Taste Homestyle Recipes with Comfort Food Alternatives
Comfort food is different for all, though they tend to be laden in sugar, fat, and calories. Try these “unhealthy” homestyle food recipes offering mega health benefits without sacrificing flavor!
Heading to the kitchen when feeling stressed, sad, or anxious? You are not alone and it is common to turn to comfort foods as a coping mechanism during stress.
Also called stress or emotional eating, turning to comfort foods is a way to find an emotional release. These foods can release dopamine in the brain and activate the reward and pleasure centers which can feel like comfort.
If reaching for more comfort foods, maybe more so during quarantine time, consider these healthy food alternatives.
What Is Comfort Food?
Comfort food is different for everyone and can be based on a combination of one grew up, cultural considerations, or other individual variances. What you may consider comforting may not provide any "comfort" to someone else.
Whether savory chicken pot pie or luscious dark chocolate ice cream, comfort foods invoke feelings of nostalgia and comfort often from childhood. One often craves comfort foods during times of stress as a way to provide comfort, familiarity, or positive feelings.
One similarity for comfort food recipes, no matter where you grew up, is they are usually high in at least one of the following: calories, sugar, fat or salt.
How You Get Cravings
First off, try to intrinsically tune in when feeling a food craving hit. Ask personal questions like:
• Why am I craving this food?
• Am I truly hungry?
• Am I feeling bored, stressed, sad or other emotions?
Comfort food cravings can come when you feel the need to be comforted or soothed mentally from a negative emotion you are feeling. Recognizing these root emotions can help you understand how you get cravings.
There may also be certain triggers that happen that may initiate a comfort food craving. Examples of triggers could include arguments, bad news, isolation, fatigue, etc.
To stop these cycles of emotional eating and cravings, consider implementing the following:
• Keep a food journal to write down what you eat and how you are feeling. This can provide insight into the triggers you have for emotional eating.
• Have other stress-relieving methods in place that are non-food related.
• Keep healthy snacks on hand and in sight to reach for when you want to eat something.
• Talk to friends, family, or other support networks for further support.
• Practice mindful eating.
• Enjoy comfort foods in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Healthy Homestyle Food Recipes
Making some slight adjustments to recipes can still give the tastes of whatever comfort foods you have while not sabotaging your health. If unsure how to make a delicious healthy food alternative of favorite comfort foods, do some research online.
There are so many recipes available as more people are now cooking at home and experimenting in the kitchen. Here are some "unhealthy" homestyle recipes that offer mega health benefits without sacrificing flavor!
Pasta and Lasagna
Lasagna can be lightened up by adding in vegetables, using lean ground meat and not overdoing the cheese. This garden vegetable lasagna does not sacrifice flavor and adds carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash to the recipe.
You can also lighten up alfredo, which is typically high in calories from the cream sauce, by substituting cooked cauliflower for part of the cream sauce.
Macaroni and Cheese
Adding in vegetables and/or using whole-grain pasta are some easy ways to make mac and cheese healthier. For example, this healthy mac and cheese recipe uses real milk and cheese but also has a secret ingredient…
This king ranch chicken mac and cheese is a nutrient-dense version that will satisfy everyone at the table. It is higher in protein and fiber than traditional mac and cheese, so it will keep you feeling satisfied longer.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Casseroles come in many forms, and they are often comforting in nature. Tuna noodle casserole is a classic dish, though it traditionally relies on ingredients rich in sodium and fat.
However, this healthy tuna noodle casserole is low in fat and free of free undesirable ingredients. Nothing fishy here, though, as this favorite still offers flavor as deep as the sea!
Beef stroganoff is a traditional Russian dish relished for its juiciness, tenderness, and richness. And while it may have originated in the 19th century, it continues to be a family favorite to this very day.
The one-pot beef stroganoff is prepped with nourishing ingredients and is already a simple recipe to throw together. And the use of a slow cooker can simplify the process, too. (This would be a perfect lazy Sunday dinner idea to cap off the weekend!)
Craving take out for comfort food? Instead of ordering pad thai or other Asian style stir fry, make this healthier chicken pad thai in 35 minutes without sacrificing any flavor.
If you are craving tator tots but want a healthier version, make these crispy cheesy broccoli cauliflower tots as a healthier yet satisfying alternative. These tots are baked instead of fried and are also considered keto-friendly and gluten-free.
If your idea of comfort food is crispy, hot French fries, you may think baking French fries at home is no comparison. However, this baked fries recipe promises to deliver crispy fries because it has a unique step of soaking potatoes prior to cooking. These fries can pair nicely with fish for a healthier version of fish and chips!
Also, give these sweet potato fries a try! The potatoes can also be transformed into a delicious sweet potato chip.
If something warm, sweet, and chocolatey is your idea of comfort food, brownies may be your go-to. Traditional brownies are usually higher in calories and added sugar, but there are many ways to make healthier versions of a brownie without sacrificing flavor or texture.
This healthier recipe for flourless fudgy brownies uses avocados to keep the fudgy-like texture of traditional brownies. You could also make healthier brownies with chocolate ganache frosting that are grain-free and higher in protein but you would never know. A secret ingredient is vanilla Greek yogurt.
Pancakes are beloved comfort food for many Americans, but they are traditionally high in refined flour and provide little nutritional value. Consider making healthier cinnamon apple pancakes that do not use any white flour and are naturally sweetened.
Healthy banana oatmeal pancakes are also flour-free, can be made with simple ingredients you probably have on hand and are made in a blender.
Make and enjoy a healthy Philly cheesesteak sandwich from your own home! This Philly cheesesteak slider recipe provides the delicious flavors of a traditional sandwich but has under 300 calories per serving.