10 Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Comfort Foods

Rich, familiar dishes warm us inside and out. Often, however, these favorites are overloaded with calories that can lead to unwanted weight gain.

If you’re craving comfort food but want to stay health-conscious, there’s a way to enjoy it: swap out a few ingredients and use some alternative techniques. This way you can enjoy your favorite foods and stay on track.

Sports and wellness nutritionist Emily Edison, who also owns Momentum Nutrition and Fitness in Seattle, Washington, has become an expert on healthy ready meals. Her advice: “Only change one ingredient at a time. As with any good research experiment, you only want to change one variable. If it then flops, you know where the problem was. And accept progress without perfection. Sometimes it’s not possible to restore a recipe to the delicious perfection it was with two cups of heavy cream and two cups of butter. But your heart will thank you.

More: 4 Comfort Food Tweaks That Won’t Expand Your Waistline

Edison recommends these substitutions:

  • Replace 50 percent of the white flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Use coconut oil instead of butter. Because of its richness, use 3/4 cup coconut oil if the recipe calls for 1 cup butter.
  • Try soy milk instead of whole milk. Skim milk doesn’t work well because of the water content.
  • Add evaporated skim milk instead of cream.
  • Greek yogurt is a great sour cream alternative.
  • If a recipe calls for cream cheese, try light cream cheese or use a ricotta and tofu mix.
  • Think in halves. When making lasagna or ordering pizza, use half the cheese. For chocolate chip cookies, use half nuts and half chocolate chips.
  • Substitute graham cracker crust in place of regular pie crust.

More: A healthy makeover for festive desserts

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