There’s a reason they call it comfort food. Your comfort foods take you to a happy place and have the power to make a bad day tolerable. Unfortunately, most comfort foods are also laden with fat, sodium and other things we need to avoid. Just a few subtle changes can make your comfort food good for you, while still tasting great. These five dishes are an example of comfort foods with a healthy twist.
Who doesn’t love to start the day with a steaming hot plate of pancakes? Unfortunately, pancakes made the traditional way are pretty bad for your waistline. In fact, an order of original pancakes from IHOP is loaded with a whopping 880 calories, and that’s before you add any toppings. Make your own healthy pancakes at home by using whole wheat flour instead of white flour, and yogurt or skim milk instead of two percent milk. Top your pancakes with fresh fruit instead of syrup for a breakfast fit for a king (or queen!).
Meatloaf is a classic comfort food, reminiscent of sitting around your mom’s dinner table. Serve it up to your family without feeling guilty by making a few healthy additions and substitutions. Forget about red meat, and instead use lean ground turkey. Don’t use store-bought bread crumbs — make your own by putting whole grain bread through a food processor. Use that processor to chop up tons of veggies as well. If you cut them up into tiny pieces, they’ll mix right in and add a ton of flavor. Try carrots, spinach, onions, zucchini or anything else you like to eat.
Make any comfort food better for you by replacing simple carbs with whole grains and adding fruits and vegetables.
Macaroni and cheese
This tasty twist on an all-time favorite dish is so gooey and cheesy, you’ll never realize it’s healthy too! Use whole-grain macaroni elbows, but only boil about half as much as you normally would for the dish. During the last three minutes of the boiling, add in a few cups of chopped cauliflower. The cauliflower will help bulk up the dish, and once it’s covered in cheese you’ll barely notice a difference between the vegetable and the pasta. Make the rest of your dish as you normally would, using non-fat and low-fat ingredients where you can. Just before you pop it in the oven, top it with bread crumbs made from whole grain bread.
There’s nothing like a grilled cheese sandwich to take you back to a better time. It’s easy to make a healthy version of this classic, while still serving up a tasty meal. Simply switch out white bread for a whole grain version, and use olive oil instead of butter to keep it from sticking. Use less cheese than you normally would, and add tomatoes, spinach or any other veggies you love for a delish, ooey-gooey treat you won’t feel bad eating.
Frozen yogurt sundae
There’s nothing like an ice cream sundae after a long day. Make a healthy switch by substituting frozen yogurt for ice cream, and topping it with fresh fruit and sugar-free whipped topping. It will still satisfy your craving, and it’ll be healthier than a big bowl of ice cream dripping in chocolate.