The first signs of fall have never impressed me as I morn the end of summer. But once I realize there is no turning back and I begin to embrace the cosiness that chilly weather brings I get excited. This weekend, I brought out my little dipper crockpot and added some mixed spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, with some hot water, and let it sit on the counter plugged in for the afternoon. It filled the house with delicious smells and thoughts of Christmas.
Fall also brings the craving of comfort foods. Traditionally, comfort foods meant high fat and gooey warm goodness, which can sabotage ones effort to eat healthy. However, I have chosen five comfort food dishes and have made a healthier version of them to make them more nutrient dense and well balanced, perfect for any family wanting to build health. I hope you enjoy!
This is an all-time favorite with ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese, but it may not be the healthiest dish as is. However, by making a few changes you can turn Shepard’s Pie into a delicious meal with loads of nutrients. Swap some or all of the white potatoes for sweet potatoes, or mix steamed cauliflower or parsnips in with the potatoes. Then, make sure you have a layer of cut up veggies like steamed carrots, zuchinni, broccoli, tomatoes, anything goes! Grate a bit of cheese on the top and enjoy!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
What kid doesn’t enjoy spaghetti and meatballs? It is comforting and delicious. However, with rushed schedules, it is too easy to grab a premade bag of processed meatballs and add to a bottle of sauce. Set aside a bit of time to prepare a large batch yourself of both the sauce and the meatballs, so you have enough in the freezer for another meal. You can throw all kinds of veggies in the sauce. Also, instead of using the classic pasta, take the healthier route and opt for whole-wheat pasta or spaghetti squash as an alternative. When making the meatballs, try turkey as a substitution for ground beef. By making them yourself, you are setting a great example to your kids and avoiding any added preservatives, sugar, and sodium, all while getting a lot more nutrients in the dish!
This one I have not tried because I have a child who is allergic to beans, but I think it is a genious idea and one I wanted to include! Rather than just eat a big plate of classic mashed potatoes (loads of carbs), substituting mashed steamed cauliflower with mashed cannellini beans gives you protein, antioxidants, and less carbs. Apparently it has the same texture as classic mashed potatoes, but is a far healthier alternative!
I know it is easy and economical to pick up a Rotisserie Chicken at the last minute, but they are often dripping in excess fat and filled with preservatives. With a crockpot or oven and a bit of planning, it is just as easy to make your own perfect bird at home with lots of veggies and less added fat. Roast your own bird with sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, rosemary, peppers, squash and lemon and even serve a salad on the side. Or, throw a chicken with veggies in the crockpot before leaving for work and come home to a delicious home cooked meal!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
I never buy cookies but like to have them as a treat so we cook them ourselves, and make a few adjustments to the traditional recipe. We add pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for healthy fat and protein, substitute half or all coconut oil for the butter, and use half the sugar called for. They are free of preservatives and delicious this way. At first you may not find them as sweet as you’re used to, but trust me, your taste buds do adjust! You can even take them up a notch from these changes and add cooked quinoa, ground flaxseed, and banana, as well as opt for dark chocolate chips. The quinoa adds a dose of protein and banana gives the cookies sweetness without much added sugar.
Cooking should be something that is adventurous and fun where you leave the rules behind. Let yourself and your kids explore in the kitchen. I believe that recipes are there to guide us and they are meant to be tampered with!
Have fun cooking and share with me some of your favorite family recipes that you have adapted to make into healthier versions.
Connect with Lisa George, Registered Holistic Nutritionist – and take that first step to a healthier you! Contact 613-256-0506 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org