Crave-worthy (Better-for-you) Comfort Food

Baby, it’s cold outside, and a warm, cheesy deep-dish pizza just sounds sooo good right now. With chilly weather that makes you just want to wrap yourself in a blanket, how can we satisfy that comfort food craving without resorting to such rich dishes every night?

It can be hard to resist these cravings, especially when the kids love meals like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese so much more than something light liked grilled chicken and steamed veggies. On top of being cold, maybe you have a cold — so that means you can eat whatever you want, right?

Well you can have your cake and eat it too! With a little healthy modification, here’s some tasty ways to enjoy those all time favorites.

Soup and Chili

A warm bowl of hearty soup or chili really hits the spot on a cold, gray day, right? But soup doesn’t have to be super heavy or rich to accomplish that food for the soul feeling. With a few tweaks, it can actually be incredibly nourishing.

  • Cream is delicious, but just try not to use it so much. Use 2% or whole milk instead of heavy cream in creamy soups. Try adding a can of pureed white beans to thicken a vegetable soup. It’ll leave you with a delicious, filling and satisfying bowl. Plus boosting beans is associated with better long-term health.
  • Kids who typically won’t eat anything green will eat a vibrant green soup! Be sure to add savory herbs like thyme or parsley. I find a squeeze of fresh lemon juice makes green soups taste brighter and more flavorful.

Use lean protein as an accent in soups. For example, add cut up deli ham instead of bacon, for chili, instead of using ground beef, swap in ground turkey. You can even stock up on canned vegetarian chili when it’s on sale, and add in ground turkey that has been browned in a pan. Add the turkey to a pot of the canned soup for a fast and easy weeknight meal.

Mac & Cheese

Gooey, cheesy mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Luckily, there are some amazing alternatives that taste just as gooey without all the ooey.

  • Start with whole-wheat macaroni, quinoa pasta or garbanzo bean pasta. The extra fiber will help your digestion.
  • Cut the cheese in half and add pureed butternut squash for some extra Vitamin A and fewer calories.
  • Add in left-over chopped cauliflower then top with bread crumbs and shredded Land O’Frost Premium Old Fashioned Cooked Ham. Yum!

BBQ Turkey Flatbread

Any kid who loves pizza will love this 5-ingredient flatbread, and you’ll love that it’s ready in less than 20 minutes. Always have some pre-made pizza dough on hand so you can whip up a few of these for dinner.

  • Start with 6 oz. of pre-made pizza dough. Roll out the dough and bake for 5 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Take dough out, and add 4 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce, 2 Tablespoons of chopped white onion and 1 package Simply Delicious Honey Roasted Turkey Breast.
  • Finish with ¼ cup mozzarella shredded cheese and put back in oven for 10 more minutes or until brown on top.

If you want to bookmark or pin the recipe, it’s here.

Personalized Pizzas

Make everyone’s favorite food a little less guilt-ridden. Plus, pizza can serve as a vehicle to introduce new (healthy) foods, like chopped veggies, that kids might find more yummy served on top of the pizza. If kids cook their own personal pizza, they can choose which healthy toppings they’d like, so they are way more likely to scarf them down. Here are some ideas:

  • Start with whole-wheat flat bread, pita bread, English muffins or tortillas.
  • Lay out healthy colorful toppings liked marinated glass jarred peppers or frozen reheated tricolor peppers (which require no washing and minimal preparation); along with chopped broccoli (cook briefly in the microwave, so it’s still bright green), mushrooms or eggplant.
  • Roast some garlic for a creamy, butter-like topping that is rich and savory, yet super nutritious. Pour some olive oil over a garlic bulb and wrap in foil and bake alongside your homemade pizza.
  • Include a variety of cheeses, like low-fat mozzarella, fresh mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • Yum, yum, yum. Enjoy these wholesome comfort foods that benefit your body all while giving you that cozy, soul food flavor you love.

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