Healthy Comfort Food

It’s like I jinxed the weather! All of a sudden winter has arrived in London and it’s bloody freezing… And when it gets cold all I want to eat is comfort food while sitting under a blanket with the heating on. But comfort eating doesn’t have to mean letting your clean eating plan go, here’s my hints and tips on how to ‘healthify’ some of my favourite recipes. 

Healthy and comforting dinners

Minced meat is one of the most comforting dinners in my opinion, you can make it into so many things! Lasagna, shepherd’s pie, bolognese, chilli, the list is endless. 

Shepherd’s pie:

Shepherd’s pie has got to be made with lamb mince so why not lighten up the topping by using a mixture of sweet potato and carrot rather than white potatoes? Simply boil 2 large sweet potatoes with 1 large carrot and mash with a tablespoon of coconut oil (to give it that creaminess) and some salt and pepper. Top your cooked mince with the sweet potato/carrot mixture and bake for 45 minutes until bubbling and delicious.

Chilli:

For a start, try lean turkey mince rather than beef to make your chilli, you won’t be able to tell the difference, I promise! It’s still high in protein but it’s naturally lower in fat. Then, once it’s ready, serve it with some roasted sweet potato wedges and a big pile of steamed greens rather than white rice. 

Healthy snacks

Sometimes you just need a snack but an apple or some celery sticks just won’t cut it (pretty much every afternoon right?) and as snack time is one of the easiest places to slip up, make sure you’re prepared. Here’s a couple of ideas… 

Popcorn:

Corn kernels are very cheap to buy in the supermarket and so ridiculously easy to make that you’ll wonder why you ever spent money buying any other popcorn! Put a handful of corn kernels (it makes more than you think!) in a microwave-safe container, cover loosely with a plastic lid and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take out the popped kernels and put the remaining unpopped kernels back in for another 2 minutes, continue this process until they’re all popped. You can then sprinkle with salt, coconut sugar or a teaspoon of butter and cinnamon, basically whatever you want! But keep the toppings light otherwise you’ll undo all the good work you’re doing by making your own popcorn. 

Frozen yogurt:

This one is so simple! Buy some yogurt (I prefer full fat goats milk yogurt) and freeze it. See, I told you. Just remember to stir it every 20-30 minutes so that it stays creamy, or use an ice cream maker if you’re lucky enough to have one. Again, you can flavour it with anything. I like a scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder, some crushed raspberries or if you’re feeling posh you could make a syrup of agave infused with basil and lemongrass to mix in. 

So there you go! Although we all struggle with staying on the straight and narrow when there’s biscuits and cakes in the office, or the allure of the takeaway menus in the drawer, you can eat comfort food to soothe your soul and still stay healthy. 

What recipes would you like to see made healthy? 

Food Cupboard Essentials

Picture the scene…. You’ve had a long day at work, you’re tired and hungry. You come home, open the fridge and, shock horror, it’s empty! 

What do you do? 

It’s so easy to pick up the phone and call your local Chinese or Indian takeaway shop but you had your cheat meal for lunch and a greasy plate of questionably-sourced food just isn’t going to cut it. 

Here’s my top-10 list of things that you should always have in your cupboard or freezer to avoid these disastrous evenings:

1) Gluten free pasta – simply boil and mix with a can of tuna, a tbsp of pesto or pasta sauce, some frozen vegetables and a few pumpkin seeds for a quick and healthy comfort-food dinner

2) Pole and line caught sustainable tuna – canned tuna is never as good as fresh tuna but it can sit in the cupboard for months and it provides a great hit of low-fat protein with a salad or mixed in pasta as above

3) Quinoa – cook with some organic vegetable bouillon and then add in whatever you want. It’s a great source of vegetable protein, filling and a healthier alternative to white rice

4) Frozen vegetables – I always keep frozen soy beans, peas and spinach in my freezer to add to pasta sauces or defrost to add bulk to a salad

5) Frozen fruit – cherries, berries, bananas, mangoes, the list goes on! Great for putting in smoothies, porridge or just munching when you want a cold, sweet treat

6) Oats – If you’re really desperate, porridge makes a great dinner. 25g of oats with a sprinkle of seeds or nuts and some frozen cherries, all cooked with water is delicious

7) Canned beans – I love adding cannellini beans, kidney beans or chickpeas to a salad for a serving of plant-based protein. They’re also really filling,which is great when you’re starving! 

8) Frozen soup – When you’re making soup, make enough to feed a small army and then freeze what you don’t need in individual portions. It can be defrosted very quickly and is perfectly satisfying

9) Thai curry paste – if all you have is scrag ends of vegetables, stir-fry them with some Thai curry paste and you’ve got a spicy and warming dinner

10) Frozen wholewheat tortillas – this is for when you’re really desperate… defrost a couple of tortillas, spread some tomato paste on them and top with grated cheese and whatever else is left in the fridge. Ta dah! Healthy pizzas! 

What’s your favourite food cupboard dinner?