Comfort foods are the easiest way to offer a little warmth to your heart on cold grey days. But can they be made healthy as well? The answer is Yes! Here is how.
Comfort food is almost synonymous with rich, creamy, high-calorie foods. Therefore our loving comfort often comes through these foods, followed by feelings of guilt for putting on excess weight. However, comfort food doesn’t always have to be so fattening or calorie-dense.
That doesn’t mean we have to replace comfort foods with something else, like a super light salad either. Conversely, with a few tips and tricks, your comfort foods too can be made healthy.
To transform your rich comfort food into healthy comfort food, all you need is to substitute some of its high-calorie ingredients with lighter options. Doing this simple trick will keep the calories low and yet make comfort food delicious.
Here is how you can modify some of your favorite comfort food recipes with healthy alterations:
1. Silken Tofu Sauce
This can be an amazingly healthy replacement for your rich, creamy white sauce made of calorie-packed dairy products, which tastes as good when paired with any noodles. It is vegan, high in protein, super light, and easy to cook.
350-gram of Silken tofu
2 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 tablespoons of Soy sauce
Take your blender and put the tofu, extra-virgin olive oil, and soy sauce into it. Now blend until smooth.
2. Nutrient-Enriched Mac & Cheese
It may sound weird, but it is possible if you lessen the cheese portion in your cheese sauce and replace it with butternut squash or pumpkin puree. Their thick and creamy consistency and minimal flavor make them perfect substitutes. Moreover, they contain fiber, potassium, and vitamin A and C, adding more health benefits.
3. Gluten-free Breadcrumbs
While you may be keen to avoid fatty ingredients at all costs, you can hardly say no to the tasty, crunchy feel breadcrumbs add too many of your comfort foods like breaded chicken tenders. Thankfully, you can substitute the regular breadcrumb with gluten-free bread crumbs for a healthier option.
Whether you are gluten-intolerant or not, gluten in bread is not considered healthy for us, especially when trying to maintain or lose weight and stay trim. Therefore, gluten-free bread crumbs are an excellent substitute for your recipe without compromising the taste and the crunch.
4. Use Cauliflower
Cauliflowers can be used as a substitute for various ingredients that can be high in fat or carbohydrate.
Mashed Cauliflower Instead of Mashed Potatoes
You can easily substitute mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Add some flavor to your mashed cauliflower with feta and herbs and get your rich, creamy, tasty side dish, cutting down on calories from this side dish significantly.
Replace Rice with Grated Cauliflower
You can substitute rice with grated cauliflower (aka cauliflower rice) to cut down on carbs. Cauliflower is high in fiber and has a much lower glycemic index than white rice. This is a great way to still have your favorite rice dish without compromising the taste.
Cauliflower in Cheese Sauce
This is another great way to dial back the cheese portion in your sauce. In fact, it goes so well in the recipe that one may not even notice the difference! Try it out on a blind taste test if you don’t believe us.
5. Turn Zucchini into Pasta
Try replacing your pasta with thin slices of zucchini or spiralized zucchini to keep it light and refreshing. Besides, it will also add fiber to your meal – and fiber is key for weight loss and weight maintenance.
6. Stuff with Veggies
Be that lasagna or meatloaf can be made healthy and light by stuffing them with veggies. In lasagna, a colorful mixture of vegetable stuffing with eggplant, peppers, spinach, zucchini, and mushroom instead of ground beef, would be an excellent vegan option, which is tasty, light, and healthy at the same time. A perfect dish for Meatless Mondays!
7. You can still eat meat!
Meats, in general, are high in calories and can quickly add up. Try replacing beef with lean grass-fed beef options, or go “beyond” and try some of the plant-based alternatives to beef. Buffalo or venison are also healthier options to satisfy your craving for red meat – they contain less fat and usually grass-fed too.
White meat options are always better than red meat. Therefore, if meat has to be in your recipe, pick lean chicken breast and make a soothing curry or stew. If possible, choose organic and grass-fed chicken for the best quality.
Speaking of lean meats, turkey is one of the healthiest white meat out there; generally, the turkey breast is white meat and more flavorful than chicken – although dark meat is also amazing and still very healthy. Pick skinless turkey for the leanest option and cut down on even more calories.
When cooked well, fish can be as delicious as any meat. On top of that, salmon and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids known for their enormous health benefits. Fish may not come to mind when we think of comfort foods, but using seafood, you can cook some dishes to comfort you when the season gets cold. A seafood bouillabaisse with some french baguette is perfect for those chilly nights in!
8. Give Your Tomato Soup a Healthy Twist
Forget your classic tomato soup version full of high-calorie ingredients and sodium, and modify the recipe with healthier substitutes. For a light and healthy tomato soup recipe, use tomato puree, roasted bell peppers, low-sodium veggie broth, and fresh basil. And if you don’t want to miss the creaminess – substitute the cream with cashew milk!.
Cashew-milk has a creamy texture and a very mild flavor. Besides being a non-dairy option, cashew milk has many other health benefits. It provides us healthy fat, fiber, protein, and minerals like magnesium and potassium. Aside from keeping us in shape, cashew-milk also helps regulate our blood sugar thanks to these nutrients.
9. Modify Your Sweet Dishes
There are many creative ways to satisfy your sweet tooth with less guilt and calories. For instance, you can replace refined sugar with dates or maple syrup for baking your cake. You can also use a scoop of Greek yogurt with a little vanilla to replace the ice cream topping on your apple crisp. In fact, apple crisps can be made healthy by merely roasting them with cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. Greek Yogurt itself can be an excellent dessert when you add it to some frozen berries and honey.
Finally, Practice Moderation
There is nothing wrong with a little indulgence in your comfort foods – especially with the stress of pandemic upon us – as long as you do indulge in moderation. Eat mindfully and only until you are about 80% full.
Along with some moderation, the tips above will go a long way in quickly shedding those pandemic pounds and getting your summer body!