The term ‘comfort food’ has come to mean something negative, especially in relation to healthy eating. It’s seen as indulgent, emotionally-charged and decidedly unhealthy.
We often think of calorie-laden burgers, pizza, chocolate or ice cream: it’s stuff we know gives us a rush of feel-good chemicals in the brain (hence its hedonistic reputation).
However, enjoying foods that give you a sense of warmth isn’t a bad thing. It can be exactly what your body needs, provided you swap out unhealthy ingredients for better options.
Here are five simple swaps to turn traditionally ‘unhealthy’ comfort foods into nutritious ones!
1. Swap cheddar with ricotta
Low-fat ricotta is a great, lighter alternative to higher-fat cheddars and parmesans, especially when it comes to bechamel sauces in pasta.
You can also us it as a creamy, cheesy topping for nachos, spaghetti meatballs and cheese-on-toast (all delicious comfort foods!).
2. Swap milk chocolate with dark chocolate
There is research to suggest a little dark chocolate on a regular basis helps boost your immune system through its rich anti-oxidants.
What better excuse do you need to get on the dark stuff? Milk is much higher in sugar and milk fats.
3. Swap fries with baked sweet potato
The oil in a flash fryer means that, as delicious as hot chips are, they can be very calorie-dense. Swap them for thinly-sliced, oven-baked sweet potato with chopped rosemary and garlic. De-lish.
4. Swap tinned baked beans for homemade ones
So, this takes a little more effort, but it’s really worth it! And there’s nothing more comforting (at least for this ex-Brit) than beans on toast.
Create your own with cannellini beans, chopped cherry tomatoes, paprika, pepper and enough beef stock to create a bit of liquid. Bring all these to a simmer in a saucepan for 10 minutes (each portion should be half a cup on toast).
5. Sweets for chopped carrot
Yes, you read that correctly! It may seem odd at first, but if you’re craving something sweet after dinner, try eating a few sticks of chopped carrot. It’s sweet, crunchy and full of fibre. Trust us, this works.