Healthy and comfort food aren’t usually paired together in the same sentence. Comfort food suggests unhealthy, calorific, giant sized plates of fat and sugar designed to trigger dopamine in the brain (the feel good hormone) and warm our bellies into a satisfied slumber when you’re feeling tired and grumpy.
There’s nothing wrong with high calorie comfort food per se, especially if you’re very active and need that much energy going in to cope with what you’re burning off. But traditional comfort food recipes are often made with highly processed grains, refined sugars and if you’re buying store bought versions, unhealthy trans fats.
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That makes making healthier and more nutritious versions much easier than you think. All it takes is a few smart swaps and you have a very similar and just and tasty comfort food dish that’s higher in vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy fats, lower in sugar and are much more satisfying without having to go back for third helpings!
Here are 5 Healthy Options for when you really need comfort food
1. Easy Cheesy Pie, serves 6
This is quite rich so you only need small portions. It’s also child friendly – as tested on my own small kids!
• 100g cheese
• 80g coconut flour
• 3 eggs
• 200g Cheddar or Swiss cheese, grated
• 3 eggs
• 180g plain yoghurt
• Butter for greasing
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚c, and grease a baking dish.
2. Mix all the crust ingredients together, and press into the prepared dish to line it.
3. Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
4. Mix all the filling ingredients together and pour into the pie base.
5. Bake for 30-40 mins until piping hot through.
6. Serve hot or cold, with green vegetables or salad.
2. Creamy Coconut Turkey Soup, serves 2-4
A perfect warming bowl when you’re not feeling great.
• 200g chopped or shredded turkey meat (cooked or uncooked, both are fine)
• 250ml coconut milk
• 200g chopped mushrooms
• 1/2 white onion
• 3 stalks celery
• 250ml chicken or vegetable stock
• Fresh ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. sage
1. Chop all the ingredients into bitesize pieces.
2. Put everything in saucepan or slow cooker.
3. Bring to a boil then simmer until all the meat is cooked and the vegetables are soft (20-30 minutes in a saucepan using cooked meat, up to 4 hours or more in a slow cooker using raw or alternatively leave it unblended, or try a mix by blending half and stirring it back into the unblended portion.
3. Paleo Sausage rolls, Makes 8 slices
This pastry recipe is miles ahead of soggy, processed wheat pastry, both in taste and nutrition.
• 60g butter or ghee melted
• 25g ground almonds
• 25g Flax meal (ground flax)
• 25g Hemp or pea protein
• 25g Coconut Flour
• 3 eggs
• ½ tsp salt
• Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
• 300g good quality sausage meat
1. Preheat oven to 200˚c.
2. Mix all the pastry ingredients together, reserving half an egg, into a ball, and refrigerate, wrapped in cling film, for half an hour to firm up.
3. Tear off a large piece of baking paper and place your pastry ‘ball’ onto it.
4. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry into a long rectangle shape.
5. Remove the top sheet of paper, and place the sausage meat in a long line down one side of the pastry.
6. Fold over the pastry by lifting over the underside of baking paper, and pressing the edges of the pastry down around the sausage.
7. Brush with the remaining egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is browning and the sausage meat is thoroughly cooked.
4. Blackberry & Walnut Crumble, Serves 4
There’s nothing like an afternoon picking your own blackberries before going home to promptly eat them all!
• 115g cup walnuts
• 1 tsp. mixed spice
• 1 tbsp. coconut oil
• 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
• 400g blackberries
1. Preheat the oven 180˚c.
2. In a food processor or blender, grind the walnuts with the mixed spice and coconut oil until finely chopped.
3. Stir the vanilla into the berries and pour into an ovenproof dish, then top with the crumble mix.
4. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the topping is lightly browned.
5. Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt, if liked.
5. Pumpkin Pie, Serves 4-6
I always save my pumpkin flesh at Halloween, but the rest of the year tinned is available online or in some supermarkets.
• 120g almond flour
• 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
• 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
• Pinch of salt
• 240g pumpkin puree
• 250ml coconut milk
• 2 eggs
• 60ml maple syrup
• ¼ tsp. cinnamon
• Little pinch each of nutmeg and ginger
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚c.
2. Mix all the crust ingredients together and press into one large ovenproof dish, or 4-6 individual flan dishes.
3. Bake for 10 minutes or until turning golden.
4. Whisk all the filling ingredients together then pour into the baked pie crust.
5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set.
6. Serve warm or cold.
No longer does comfort food have to be relegated to cold November nights when you’re due to spend the next few months covered up under layers of wool.
With the right healthy comfort food recipes, when you’re needing a nutritious hug, you can have it any time!
You can also read the article on comfort foods when you are sick by clicking here.
This Article is written by WatchFit expert Pollyanna Hale