Everyone loves comfort food. Whether it’s a piping hot bowl of pasta, a slice of pizza or an ice cream sundae, the siren song of junk food can be hard to resist. What makes comfort food so wonderful is that we often associate it with positive feelings and memories. While it’s important to eat food that makes you feel good, it shouldn't have a negative effect on your physical health. Unfortunately, a lot of comfort foods are high in fat, sugar and empty carbohydrates, resulting in high SmartPointsTM values in comparison to lighter food choices.
However, by substituting healthy ingredients into traditional recipes it can be easy to lower the overall SmartPoints value and boost the nutritional profile of your favourite comfort food.
Rethink your ice cream
Try replicating the sweet, creamy texture of regular ice cream by using frozen bananas. Add 3 sliced frozen bananas to a food processor and pulse until they start to become creamy. Add 1 tablespoon of your favourite nut butter, 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon of protein powder (optional) and 3 tablespoons of cold water. Continue to blend until completely smooth. Freeze the ice cream in a lidded container for at least half an hour before sprinkling with your favourite ice cream toppings; frozen berries, dark chocolate chips and shredded coconut are all toppings that add extra sweetness to your healthier ice cream sundae.
The pasta possibilities are endless
Lasagna made with zucchini slices instead of lasagna noodles is a fun springtime take on this homey pasta dish. Thinly slice two zucchinis lengthwise and layer as you would for a regular lasagna, the sauce can be vegetarian, Bolognese or any other sauce that you like to use. Bake for 40 minutes in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven and let stand for 20 minutes before serving. Spaghetti squash is another well known pasta substitute that shines when paired with traditional sauces. Try sautéing 2 cloves of garlic with 1 teaspoon of dried chilies in olive oil until fragrant. Toss the cooked spaghetti squash in the pan and top with torn parsley, basil and freshly cracked black pepper. When trying these recipes keep in mind that these pasta substitutions can be combined with traditional pasta of any kind if the idea of using only vegetables doesn’t appeal to you.
A healthier pizza
Eggplant makes a tasty base for personal pizzas that can be made in the oven. Slice eggplant into thick rounds and bake for 20 minutes in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven, add your favourite pizza toppings and place under the broiler for three minutes or until the toppings start to brown. Zucchini rounds can be used in place of eggplant for mini pizza rounds that make beautiful appetizers, especially when topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf.
New guac on the block
Guacamole is a party favourite for a reason, but avocados have a high SmartPoints value (3 points) for only a quarter of a serving. Combining avocados with cooked and cooled broccoli is a great way to lower the value of guacamole, and it’s barely detectable as an ingredient. Boil 2 cups of broccoli until very soft and pulse in a food processor until smooth. Add to a bowl along with 2 ripe avocados, the juice of 1 lime, half a teaspoon of cumin, 2 thinly sliced scallions, cilantro and roughly chopped tomatoes. Serve in a big bowl alongside baked pita chips and crudités.