Think of your last family get-together (wedding, birthday, funeral); while you may not recall every aspect of the day, you likely remember what your mom or grandma served for dinner. And can you think of a happy hour with your friends that did not involve either appetizers or cocktails?
Nearly every social situation in life involves food and, frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. Food is both a necessity and a luxury; we require nutrients to survive, but we also thrive on the delight and satisfaction from certain foods.
Comfort foods remind us of fond times, improves our moods and just tastes good. Comfort foods, however, do not always agree with our healthy lifestyle since they often call for butter and cream in the recipes, are deep-fried or include high-fat meats.
Since we cannot always alter social situations (or other common triggers to eating), we must modify the food if we plan to improve health. Try these recipes for some novel comfort foods made healthily. We guarantee you’ll find them just as tasty as their less-healthy counterparts.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves: Will depend upon how much broth you make
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Whole wheat egg noodles
Diced vegetables (peas, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and celery)
Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Herbs (thyme, crushed garlic and/or white pepper)
Follow directions on the chicken broth package. Once boiling, add diced vegetables and reduce heat to simmer. When the vegetables are nearly done, bring to boil again and add the noodles (follow package directions for time). Simmer for five minutes and serve.
Steak & Potatoes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 hour for potatoes in the oven; sirloin depends on desired doneness
6-oz grass-fed sirloin
Sweet potatoes (the yellow-ish variety)
Poke potatoes with a fork and place in 350 F oven. Baste sweet potatoes with a mixture of olive oil and garlic. Grill as usual to your preferred doneness.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
1 large egg white
2 tsps hot red pepper sauce
4 (6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup crushed Cornflakes cereal crumbs
2 tsps paprika
1 tsp each: dried thyme, garlic powder and salt
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg white and hot sauce until blended; add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature.
Combine Cornflakes crumbs, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, and salt in a shallow bowl.
Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and coat with cooking spray. Lift chicken pieces, one at a time, from buttermilk mixture and coat in seasoned crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Lightly spray crumb coating with cooking spray.
Bake 16 to 18 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the thickest parts and browned on the outside.
More from AskMen.com:
Smoked Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 10 min
3/4 pound whole wheat or spelt elbow macaroni
7 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp liquid Barbecue Smoke
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and cubed
1/4 cup chives or green onions
3/8 oz oat flour
7 fluid ounces light coconut milk
1/4 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt, pepper, paprika, and mustard powder to taste
Cook chicken in paprika, salt, pepper, and a little liquid smoke, then grill. Cube cooked chicken.
Cook pasta, drain.
In saucepan heat the coconut milk and flour, whisking constantly. When thick, remove from heat and add the cheese.
Finish with mustard powder, salt, pepper, tomato, and chives; add cooked pasta and chicken to coat.
Spicy Sweet Agave Chili
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 15 min
1 pound very lean ground turkey breast
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 organic green bell pepper, chopped
1 to 2 small jalapeno peppers, diced (or as many as you can handle)
1/2 can (7 oz) organic black beans
1/2 can (7 oz) organic kidney beans
1 can (14.5 oz) organic stewed tomatoes
1 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsps olive oil
Season to taste with chili powder, cumin, thyme, salt
Fresh cilantro (for garnish)
In large nonstick pot, heat olive oil. Saute the onion and green pepper until they are tender; add the garlic and jalapeno, and continue to saute for additional 2 to 3 minutes. Optional: Save some freshly chopped onion for garnish. Add the beans (don't drain), tomatoes (don’t drain), chili powder, cumin, thyme, salt, and agave nectar.
Brown the ground turkey in separate skillet; drain and mix into pot with other ingredients. Simmer covered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro (and fresh onion, if desired).
Tweaking your cravings
Every behavior, every decision, every movement in life is triggered by a preceding action or condition. What we choose to eat, for example, is not always triggered by hunger, but by situation. We can choose to alter our social settings, but that is often impractical since family and friends are imperative in our lives. Tweaking your favorite comfort food recipes, though, can make a significant, positive contribution to your overall health.