Comfort Food - we all have ours whether it be popcorn, ice cream, chilli, pasta, pizza and so on! Unfortunately, most of these comfort foods are refined, highly processed and void of any nutrition. Which quite frankly, just isn't good enough for me.
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Eating healthy doesn't mean eliminating all your favourite foods, it just means finding a way to recreate them and make them healthier. If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I LOVE to take old favourites and put a healthy spin on them.
In today's blog we're taking a few more of my favourite comfort foods and I'm going to show you how to up the ante on the health quotient. 2 Recipes in 1 post - just for you!
Mac & cheese is a fan favourite for sure! But between the typical white pasta & non-organic dairy often used this meal is sure to spell BLOATING, GAS & DIGESTIVE DISCOMFORT. Here's my solution!
*This recipe was inspired by The Post Punk Kitchen www.theppk.com. But as per usual, I added a few little tweaks here and there as I so often like to do!
Chipotle Mac & 'Cheese' With Roasted Brussels Sprouts
What you'll need:
8 oz macaroni (gluten-free, kamut, quinoa or spelt)
1 lb brussels, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours (this will help them to blend creamier)
- 1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup veggie broth (I buy organic stock)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F for the brussels, and prepare a pot of salted water for the pasta. In the meantime, prep the brussels and make the sauce.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the quartered brussels sprouts with olive oil and a dash of salt. Bake for 18 minutes, until lightly browned. No need to flip them, just let them roast.
To make the sauce: Drain the cashews and place all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend away until completely smooth. Depending on the strength of your blender this could take from one to five minutes.
When the macaroni is tender, drain it in a colander BUT remember to reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. This will help make the dish especially creamy and velvety - trust me! Immediately toss the pasta back into the same pot with a few good spoonfuls (more/less according to taste) of your sauce & add in the reserved pasta water little by little to reach desired consistency. I usually use almost all of the reserved pasta water especially if I'm using brown rice noodles as they start to stick together rather quickly. Taste for salt, toss in the brussels sprouts and serve!
This dish is literally the most amazing vegan mac & 'cheese' that I've ever tried! No exaggeration! Plus the added roasted brussels sprouts - beyond words! A no-brainer strategy for getting your cruciferous veggies in at least 2 times per week!
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Green Pesto Pizza
C'mon - who doesn't love pizza! There's no side of guilt with this dish, it's all good here!
What you'll need:
- Gluten Free Pizza Crust - you can find GF pizza crusts in the freezer section of your grocery store and certainly at health food stores. Sometimes, I'll even use Brown Rice Wraps in place of GF pizza crusts depending on what I have on hand.
- Dairy - Free Pesto (see recipe below)
- Fresh Arugula
- Steamed Asparagus
- Hemp seeds
- Olive oil
In a blender combine the following:
Generous serving of Basil or Spinach or a combination of both! Really you can use any green here such as kale.
1/4 Cup pine nuts or raw walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1/4 Cup of olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
water as needed to get desired consistency
Directions For The Green Pesto Pizza:
- If you're using GF pizza crusts get them in the oven to crisp up. If you're using wraps - hold off until you have your pesto and asparagus ready.
- Make your dairy-free pesto according to instructions above.
- Wash & cut your asparagus into thirds. Steam your asparagus.
- Once your pizza crusts are ready or you have your brown rice wraps crisped up - take them out of the oven and get them ready for assembly.
- Put a generous amount of pesto on each pizza. Now top with fresh arugula, your steamed asparagus, 1 tbsp of hemp seeds per pizza and drizzle with olive oil. You may wish to use fresh pepper or add a pinch of salt.
Easy Peasy comfort food turned SUPER healthy. This dish is loaded with green goodness. Between the arugula, asparagus and the pesto this meal is packed full of greens! Say hello to phytonutrients! The addition of hemp seeds provides an excellent dose of protein & delivers omega 3s in abundance. There will be no bloated belly after this meal!
Really, there's no need to eliminate your favourite comfort foods - just find ways to make them more nutritious! Look for healthful substitutions when necessary especially if the dish calls for anything refined or processed.