Healthy Ways to Indulge in Fall Comfort Foods
BY AHNA KENNEDY
As sweater weather sets in, so does the desire for comfort food. And while it might feel great at the time, indulging in a plethora of rich, decadent foods can often leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, and not exactly your best self. While it may be hard to believe, there are loads of easy-to-swap substitutions that will allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes without guilt! It just takes an open mind and willingness to make some subtle swaps on your grocery list.
Here are 4 healthy ingredient swaps your body will thank you for:
Swap #1: Refined Sugar
Most of us look forward to consuming more sweets and baked goods this time of year, myself included! The key is to stick with natural sugars and those found in fruits and vegetables. The following are my favorite refined-sugar-alternatives:
- Maple syrup or maple sugar – high in health benefits and good in baked goods, sauces, and dressings. Maple sugar can be used 1:1 in place of white sugar.
- Dates and date sugar – dates are rich in minerals and can be used to make a variety of delicious baked and raw desserts.
- Raw honey – great for beverages, as a glaze, and in baking.
Swap #2: Whole Wheat Flour
Whether you are particularly sensitive to gluten or not, it’s healthier and easier for your digestion to opt for a gluten-free option. Be aware that not all GF mixes are created equal, so it’s imperative to read the labels. You want to look for organic, GMO-free, additive-free, etc to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck.
Some of my favorite flours include:
- Almond flour – helpful for baking, bread making, etc
- Buckwheat -delicious in pancakes, waffles, and crepes.
- Chickpea flour – good option gluten-free savory crepes, tortillas, and flatbreads.
- Oat flour – great for baking, thickening, and binding ingredients together.
Swap #3: Unhealthy Fats
Not only does it make food taste good, but getting enough healthy fats is essential for brain development, strong immunity, and healthy digestion. One of the best ways to make your comfort foods healthier is to swap out your typical refined, vegetable and seed oils like Canola, Sunflower, Safflower, and Grapeseed for organic, cleaner, healthier fats like these:
- Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil – best consumed raw, and in soups and dressings.
- Hemp oil – delicious in salads, sauces, soups, and smoothies.
- Virgin unrefined coconut oil – perfect for baking and sauteing.
- Sesame oil – good for salads, dressings, and even sweets.
Swap #4: Pasta
Pasta is a staple in most households, especially during the fall and winter months. The problem is that oftentimes they lack any nutritional value and are loaded with high levels of additives, gluten, and refined wheat. Luckily, the is a plethora of delicious and nutrient-dense alternatives available, including:
- Lentil pasta (GF)
- Rice/Quinoa pasta (GF)
- Chickpea pasta (GF)
- Kelp noodles (GF + Grain Free)
- Rice/Millet ramen (GF)
- 100% Buckwheat soba noodles (GF)
- Zucchini Noodles are delish too!
Feel good this Fall with these swaps– enjoy!
Craving a Fall soup? Check out our favorite recipes here!