Rich, familiar dishes warm us on the inside and out. However, often these favorites are loaded with calories that can cause unwanted weight gain.
If you crave comfort foods, but want to remain health-conscious, there's a way to enjoy them: swap out a few ingredients and use some alternative techniques. This way, you can savor your favorite foods and stay on track.
Sports and wellness dietician Emily Edison, who also owns Momentum Nutrition and Fitness in Seattle, Washington, has become an expert on making comfort foods healthy. Her advice: "Change only one ingredient at a time. Like any good research experiment, you only want to change one variable. Then if it flops, you know where the problem lived. And, accept progress without perfection. Sometimes it's not possible to re-make 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."
Edison recommends these substitutions:
- Replace 50 percent of white flour with whole-grain flour.
- Use coconut oil in place of butter. Because of its richness, use 3/4 cup of coconut oil if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter.
- Try soy milk in place of whole milk. Skim milk doesn't work well because of the water content.
- Add evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream.
- Greek yogurt is a great sour cream alternative.
- When a recipe calls for cream cheese, try light cream cheese or use a blend of ricotta and tofu.
- Think in terms of halves. When you make lasagna or order pizza, use half the cheese. For chocolate chip cookies, use half nuts and half chocolate chips.
- Substitute graham cracker crust instead of regular pie crust.