It’s natural to be drawn to comfort foods. They are, well…comforting after all. They provide soothing, stimulating serotonin in the brain that relaxes us. And in these uncertain times when a lot of us are feeling off balance, reaching for the warmth of nostalgia in the form of carbs, fat, sugar and salt feels like the ultimate panacea. But while it might give us a temporary boost, it can also lead to wanting more, and eating these foods regularly can lead to long-term health issues.
Luckily, you have the Yes Health coaches to help health-ify your favorite comfort cravings. So go ahead, light some candles, put on your favorite tunes and serve yourself (and your family) some of these satisfying AND healthy serotonin-boosting delights.
1. Yogurt fruit smoothie. Blend together plain greek yogurt with frozen fruit for a thick, creamy, fro-yo-like treat.
2. Zucchini or eggplant “lasagna.“ Satisfy your cravings with this noodle-less, gooey, low-carb, gluten-free version.
3. Veggie mac and cheese. Swap pasta for cauliflower rice or broccoli rice in your favorite mac and cheese recipe. (You can also add other veggies for color and texture.)
4. Healthy hot chocolate. Coach Eden suggests starting with unsweetened cocoa powder and sweetening it with stevia or honey. Add water or milk–dairy or unsweetened non-dairy, such as coconut or almond milk. Spice things up with cinnamon or a dash of vanilla extract. (Cinnamon provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and may support blood sugar control. It also adds a sweet-spicy flavor sans sugar.)
5. Carrot fries. These are the “new” sweet potato fries that let you feed your french fry craving carblessly.
6. High-protein hummus. Edamame hummus is an excellent source of plant-based protein and makes a terrific dip. Blend 1 cup of edamame beans with 2 cloves of garlic, a handful of parsley, ½ small jalapeño, 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste. Easy!
7. Healthy baking swaps. Coach Becky says swapping half of the original ingredients in baked goods for these replacements is a great way to create a lighter version of your favorite treat: unsweetened applesauce for butter, stevia for sugar, oat or almond flour for all purpose flour. Tip: Make your own budget-friendly oat flour by grinding it at home with a blender.
8. Homemade chia seed jam. All you need are berries (fresh or frozen), chia seeds, honey and lemon. Swap mayo or sour cream for plain greek yogurt or avocado.
9. Spaghetti (squash). Roast a spaghetti squash and top with sugar-free tomato sauce or pesto (store bought or make your own) for a delish, nutrient-dense, low-carb experience.
10. Bell pepper nachos. Use veggies (bell peppers are a great option) in place of tortilla chips to make nachos more nutrient dense while limiting the cheese.
11. Sweet potato crust quiche. Swap your quiche pie crust with sweet potato. Coach Anne says you can even use zucchini!
12. Creamy cinnamon hot cereal. Choose your favorite cooked cereal and add cinnamon, ground nuts and creamy Greek yogurt with berries for a blend of soothing flavors, textures and aromas.
13. Cocoa dusted almonds. This DIY easy and balanced treat can calm your chocolate cravings and deliver a solid dose of protein too. (Opt for your favorite kind of nuts if almonds aren’t your thing.)
14. Comfort snack plate. Combine small amounts of some of your favorite fun foods so you can treat yourself without overeating. Here are some ideas: popcorn, stuffed olives, pickled vegetables, berries, 1 oz cheese, tamari almonds, lean ham, a small piece of chocolate.