healthy comfort food does exist!
When you want to be healthy, don’t think that means eating a salad at every meal, feeling deprived, and simply not enjoying life!
Wether its your favorite comfort foods or holiday dishes, eating with friends and family should be fun and enjoyable and I'm here to show you that you don’t have to miss out on eating the foods that you LOVE… because there are so many simple ingredient swaps to make comfort food dishes still taste delicious but healthy too!
Still indulge in your favorite dishes but make simple swap outs for processed/refined ingredients (oil, sugar, flour) for real, whole food ingredients.
To make a dish healthier, I always emphasize on sneaking in more plant foods that are nutrient-dense foods that are working for YOU, not against you! These foods give you more nutrients for your calorie buck! Plant foods are high fiber, high water volume (keeping you full), low calorie, nutrient rich, and anti-oxidant/ anti-aging and packed with plant phytochemicals! Plant foods have lots of fiber to help balance blood sugars, regulate hormones and sustain energy (with no thanksgiving food Coma!). Think about how you can get in more whole foods (from the ground/farm not from a package or box), i'm talking about the foods that don’t require a food label, ones with one ingredient - vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. - into your families favorite comfort food dishes such as these…
Skip the muffin or pastry and go with baked whole fruit! If you’re a sweet tooth person, you’ll love this breakfast idea - high protein, healthy fats (mono-unsaturated/ omega-3’s), real food ingredients with fiber and nutrients compared to empty calories, added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and fats in pastries and other baked goods. The key here really is fiber! Replace sweet empty calorie foods for sweet fiber containing foods! The combination of fiber and natural occurring sweetness from fruit wont spike your blood sugars as much and by added protein from the greek yogurt, you’ ll get a great a balanced of food groups to keep you full throughout the day and a boost of probiotics for gut health!
Recipe -Apple Crisp Breakfast Bake
(vegan, gluten free)
Tip - can sub apples for other seasonal fruit like pears or blueberries! Pick a fruit in season for sustainability and nutritional peak! This recipe also makes a great dessert topped with ice-cream!
Core and slice apples into thin pieces with Madeline.
Lay apple slices out on a tray and coat with lemon juice, maple syrup, tapioca starch, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract.
Spray a 8x8 baking pan with canola oil and overlap apple slices into rows. Sprinkle on a little more maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice.
Top apple slices with homemade granola and hemp seeds.
Bake in oven at 350 for 30 min.
Sever with vanilla greek yogurt for breakfast or ice cream for a healthy dessert!
10 granny smith apples (could use golden delicious apples if you want it to be more sweeter)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice from one lemon
2-3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup homemade almond coconut granola or minimally processed store bought granola such as Wild Way
3 tbsp. hemp seeds
Optional: Vanilla Greek yogurt or almond milk greek yogurt for dairy free/ vegan option
This soup is so easy to make and so creamy, you wouldn’t know it was plant-based! A dairy free, gluten free, and plant based substituted for a high caloric/ high fat creamer, cheese, or butter that you’d find in most chowders is swapping out for homemade almond milk! Making your own almond milk can be as easy as putting 1/2 cup raw almond to 1-1.5 cup water in your blending and blending until smooth!
Also, an easy substitute for refined oil (highly caloric) in soups like this is swapping out for vegetable stock! Its automatic for people to add in oil, sometimes its not necessary, you just need some liquid such as a stock so that your ingredients doesn’t stick to your pan! This trick can cut out a few hundred calories and instead you will get healthy fats from the almond milk and still feel super satisfied!
Recipe - Vegan Creamy Corn Chowder
(vegan, dairy free, gluten free)
Chop your celery and onions and add them into a large pot with 3 tbsp. vegetable stock on medium heat. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 min.
Meanwhile, chop the rest of your vegetables.
Add corn, carrots, broccoli, quinoa, garlic, veg stock and spices to your pot. Turn heat to med/high heat until soup begins to simmer just enough to cook quinoa (about 8 min). Then once simmering, turn down heat to medium to not overcook the vegetables.
Meanwhile, make your almond milk by adding almonds and water to a blender. Blend on high until smoothie and creamy! (depending on how creamy you’d like your soup add more or less water to your almond milk creamer)
Add almond milk to soup and mix until combined.
Cook soup for another 5-10 min to allow quinoa to absorb almond milk.
Serve and enjoy!
Corn Chowder -
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 organic carrots, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups frozen or fresh yellow corn
1 cup broccoli, chopped
40 fl oz vegetable stock
Dash Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Dash Garlic powder
s/p to taste
Homemade Almond Milk Cream -
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 cup filtered water
(add more or less water depending
on how creamy you’d like your almond milk)
Modify pasta dishes with a bean based pasta (edamame, lentil, black bean) or a brown rice pasta for added protein and plant fiber!
Make favorite pasta dishes seasonal by utilizing peak season vegetables (much more sustainable for the planet, more nutrient dense and flavorful!) for your sauce such as pureeing roasted butternut squash or pumpkin for the Fall!
Also, sub ricotta cheese for a super creamy tofu ricotta recipe below for a high plant based protein dinner! This dish is packed with flavor from anti-inflammatory fresh herbs and aromatic compounds like rosemary, garlic, and onion!
Recipe - Rosemary Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll Ups
(vegan, dairy free, gluten free)
Recipe collaboration with my foodie friend and recipe developer, Blaire. from missfingerfoodie.com
Preheat oven to 375.
Chop butternut squash, and coat with drizzled evoo, s/p, fresh rosemary and one garlic clove. Bake in oven for 40 min.
Meanwhile, chop kale, mushrooms and onion and add onion and mushrooms to a sauce pan with a little evoo over medium heat and cook for 5 min. Add in your kale and cook until wilted. Turn off heat and set aside.
Boil a pot of water for lasagna noodles and cook according to box instructions.
Meanwhile, make tofu ricotta by adding in all of your ingredients into a blender with 1/2 cup of your roasted rosemary butternut squash after cooked in the oven. Blend tofu ricotta until smooth and creamy. Add mixture to the saucepan with your onions, mushrooms and kale.
Once butternut squash is done, add to blender with raw cashews, vegetable stock (add more or less to thin out into pourable sauce consistency), s/p. Blend until smooth. Pour 1/2 cup butternut squash sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and set aside to use for sauce on top of lasagna.
Assemble your rolls ups by spreading about 1/2 cup tofu ricotta mixture evenly on one lasagna noodle. Roll lasagna noodle and place lasagna roll up seam side down in 9x13 baking dish. Do this for all 6 lasagna rolls ups, top with butternut squash sauce, and garnish with rosemary.
Bake covered with aluminum foil in oven at 350 for 35 min and enjoy!
Rosemary Butternut Squash Lasagna -
1.5 lbs chopped butternut squash
18 oz organic non GMO sprouted, firm tofu
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cups fresh kale, chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 brown rice lasagna noodles
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1.5-2 cups vegetable stock
s/p to taste
Tofu ricotta filling -
18 oz firm sprouted organic tofu
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Fresh juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup roasted rosemary butternut squash
Dessert tips -
Watch out for crusts and pastries with: refined white sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined white flour, refined oil, saturated fats, trans fats
Swop crust with: raw nuts or seeds with whole dates!
Whole nuts or seeds such as: almonds, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or flax seeds, will work great in a crust! Nuts and seeds are small but packed with lots of nutrients, fiber and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats! Mounting evidence suggests that eating nuts and seeds daily can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease and may even lengthen your life.
To avoid refined added sugars or artificial sweeteners in desserts, swop out for whole pitted dates! The key really is that dates are a naturally occurring sweetener that has fructose but in combination with fiber which helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels! Dates also have other nutrients such as calcium and iron unliked refined sugar, honey or maple syrup.
Lastly when possible, try to go with portion controlled desserts and make your favorite recipe into a mini or bite size personal serving! This will allow you to indulge and enjoy but stay mindful of how much you’re really eating!
Watch out for cream cheese or heavy cream
Swop cream cheese or cream with: greek yogurt style cream cheese or almond milk cream cheese!
Recipe - Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Add all almond crust ingredients to food processor. Blend until dough ball forms.
Add cupcake baking cups to cupcake tin and add 1.5 tbsp. almond crust mixture to bottom of cupcake cups pressing down on edges and sides until smooth (use wax paper to press down so crust doesn’t stick to your fingers)
Next add cream cheese, dates, vanilla, yogurt, and 1/2 tbsp cinnamon to a blender and blend until smooth.
transfer to a bowl and whisk in your eggs.
Split cream cheese mixture into two bowls. Add pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and remaining cinnamon to one bowl. Mix until incorporated.
Pour 50/50 pumpkin cheesecake and white cheesecake mixture into cupcake cups. Use a toothpick to swirl pumpkin mixture into cheesecake mixture.
Bake for 35 min. or until center of cheesecakes are cooked. After baking let cheesecakes sit until cooled. Top with coconut whip cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice!
Almond crust -
3/4 cup Raw almonds
6 pitted dates
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl -
3, 8-oz blocks cream cheese (greek style cream cheese or almond milk cream cheese)
8-10 pitted dates (taste and adjust per desired sweetness)
1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt (I go with Siggi’s vanilla)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice
Optional: coconut whip cream
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