Comfort Food Recipe Revamps

“Comfort food” might indicate a different recipe for each one of us. Chili? Fried chicken? Mac and cheese? No matter what your favorite comfort food is, nothing else hits the spot quite like it!

Even though comfort foods make us feel good, they are often higher in fat and calories and may not be the best choice for our health. That doesn’t mean they need to be off limits…it just means they need a healthy revamp! Make some simple adjustments to your favorite recipe and you can enjoy it (guilt-free) a lot more often. Now that’s something that I find comforting!

A healthy meal starts with healthy ingredients.
Here are some simple ingredient substitutions that can decrease the amount of fat, calories and/or carbohydrate in your recipes without sacrificing taste:

Swap This…

For This!

Why?

Ground beef or sausage
  • 90% (or higher) ground beef
  • Ground sirloin
  • Ground or shredded chicken breast
  • Ground turkey breast
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
Half the meat
  • Beans
  • Textured vegetable protein (soy)
  • Less fat
  • More fiber
Whole milk or cream Fat-free half and half
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
Whole milk cheese Reduced-fat cheese (and use less)
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
Cream cheese Reduced-fat cream cheese (and use less)
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
Sour cream Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
Butter
  • Margarine (non-hydrogenated)
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Less saturated fat
  • More healthy unsaturated fats
Whole eggs Egg whites
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
White/enriched pasta Whole wheat pasta
  • More fiber
White/refined rice
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • More fiber
Bacon Paprika (spice)
  • Spices have no calories, fat or carbs!
“Regular” broth Low-sodium broth
  • Less sodium
“Cream of” soups
  • Healthy Request
  • Low-sodium
  • Reduced-fat
  • Look for the Heart check mark
  • Compare labels between cans for a heart-healthy product
Pie crust
  • Graham crackers
  • Use one crust only
  • Less fat
  • Fewer calories
  • Fewer carbs
Sugar Granulated alternative sweetener (like Splenda)
  • Fewer calories
  • Fewer carbs  

Always, always add vegetables!
Vegetables are packed with nutrition, flavor and are very low in calories and carbohydrate (not to mention fat-free). They also add bulk to a recipe so it becomes more filling. Mushrooms, onions, celery and green peppers are versatile vegetables that work in many different recipes.

When the weather gets colder, casseroles, soups and stews warm you up from the inside.
They can also be very healthy and easy to prepare. Use some of the substitutions above to make your favorite mixed dish healthier. Make a big pot or use your crock pot, then package leftovers and freeze them for a quick meal later on. Now you have convenient comfort food too.

Check out these websites for healthy versions of some comforting foods:

dLife.com: Low Carb Comfort Foods
dLife.com: 22 Scrumptious Stews
Meal Makeover Moms
SparkPeople: 11 Healthy Fall Comfort Foods

Next think about how you cook your favorite recipe.
If it involves frying, which adds extra fat and calories, consider alternative methods of cooking like baking or grilling. Here are a couple recipes for oven-fried chicken–that crispy texture you love without all the fat:

Healthy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders (SparkPeople)
Oven-Fried Chicken (Ellie Krieger, Food Network RD)
Oven-Fried Chicken Parmesan (Cooking Light)

Who said healthy eating had to be boring? Even your favorites can be prepared in a way that tastes good and is good for you too. Maybe you’ll even find some new favorites!

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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