February is the perfect month for comfort food. The days are short, cold, and (at times) gray. All you’d like to do is curl up with a warm blanket and a big bowl of comfort food. In this post, you will learn how to cook healthier comfort food. I will talk about seven tips you can use when you are trying to make your comfort food recipe a little healthier.
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #1: Choose healthier fats.
Many comfort food recipes call for butter. Instead, try using olive, canola, or avocado oil. These oils have more mono- and poly- unsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats than butter. For example, try using olive oil in your recipe for mac and cheese.
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #2: Swap in whole grains.
If the recipe calls for refined grains (think: white rice, pasta, white bread, crackers), swap in your favorite whole grain versions. Not only do whole grains add a wonderful nutty flavor, but they tend to also have a heartier texture than their refined grain counterparts. Not sure if whole grains are your thing? Try half refined and half whole grains at first (like a mixture of brown and white rice or whole grain and white flour pasta).
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #3: When it comes to cheese, a little goes a long way.
Cheese is full of flavor, and that’s great for comfort food. Cheese can also be full of calories, sodium, and saturated fat. Try your recipe by using half the cheese it calls for. Need that cheesy flavor? Try nutritional yeast on casseroles, mixed into sauces, and even sprinkled on top of popcorn!
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #4: Thicken your sauces without the cream.
You know a secret? You can make sauces creamy by simply adding a little whole grain flour and homemade stock together! This is what I use to thicken and create a creamy consistency, without the cream.
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #5: Add veggies – lots of them.
Veggies not only add vitamins and minerals without a lot of calories, but they also add colorful textures and flavors to a dish. Add mushrooms to your alfredo, extra peppers to your chili, more carrots and celery in your chicken soup. Those additional veggies not only will give you the nutrition you need, but they also impart a depth of flavor to your dish.
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #6: Go nuts.
Sometimes, comfort food needs a little crunch on top. Instead of crushed crackers or breadcrumbs, try toasted nuts! The crunch from the nuts, coupled with the rich flavor, finishes off any comforting casserole.
Healthier Comfort Food Tip #7: Brighten your plate with fruits.
Sometimes, comfort food can be just a little too heavy for the season. Brighten your plate and palate with fresh fruits. I love a citrus and pomegranate salad. Even fresh dates can have a caramel-like without the added sugar.
How do you make your comfort food healthier? Let me know in the comments!
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