About six weeks ago, July 21 to be exact, was National Junk Food Day, according to my celebration-of-the-day calendar. I saw fit to bypass junk food day for two very good reasons: About that time I was busy sharing with you important information about fish flies, mosquitoes (2-winged flies), blended burgers and such; and this is America, land of the free, home of the brave, the cradle of liberty, where EVERY day is junk food day!

You may be asking yourselves, “Just what is junk food?”

There are as many different answers to that as there are people in America, as demonstrated by toptenlists.com, which compiled a list containing a lot more than 10 items. Among things voters consider junk food are: Pizza, hot dogs, French fries, cookies in general and specifically Oreos, cake, hamburgers, cheeseburgers fried chicken and cherry pie. Interestingly, mac and cheese did not appear on the lists I perused.

Fatfreekitchen.com says “Any food that has poor nutritional value is considered unhealthy and may be called a junk food. A food that is high in fat—especially trans fat, sodium and sugar is known as a junk food.”.

Junk food is high in what we call “empty” calories and low in “enzyme-producing vitamins and minerals.” The body has to work overtime to provide its own enzymes in order to “convert these empty calories into usable energy.” This is undesirable, as “these enzyme-producing functions in our body should be reserved for the performance of vital metabolic reactions.”

The thing is, “junk food is easy to carry, purchase and consume.” It is quick and readily available just about anywhere you might find yourself. In general, “junk food is given a very attractive appearance by adding food additives and colors to enhance flavor, texture, appearance, and increasing long shelf life.” They left out that if it is insanely delicious it is most assuredly junk food.

Fast food is not necessarily all considered junk food, though. I believe restaurants (food service outlets in general) are required to provide nutritional information so we consumers can make informed choices. But as we well know, all the nutritional information in the world is not going to deter us if we are determined to have a triple bacon cheeseburger and a truffle milkshake.

The abundance of fats and sugars in junk food can lead to or exacerbate a variety of medical problems, including obesity and diabetes.

Hellthyjunkfood.com believes that junk food can be “healthified,” but spelling notwithstanding, I say healthy junk food is an oxymoron that means “who are you kidding?!”

Good for us or not, we are going to continue to consume junk foods. We’ll just have to try to do so in moderation (which means “who am I kidding?”).

Having presented you with more than you probably wanted to know about junk food, I feel duty-bound to provide you with some prime examples of good bad for you eating. The recipes follow.

Incidentally, according to a video I saw on mashable.com: Americans eat about 350 slices of pizza per second.

Deep-Fried Pickles

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon vinegar-based hot pepper sauce

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon seasoning salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup cornmeal

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (32-ounce) jar dill pickle slices

1 cup vegetable oil for deep frying

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot to 365 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 2 eggs, ¼ cup flour, buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, seasoning salt and garlic powder. In a separate mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, 2 cups flour, salt and ¾ teaspoon black pepper. Dip drained pickles in milk mixture; then dredge in flour. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Salt and pepper to taste.

Deep-Fried Butter

1 pound butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 refrigerator biscuits such as Grands (1½) cans

Vegetable oil for frying

Powdered sugar

Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, mix butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon. Beat at medium speed with mixer until well mixed. Cover and freeze for 1 hour. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, scoop butter mixture into balls, and place on baking sheet; freeze for 1 hour. Split each biscuit in half horizontally. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of biscuit dough into a 4-inch square. Place 2 butter balls in center of each square. Fold dough over to enclose butter balls and pinch to seal. Fry biscuits in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired. 12 (2-piece) servings (lynnda; betterrecipes.com)

Chocolate-Dipped Bacon

12 strips bacon

12 skewers

1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon shortening

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Thread a bacon strip onto each skewer. Place skewers on first baking sheet; bake 20 minutes or until well browned. Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high heat 1 minute, stirring frequently. Chocolate should be completely melted and smooth. Dip bacon into melted chocolate; transfer to second parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened. (taylorfriedle; betterrecipes.com)

Send requests, recipes and/or cooking tips and techniques to Alice P. Clark at: Reader Exchange, c/o La Crosse Tribune, 401 N. Third St., La Crosse, WI 54601; e-mail: readerexchange@lacrossetribune.com.

Liven up your Thursday mornings by tuning in to Coulee Region Cooks from 10 to 11 a.m. on 1410-AM on the radio dial.

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