Healthy Comfort Foods
When most people think of comfort foods, they are reminded of foods from their youth—often high in fat, sugar, or salt—not the healthiest. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Comfort and healthy can be combined in the same dish, and be delicious!
One way that I love to increase the nutrients in comfort food is hiding some extra veggies in the dish. This is especially great for kids! My Chick Pea Noodle Soup, for example, is loaded with extra veggies blended right into the broth. Warm and filling—it’s the perfect comfort food on a cold and rainy day.
Using healthy fats is another way to make a dish comforting without sacrificing the health values. I love Dreena Burton’s Mac Oh Geez—a vegan spin on Macaroni and Cheese. All of the creaminess and fat comes from Brazil and cashew nuts, high in Vitamin E and minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc—so much healthier than the saturated fat in cheese. I’ve served this dish to my non vegan family, and they all went in for seconds!
Sugar is my particular weakness, and definitely my go to comfort food—especially in the form of ice cream. I’d read about people using bananas as a substitute for refined sugar in ice cream recipes, but I was a bit hesitant to try it. One night I had a craving for ice cream and was out of sugar, although I had a whole bag of frozen bananas in my freezer.
I got to work in the kitchen and made one of my favorite ice cream recipes yet! It only uses 3 tablespoons of agave in the whole recipe (you could substitute maple for an even more natural sugar, or omit it completely if you want). This ice cream is creamy, fatty, salty and sweet—all of the flavors that are most comforting! And yet, you can still eat it guilt free! Enjoy!
- 1 can full fat coconut milk (I prefer Trader Joes Coconut Cream—in the brown can)
- 2 very ripe bananas (can be frozen, but do not need to be)
- 2 Tbsp agave
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp agave
- ¼ tsp salt
- Blend coconut milk, bananas, 2 T agave, and vanilla in a blender until completely smooth.
- Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to machine directions.
- Meanwhile, mix peanut butter, remaining 1 T agave, and salt together in a small bowl.
- When the ice cream is just about finished, spoon the peanut butter into the ice cream maker and let it swirl around for 1-2 minutes with the ice cream.
- Turn off machine and place ice cream into a freezer safe container. You can serve right away (it will be soft), but I prefer to freeze it for about 3 hours until firmer and then serve.
Sarah De la Cruz lives in the Seattle area with her husband and 3 year old son. She is a busy mom, a former art teacher, and loves to show her creativity in the kitchen. She and her son are vegan, and she makes family-friendly recipes that keeps her whole family—even her non-veg husband—satisfied! She loves seeing the surprise on her friends’ and family’s faces when she tell them that the dish they are enjoying is vegan! Check out more of her recipes at FriedDandelions.com.