A Few Thoughts on Comfort Foods and Healthy Living

Without a doubt, there’s nothing more comforting than a nice hot meal on a cold winter’s day. Unfortunately, what many of us consider to be comfort foods aren’t always as healthy as we might assume.

Many comfort foods are high in simple carbohydrates, such as white flour and sugar, instead of healthier complex carbohydrates like whole wheat flour and vegetables. Simple carbohydrates can reduce our serotonin levels and make us tired (and even depressed), which is quite the opposite of what a comfort food should do. In addition, many recipes include ingredients high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, so curbing those is only going to help your waistline and overall healthy.

In the Mountain Man Gourmet family household, we’ve been able to continue eating our favorite comfort foods while still maintaining healthy weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.  With all this in mind, here are a few tips for making our favorite foods just a little healthier:

Macaroni and Cheese, Lasagna, and Other Pastas:

Use whole wheat or zucchini noodles for extra fiber, and explore other “new” types of noodles in your grocer’s gluten-free section.  Some of them are actually pretty tasty.

Add more vegetables and reduce the cheese and meat content.

Fried Chicken:

Instead of frying, try baking your coated chicken (see my recipe for Green Chile Baked Chicken Wings in my book, Go-Go Green Chile Recipes; also, use whole grain bread crumbs and egg whites instead of a whole egg.


Skip the canned varieties that are extremely high in cholesterol and make yours fresh where possible. It’s not as complicated as you might think and it tastes much better. When making your own soup, always skim the fat of your soup stock and use plenty of vegetables. If you don’t have time to make your own stock, choose the low sodium pre-made varieties. And for great tasting, easy to make, all-natural, low-sodium soup mixes, be sure to visit https://mountainmangourmet.com.

Chili and stew: Choose leaner cuts of meat. For example, a turkey chili can be just as hearty and delicious as its ground beef counterpart. Of course, don’t forget to load up your chili with vegetables, such as onion, garlic, tomatoes, green or yellow squash, etc.

When making stew, always cut (most, but not all) fat off the meat before cooking and use wheat flour for thickening your delicious meal. If serving bread, use whole wheat and reduce or limit the butter. Try it, and you’ll see that a warm whole wheat baguette dipped in homemade chili or stew just doesn’t need the extra added fat and cholesterol.

It doesn’t matter what your preferred comfort foods are, you can use these guidelines to prepare many of your favorite meals:

Whole wheat or gluten-free flour can replace white flour (but may be a bit heavy, so try starting with half and half).

Olive oil can replace butter, margarine, and many other oils.

Eggs whites can replace whole eggs.

Skip or reduce the butter on bread and vegetables. Use seasonings instead. For a variety of tasty, all-natural, low-sodium seasonings, dry rubs, and spice blends, see https://mountain-man-gourmet.myshopify.com.

Reduce sugar in pretty much all recipes. Use ingredients like vanilla, cinnamon, sweet dried fruits such as figs or dates, or other extracts to add sweeten your favorite creation.

Choose leaner cuts of meat and cut off most visible fats (leave some for flavor) before cooking. You can also remove skin from chicken, or to retain juiciness remove the skin before eating.

Use skim milk instead of whole milk.

Reduce salt in recipes dramatically—or slowly until you get the hang of it. Most recipes don’t actually need salt, excluding ones that include yeast for leavening.

Cook more of your own meals instead of eating packaged ones—even food that looks homemade, such as most of what you’ll find in your grocer’s deli section, can contain huge amounts of preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings, and excessive amounts of sodium and cholesterol.

And finally, a good rule of thumb to follow is when in doubt, add more vegetables and lean protein, and reduce simple carbs.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean avoiding your favorite comfort foods, but it could mean adjusting things a little. Keep these tips in mind when preparing your next meal, and you’ll be well on your way to following my motto: Live Well, Eat Well, and Be Happy! d l

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