by Eileen Seiler
When the temps drop, we all head straight for those feel good meals that warm our insides and stir up good memories. Whether it’s mac and cheese, chicken potpie or a big bowl of soup, comfort foods satisfy those winter cravings like nothing else does. Unfortunately a lot of the ingredients that add the comfort - like cream, butter, cheese and pasta - also add calories, cholesterol and complications for the gluten or lactose sensitive. Here are some tips for keeping the heartiness while increasing the healthfulness of your comfort foods.
- When making mac & cheese, use alternative pastas like whole wheat, rice, quinoa pastas, which maintain the same mouth-feel and can often add interesting new dimensions to the dish. You can also mix flax or wheat germ into the breadcrumbs on top for a boost in nutrition.
- A good way to thicken soups is by pureeing beans or vegetables instead of adding dairy. Otherwise, use low-fat milk or yogurt instead of cream and use oil for butter wherever possible.
- If you love those mashed potatoes, try introducing some mashed cauliflower or parsnips into the mix and cut back on the spuds. Veggie broth and a little butter can make them nice and creamy and garlic can make them magical.
- How many tongues have been burned because the temptation to dive right into a chicken potpie was too great? As comfort food goes, the chicken potpie is perfection. However, using whole grain flour for the crust can add to the nutrition value and taste. As with soup, use low fat milk or yogurt in the base. You can even switch out all or some of your regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.
- When it comes to food like fries and pizza, try making them yourself so you have control over the freshness and cooking processes. Although “baked fries” is an oxymoron, it is a better way to go. The secret to crispiness is cutting them thin and keeping the temp high. You can also go the baked sweet potato fries route as well. Do-it-yourself pizza is fun to make and eat. Try whole grain flour or make a cauliflower crust. As for the topping, the possibilities are limitless!