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5 Ways to Make Your Comfort Foods Healthier

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No matter how hard you try, the temptation of cheesy, creamy, sugary and otherwise heavy dishes is sometimes hard to deny. Comfort foods are referred to as such because they're often more than just a savory meal to those enjoying them. They're edible forms of love and security - and it doesn't help that they're usually packed with tasty ingredients that are full of calories and fatty substances. However, comfort food doesn't have to be the enemy. There are many small tweaks that can turn heavy, delectable dishes into lighter meals that aren't terrible on the waistline. Here's how.

"Re-evaluate what you're packing into your casserole."

1. Say No to Cream
Before you load up your Crock-Pot® Manual Slow Cooker with Travel Strap with cups of cream, take a step back and re-evaluate what you're packing into your casserole. Often times, evaporated milk could produce the same taste and consistency as heavy cream. Swapping the two ingredients could make a major difference in calories and fats consumed without sacrificing the taste of your classic Alfredo sauce recipe.

2. Try an Alternative to Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is one of those comfort foods that just never gets old. It's a great dish to serve to picky eaters who need a savory side with their meat, or just people who love cheesy goodness - which is pretty much everyone. Unfortunately, it's typically a high calorie meal that doesn't really encourage a summer body. However, don't ban the dish from warm weather months just yet. Make a few changes to your favorite recipe, and you can enjoy this in moderation the same way you do every other meal. Swap out original pasta with whole grain, opt for low fat cheese and add in healthy ingredients, like chicken or quinoa, to turn this comfort food into a healthy dish.

3. Incorporate Spices
When you start removing some of the high calorie ingredients from your comfort foods, you might notice that the result is a duller taste - and that's understandable. Cheese, cream, sugar and other fatty ingredients are packed with tasty flavors. However, you don't have to force down a bland dish in an effort to be healthy. Replace high calorie substances with spices packed with flavor. Try fresh cracked pepper, tumeric, ginger, paprika and others to add to the taste without doing the same to your waist.

Make tweaks to the meat you use in your favorite dishes.Make tweaks to the meat you use in your favorite dishes.

4. Switch Up the Meat
There's no denying that crispy bacon is tasty. It instantly turns a meal from good to great, and it often makes an appearance in some of your favorite comfort dishes. There's an easy way to swap this out with a healthier alternative: Use turkey bacon. To your taste buds, it's the same thing as bacon, but to your health, it's much different. You can also apply this theory to other dishes, like American chop suey, which calls for ground meat. Prepare the recipe the way you normally would - perhaps with low fat cheese and whole wheat pasta - and just replace the ground beef with ground turkey. 

5. Change Your Oil
Some of the tastiest meals require you to fry your food. While it's well-known that fried foods are unhealthy, there are still ways to make them have less of a negative impact on your health. When frying, swap out vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, which each come along with their own benefits. Also, when a recipe calls for heavy breading, swap out breadcrumbs with oats and fry it lightly. These small changes in the way you fry your food can make a major difference without changing the taste too much.



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