For years, parents have been figuring out ways to sneak nutrition into meals, creating healthy comfort food for a generation of kids who didn’t know their brownies had actually been spiked with veggies.
And that’s a good thing! Food doesn’t have to necessarily taste healthy in order for it to be good for you. From gooey side dishes to decadent desserts, we all have our go-to dishes when we just need a little comfort.
Here are some popular meals that adults and kids agree are delicious — with a few tricks to boost their nutritional content:
We all know there’s nothing better in the world than a pile of velvety-soft mashed potatoes, layered with butter, milk and perhaps, a bit of sour cream. But you don’t have to take out any of your favorite ingredients. Instead, try adding mashed cauliflower to make some healthy comfort food. Cauliflower blends smoothly with the flavor of the potatoes and is loaded with vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.
Lasagna, green beans, cheesy hash brown breakfasts — there are so many delicious casseroles out there! The only problem with them is they tend to be weighed down by a lot of cheese, carbs and fats (of course, that’s what makes them comforting and delish).
But did you know that you can doctor up your casseroles with plenty of healthy ingredients to make them both palatable and healthy? Some examples include using steamed fresh veggies instead of canned, brown rice instead of white, whole-grain pasta and low-fat sour cream or milk.
“A casserole gives you an opportunity to mix a whole bunch of cancer-protective foods in a single dish,” said Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research to WebMD. “It’s a way to combine beans, whole grains and vegetables.”
Ground Flaxseed Meal
An easy way to get a little more fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet is by adding ground flaxseed meal to your food. There are plenty of ways to add a teaspoon here and there — try putting it in your meatloaf, baked goods or oatmeal.
It also tastes great (and by that, we mean undetectable) in an old lunchbox staple, the peanut butter sandwich. Just plop a spoonful in the peanut butter, stir it up … and voila!
There’s many ways to make desserts a little more nutritious without losing the treat factor. Have you ever tried adding pureed carrots and spinach to a brownie mix?
One simple way to add protein to your dessert is to slip in some vanilla or chocolate plant-protein powder. You can add this to a milkshake, pumpkin pie or a batch of cookies for a sweet flavor boost that’s as good for you as it tastes.
We’re always sharing recipes for sweet, nutritious treats. Check out our recipes for Vegan Berry Nice Cream, Angel Food Cake, and Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies at home today!
Remember — watch your serving size, eat a variety of foods and remember that treats, even comfort foods, should be enjoyed and not fully avoided. The key is moderation. Bon appetit!