It can be challenging to make healthy choices at the best of times. With all the pressures we face as we live through a pandemic, it can be particularly difficult to eat well, even though we know how important it is to support our immune system right now. It takes time and energy to prep meals and it can be tempting to mask our feelings with the quick grab-and-go of processed junk food. Having said that, there are lots of healthy comfort food recipes you can try out and make in a snap — it’s very doable, even on a gluten-free diet.
Instead of giving up the comfort foods you crave, why not continue to enjoy them — with healthier ingredients that help reduce the amount of unhealthy trans fats, simple carbohydrates, refined sugar, and excess calories? Here are a few ideas for you to experiment with.
Stack your plate with healthy pancakes.
You don’t need flour of any kind for these two-ingredient pancakes! To make them, combine four eggs and two bananas in a blender. Heat olive or coconut oil in a skillet. Pour the batter in small, round spoonfuls. Cook the pancakes for about one minute on each side (add oil to the skillet as needed so the pancakes don’t stick). Stack and serve with butter, ghee, or your favorite fruits.
Swap pizza crust and lasagna noodles for zucchini or eggplant.
Bake your veggies of choice and then simply slice and layer the veggies in a baking dish with your favorite tomato sauce and cheeses. You’ll be surprised at how delicious this dish can be!
Replace high-carb noodles with spaghetti squash or shirataki noodles.
Here’s another comforting meal that’s quick, simple and offers far more nutritional value than traditional pasta. Simply roast spaghetti squash for about 45–50 minutes, remove the seeds, scoop the “noodles” out and add your favorite sauce. Try shirataki noodles which are also delicious when fried in a flavorful stir fry. Low in calories and carbohydrates, they’re made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant. Substitute mashed potatoes and fried rice with cauliflower.
Make a mouthwatering mashed cauliflower dish in minutes.
It’s much better for you with respect to unwanted carbohydrates and calories, not to mention a boost in vitamins. Simply boil and finely chop in your food processor. Mash and cook with roasted garlic, garnish with chives, and serve hot with butter or ghee and a pinch of salt. Chop and sauté your cauli into rice and make a lovely couscous or vegetable fried rice dish.
Swap your sweetener and make a healthy chocolate pudding.
There are many reasons why we should all try to avoid refined sugar. A high sugar intake has been linked to weight gain, and it’s bad for our heart health and overall immune system, to name a few. Dr. William Davis, MD, cardiologist and best-selling author, says the best sweeteners for good health are stevia (liquid or powdered), monk fruit (Lo han guo), erythritol, and xylitol (listed in random order). Go easy on honey and maple syrup, especially if you have blood sugar issues. Make a nutritious, creamy chocolate pudding by blending avocado with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a little milk of your choice, and one of the sugar substitutes mentioned.
Get creative with cookies.
Try different versions of healthful gluten-free oatmeal cookies. If you can tolerate gluten-free oats, take advantage of their nutritional benefits. Oats offer heart-healthy fiber and are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and antioxidant plant compounds. The recipes available could not be easier, and some taste just like chocolate chip banana bread! One easy example is mashing three or four ripe bananas with one cup of gluten-free whole oats, a few handfuls of chocolate chips (try chips sweetened with stevia to eliminate the sugar), and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Scoop onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for about ten minutes.
Learning how to swap comfort foods for healthier gluten-free options can be an adjustment. However, the process can be a surprisingly creative and enjoyable learning experience.