Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing, but I say why only crave the food that made your frenzied elementary school days better in an instant? Why not indulge a little in the meals from your childhood?

It is my pleasure to present the holy grail of childhood foods revamped for adults:

1. Popsicles

childhood

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Chait

Nothing beats that refreshing sensation of a freezie pop on a hot summer day. I personally was a fan of the Cherry and Blue Punch flavors (more commonly known as the red and the blue ones). There are a few ways to upgrade these satisfying staples.

Try making your own fruit popsicles with this great recipe:

Medium

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours/overnight
Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes/overnight

Servings: 4-6 popsicles

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen strawberries
¼ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons honey
½ lemon, juiced
Pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Combine ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Pour ingredients into an ice cube tray, popsicle molds, or even plastic cups.
3. If using an ice cube tray or plastic cups, cover with a plastic wrap. Put toothpicks in each slot or popsicle stick in each cup.
4. Put in freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight.

If you really want to make the popsicles suitable for adults, try throwing some alcohol into the mix. If you’re a tequila person, definitely go with pineapple juice and a pineapple puree. But to be honest, you really can’t go wrong when making a homemade popsicle.

2. Spaghetti and Meatballs

childhood

Photo courtesy of Tracy Benjamin

I’m pretty sure this is a meal almost every adult still eats. Maybe I’m cheating a bit in including this as an “upgrade”, but I couldn’t help but share this with you guys: spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs. Spaghetti squash is ridiculously easy to make, don’t believe me? Just watch.

Easy

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: 40-45 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
4. Place squash in a casserole dish and poor ½ cup of water into the dish.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until tender.
6. Shred the flesh with a fork.

Isn’t your mouth watering just thinking about it?

3. Chicken Nuggets/Strips

childhood

Photo courtesy of Walt Stoneburner

Dino. Chicken. Nuggets. One of a kid’s go-to meals. In reality any kind of chicken nugget would do. Many adults are still guilty of ordering chicken strips when they go out to eat with friends.

If you find yourself craving this classic meal, you can easily make it at home. It’s all about what seasonings you add to the batter and the flour mixture. Go for some parmesan or maybe even some chili powder and paprika if you like meals with a kick.

For a healthy (and paleo) version, change the crust completely and use this shaved coconut recipe adapted from Paleoleap.com.

Medium

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Total Time: ~25 Minutes

Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup coconut flour
2 eggs
Full-fat coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Using a rolling pin hammer the chicken breasts so that they flatten to an even thickness. Cut the chicken into long strips that are about ¾ inch to 1 ince wide.
3. Mix eggs and coconut milk together in a bowl. Put coconut flour and the coconut flakes in two separate bowls.
4. Coat each strip first in the flour, then the egg mixture and lastly coconut flakes. Place the strips on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
5. Dip in literally anything these fingers are freaking amazing.

4. Grilled Cheese

childhood

Photo courtesy of Daremoshiranai

I have to start of with a disclaimer; I have very strong opinions concerning grilled cheese. Call me a purist if you must. I believe the minute you add something other than cheese to this delectable sandwich, it’s no longer a grilled cheese.

With that in mind, I present to you the grilled macaroni and cheese sandwich.

Easy

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: about 30 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients:
1 single-serving package instant Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (or Annie’s if you were that kid growing up)
2 slices bread
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices cheese (your choice)

Directions:

1. Follow the instructions on the box, Kraft knows what they’re doing.
2. Butter your bread.
3. Spread the mac-n-cheese on the non-buttered side (yes, this seems obvious but you never know). Add your choice of cheese on top, because even though it’s the cheesiest there’s no such thing as too much cheese.
4. Place in hot pan, butter side down until it has a golden-brown outside and melty inside.
5. Flip.
6. Plate, cut, and dip in ketchup or some tomato concoction.

Yes, there’s mac and cheese in this section, but don’t worry, it will have it’s moment to shine soon enough.

5. Mac and Cheese

childhood

Photo courtesy of Kelly Garbato

See, I told you I’d share my mac and cheese wisdom. When it comes to this delectable dish, many people hold their ground that Shaped Kraft Mac and Cheese is the best. However, baked mac and cheese is a heavenly runner-up.

At home, this dish involves making a roux, which is melted butter with flour mixed into it, forming a kind of creamy sauce. Then add your favorite blend of cheeses and voila – a decadent cheese sauce. Pour the sauce over al-dente macaroni pasta, throw some bread crumbs seasoned to your liking and mixed with a little butter, and bake it. Here’s a great recipe for one, adapted from the Food Network.

Medium

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minuts
Total Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
Salt/Pepper
2 cups milk
½ stick butter
¼ flour
3-oz. Gruyere cheese (grated)
4-oz. Cheddar cheese (grated)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Heat the milk in a saucepan – be sure not to boil it, Ina Garten says that’s a big nono.
2. Melt the butter in a pot and add the flour. Put this over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
3. Keep stirring and pour in the hot milk. Let this cook for about a minute until thick and smooth.
4. Take the pot off of any heat and stir in the hodgepodge of cheeses. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (because we’re classy) before you add in pasta.

There are so many fantastic ways to revamp mac and cheese, but a personal favorite is the ever luxurious lobster mac and cheese. Who doesn’t keel over when someone orders this cause HELLO – lobster!

6. Peanut Butter and Jelly

childhood

Photo courtesy of Patrick Haney

Unless you’re allergic to peanut butter, this sandwich was a staple in every kid’s lunch. You really can’t beat the classic combination, but if you don’t mind change, try these great upgrades beautifully compiled by Huffington Post. Grilling a peanut butter and jelly? Absolute genius.

Medium

Prep Time: 5 miniutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices bread
Peanut butter
Jelly
Butter

Directions:
1. Assemble your PB&J, everyone does theirs a little differently so we won’t try and tell you about PB to J ratio or go into the crust or no crust argument.
2. Butter the outside of your sandwich.
3. Place into hot pan and wait until the outside is a golden brown.
4. Flip.
5. When the second side browns, remove and cut diagonally. Make sure you have some milk on hand.

If you’re looking for more ways to upgrade your life, check out these articles: