One of my favorite things about winter is all of the wonderful comfort food that we get to eat. Over the years, comfort food has become a staple in American cuisine; with just about every household having their own variation or twist on these classics. Often times these hearty delicacies are high in calories or fat, and usually are not the healthiest meals for us to consume. These kinds of dishes can pose serious risk to the overwhelmingly high percentage of people who make dieting or health related resolutions for the new year. After all, they are so yummy, who could pass up a tasty mac n cheese or meatloaf? I have found several methods to transforming rich comfort foods into healthy dinner choices without altering their distinct flavors.
One of the key components in eating healthy, across the board is to make your meals from scratch. It is very easy in this hurry up world to buy the pre-made frozen foods, but what you make up for in convenience you lose out on in health. I am providing several ways that you can improve your health in cooking. Cutting back on the use of vegetable oil or butter is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to make changes in your diet. Most often, people use a lot more of these products than really need to be used. Also avoid using products that have high fructose corn syrup or are high in sugar. If a recipe calls for adding refined sugar, you can easily replace that with a more natural ingredient like honey. If possible, use locally made honey, as this can help fight seasonal allergies by exposing you to local plants and pollen; this method works very similar to a vaccine.
Have a craving for a creamy casserole? Try replacing the milk or cream in the recipe with evaporated fat free milk. You will end up with the same desirable creaminess, but with half the fat and far less calories. This will also apply with mashed potatoes, but there are some other alterations that can be made here. Try using Yukon Gold potatoes, since they are naturally creamy. Just eliminate the cream all together and replace it with a full flavored stock. You can also replace some of the potatoes with cauliflower in dishes like sheppard’s pie. You still end up with the same outcome, just a far more healthy choice than straight potatoes. Whenever possible, replace the potatoes with either beans or lentils; they have the same starchy goodness while providing nutrients and health benefits.
Another way to increase the healthiness of comfort food is replacing beef with either bison or elk. Unlike with beef, these animals are typically grass fed and free range. Their nutrient content is much higher than beef, and usually have less fat. The price tag is slightly higher than that of beef, but these health factors make the slightly higher price worth paying. If you are making meatballs or meatloaf with bison or elk, you can also use whole oats in place of the breadcrumbs. That’s added fiber to your diet, along with all of the benefits of eating whole grains. If you happen to be worried about cholesterol then whenever possible, try switching the red meat in a recipe with poultry.