What do comfort foods mean to you? Think of a few favorites and they are probably high in fat and calories. Comfort foods are designed to calm, soothe and console by stimulating receptors in our brain. Genetic variation causes some people to be more sensitive to the taste of fat than others and might explain why some people desire that second slice of pie while others do not.
Changing a traditionally high fat recipe to a healthier option includes substituting all or some of the high fat ingredients to reduce calories without sacrificing flavor. Adjusting the recipe might also include adding foods that increase the overall nutritional value.
Below are a few classic ways to lower the calorie content while boosting nutritional value:
Pizza - much of the calories are concentrated in the meat (pepperoni, sausage, etc ) and the cheese. Substitute turkey sausage for the pork sausage and reduce the total amount of cheese used or substitute with reduced-fat cheese. Remember fat-free cheese does not melt well.
Macaroni and cheese - a traditional favorite. Fat calories can be reduced by substituting full fat cheese for reduced-fat. Adding bite-sized colorful vegetables, like broccoli, carrots or onions contributes to nutritional value.
Fried chicken drumsticks - Reduce the fat content by rolling in oats instead of dipping in batter and frying. Baking instead of frying lowers the fat content even more.
Mini-quiche - replace all of half of the cheese with reduced fat or part-skim milk cheese. Adding vegetables like broccoli, onions, mushrooms increases the phytochemical content. Replacing bacon bits with turkey bacon, also reduces calorie content without sacrificing flavor.
Meatloaf: Swapping lean turkey or ground bison for some or all of the beef can reduce the overall fat content. Meat from bison and lean turkey are also lower in saturated fat.
Pancakes and waffles - substituting whole grain for white flour increases fiber content. Adding ground flaxseed will also boost fiber. Berries provides a splash of color plus a phytochemical and fiber boost. The increased fiber can slow the rate of digestion, making you feel fuller and satisfied sooner. That is good news if too many calories are an issue.
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Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD