Your comfort foods don’t have to be sinful. There are various ways to make them healthy. A simple tweak of the ingredients or the cooking process will give you a healthy alternative of the food you love. No depriving yourself and no regrets!
Comfort foods can lift your spirits and can make your mind and your tummy happy. But it’s time we give our health and nutrition the right emphasis and care. According to studies, the majority of Australians are consuming a good amount of nutrition except for a part of its indigenous population. According to AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare), compared to counterparts in 1901, Australian men and women today are expected to live around 24 years longer. This has been a clear indication that Australian’s health, living and nutrition has improved since then.
So, getting back to our first point, can your favorite foods be healthy and tasty at the same time? The answer is yes! Here are the tips and tricks.
Comfort Food Tweaks
#1 Mac and Cheese
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It’s loaded with calories and so crave-worthy. But how do you justify it once those craving set in? Throw in lots of veggies of course. Add some spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, peas and any other veggies. Do it from scratch and make everything at home rather than from a packet to subtract the number of calories.
#2 Spag and Meatballs
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It’s an all time favorite and it smells just like Mom’s cooking! Nothing can beat this comfort food served in your favorite bowl. To add a new twist to it, nutritionists advise that instead if using the usual pasta, try whole-wheat as a healthy alternative. Many health advocates pair this with homemade sauce and substitute the meatballs with turkey. Using fresh tomatoes as well as olive oil in the ingredient also adds to its healthiness.
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Who doesn’t love a good pizza? However, pizza has become synonymous with fast food, which saddens us a bit since pizza isn’t that bad when done right. Now that perks you up, doesn’t it? Pizza isn’t just that greasy and oily fast food alternative, why not make one at home and decide whether it’s worth your effort (it totally is). For the crust, choose whole wheat. Add a pile of tasty veggies, choose your favorite cheese and add your own tomato sauce. Cook it minus the bacon and you’re done. If you can’t do away with the meats, add instead a lean part of chicken as a healthy substitute.
#4 Fried chicken
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Except that you don’t actually fry it at all. You know, deep frying can have adverse effects on your health in the long run. Instead, use healthy almond flour as the coating and coconut oil as an alternative to other oils. Coat your chicken with the flour. For the cooking process you have two alternatives. The first is to brown your chicken in the pan (using the coconut oil) and then bake it for another 20 minutes in the oven. OR, you can bake it all the way in the oven while garnishing in the healthy oils.
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Burgers are the ultimate tummy pleaser. But there’s nothing like a burger to constrict your arteries! Burgers can be healthy with a simple twist. But of course, it may require a great deal of self-discipline to forget the old burger delights.
Now, for the comfort food minus the grease and the fats, use a whole wheat bun. Use quinoa and back bean for the patty. And like always, add in tomatoes and cheddar cheese. For the ketchup, make your own out of fresh tomatoes. You can insert some slices of avocado in between too.
For another quinoa delight check this recipe from bioglan: Breakfast Quinoa with Chia.
Image credit: Food Network
We can’t have burgers without a side of fries. To make it healthy, use sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes are filled with carotenoids. You can cut them like your usual fries, bake them and pair them with your quinoa burger.
#7 Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Craving for a chocolate chip cookie but think it’s too much for your diet? It’s bad to deprive yourself of something so tasty, so we thought we would offer you an alternative. In your usual cookie mix, add in quinoa, flaxseed (rich in omega-3) and banana. For the chocolate chips, make sure what you are using dark (70% cocoa) since they’re the healthiest in the chocolate world. The banana acts as a sugar substitute. Brilliant, isn’t it?
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The whitebread, pork and beef contained in meatloaf gives you protein but it can’t be that healthy. To make a healthier meatloaf, you can try swapping the pork and the beef with turkey meat (just make sure it’s lean, ground). For the white bread, replace with oatmeal. Oatmeal is good for the heart and adds some fiber to the meal. If you feel like it, you can add in some vegetables. We recommend bell peppers, onions and carrots.
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Nothing beats a home made lasagna. On the other hand, a homemade lasagna with your waistline in mind is even better! For an alternative, you can try to swap the lasagna sheets with zucchini. You can still have a meat lasagna but make sure you include a few vegetables in your recipe. The sauce should be homemade.
#10 Ice Cream
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Ice cream can be healthy too. If you remember, we have already tried teaching you the recipe to this very healthy ice cream alternative. All you have to do is freeze ripe bananas. When these bananas are frozen, slice them into small sizes for blender. blend it well until its consistency resembles ice cream. Enjoy!
#1 Cook with less oil
If cooking with oil is unavoidable, then cook it with healthy oil alternatives like coconut oil or extra virgin coconut oil. As much as possible use less oil in salads too. When sauteing, use a non-stick pan to use the littlest possible oil.
#2 Make food look fried without the grease
This is done by baking. First, you have to dip the food you want to deep fry in egg or buttermilk and dredge it in breadcrumbs or almond flour. Spray with olive oil and set it on a baking sheet. Set it in the oven and set the temperature. Bake until the “fried” crisp is visible. This style gives chicken fewer calories and less saturated fats.
#3 Add flavor but not with salt
Our salt consumption per day sometimes goes over the limit set by nutrition experts. To avoid this, salt shakers on tables are always discouraged. In cooking, use lemons and herbs for flavors. When buying canned products, check for the ones which have the lowest sodium content.
#4 Substitute baking ingredients with whole grain alternatives
whole grain foods can help boost essential vitamins in the body. This whole grain alternative is best in everything form your usual muffins to your cookies. Now you can eat your favorite pastries without guilt.
#5 Discard the yolk
The eggyolk has 544 calories and 5 grams of fat which is quite high compared to that of eggwhites which have 16 calories and 0 grams fat. Now imagine every time you cook you replace the yolk with the whites, that’s a lot of calories and fats you avoided.
#6 Add grains and seeds to usual dishes
To add a healthy twist to any of your meals, try to add grains and seeds. You can have brown rice, flaxseeds, chia and diced vegetables added in your meaty dishes.
#7 Reduce amount of cheese in cooking
To still get a cheesy taste using a little amount, use strong flavored cheese. This way, you’ll get less fat and calories without compromising the taste of your food.
You see, you don’t have to sacrifice the taste of your all time comfort foods in order to make them healthy. Always remember there are alternatives. Of course, it is understandable to indulge from time to time. Ice cream, anyone? I mean… banana ice cream.
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