When we've had a long, hard day, many of us reach out for the foods we love and know will put a smile on our face. Be it mac n' cheese, chocolate ice cream, or fried chicken, we know it will put us in a better mood, even if these dishes do pack in the fat and calories.
Now, there are ways that you can get your comfort food fix without the guilt.
Cooking comfort foods with fewer calories is easy with a Crock-Pot, because not only is it easy to use, it provides great flavor without adding fats like butter or fry oils. Crock-Pots trap moisture, which is the key to great comfort food. Go-to ingredients include lean meats, vegetables, herbs, and spices. You can make veggie-packed soups, slow-roasted chicken, or turkey meatballs.
Mashed potatoes are often made with lots of butter, whole milk, cream, sour cream and cheese. Potatoes are healthy — they are low in calories and packed with fiber and potassium. Most of the fiber and potassium are found in the skin of the potato, so make sure to include the skin in your mashed potato recipe. Substitute lower-calorie ingredients, such as skim milk, half and half, and fat-free sour cream, and add some broccoli to increase nutrients (and color!) to this dish.
Have a sweet tooth? No need to cut out desserts, but try to incorporate more fruit-based desserts, like low-fat yogurt and berry parfaits, or substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate. Berries and dark chocolate both provide antioxidants which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
NO-BAKE MAC N' CHEESE
Start to finish: 25 minutes
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles (2 cups)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli
1 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 4 minutes. Add frozen broccoli and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and broccoli are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 cups milk in another large pot over medium-high heat until just simmering. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup milk, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture to the simmering milk; return to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in Cheddar, Parmesan and mustard until the cheese is melted.
Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the cheese sauce. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, over medium low heat, until heated through, about 1 minute.
Nutrition information per serving
412 Calories; 13 g Fat; 7 g Sat; 37 mg Cholesterol; 56 g Carbohydrates; 22 g Protein; 7 g Fiber; 640 mg Sodium; 236 mg Potassium.
(Recipe reprinted with permission of Eat Well)