At the end of a long and tiring day, there’s nothing better than having a big bowl of your favorite comfort food. But when most people attempt to eat healthier, the first thing they cut off is their comfort foods. After all, these are usually high in fat and calories.
But did you know that it’s possible to make your favorite comfort foods healthier without sacrificing taste? This means you won’t have to remove them from your diet since they can still play an important role in maintaining your healthy relationship with food.
If you’re looking for healthier comfort food alternatives but don’t know where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five ways to make your favorite comfort foods a bit healthier!
1. Use leaner cuts of meat
When it comes to comfort food classics like beef stew or chili, using leaner cuts of meat can make a big difference in the overall healthfulness of the dish. Opt for lean ground beef or turkey, and trim any visible fat off meat before cooking. This simple swap will help reduce the amount of saturated fat in your meal.
Of course, you can also lighten up your comfort food by using less meat overall. Incorporate more beans, lentils, or vegetables into the dish to make it a bit heartier and filling without all the extra saturated fat. This will give your comfort food a nutritional boost while still satisfying your craving.
You could also try using plant-based alternatives like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. These can be just as satisfying as traditional meat but are often much lower in fat and calories. And since plant-based meat is usually packed with protein, it can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
2. Choose whole-grain options
Another way to make your comfort food healthier is by choosing whole-grain options instead of refined grains. This swap will help increase the fiber and nutrient content of your meal while also keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
For example, opt for whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta or brown rice instead of white rice. You could also try using quinoa, barley, or farro in place of rice or pasta. These whole grain options will add more flavor and texture to your dish while also providing a healthy dose of fiber.
3. Go for lower-fat dairy
Dairy is often a key ingredient in many comfort foods, from macaroni and cheese to mashed potatoes. But it can also add a lot of unwanted saturated fat and calories to a dish. Opt for lower-fat versions of dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt when possible.
You could also use plant-based dairy alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew cheese. These options are often lower in calories and fat than their dairy counterparts but can still provide the same creamy texture and flavor.
For instance, vegan ice cream is often made with coconut milk and is just as delicious as the real thing. After eating ice cream, make sure you drink plenty of water, so your teeth don’t rot. But if your teeth start hurting, don’t hesitate to visit your preferred dental clinic to get them treated immediately. This way, you won’t have to give up your love for ice cream!
4. Incorporate more veggies
Vegetables are a great way to add volume, fiber, and nutrients to any dish while also helping to reduce the overall calorie content. So, if you’re looking to lighten up your comfort food, be sure to incorporate plenty of veggies into the mix.
This could mean adding extra vegetables to your chili or beef stew or using butternut squash in your mac and cheese. You could also try using vegetable-based alternatives to some of your favorite comfort foods. For instance, there are now many veggie-based versions of classic dishes like lasagna, shepherd’s pie, and even pizza.
5. Use healthier oils and fats
When it comes to cooking comfort food, many people automatically reach for unhealthy oils and fats like butter or lard. That’s why it’s often something they avoid entirely. However, there are healthier options that you can use in place of these unhealthy fats.
For instance, olive oil is an excellent option for sauteing or stir-frying vegetables. It’s also a healthy choice for dressing salads or pasta dishes. And if you’re looking for fat to use in baking, try using avocado oil or coconut oil instead of butter. These healthier oils and fats will help reduce the saturated fat content of your dish without sacrificing flavor.
Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up on fat. After all, your body needs fat to function correctly. Just choose healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil instead of unhealthy fats like butter or lard.
Remember, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or satisfaction to eat healthily. With a few simple swaps, you can enjoy all of your favorite comfort foods without all the guilt. So go ahead and indulge in your favorites, knowing that you’re doing something good for your body.