We know how hard it is to give up your favorite comfort foods like a juicy beef burger or pepperoni pizza in order to eat as healthfully as possible. But embedded within the Clean Plates philosophy is that you definitely can have your organic carrot cake and eat it, too. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and we want to make sure you don’t deprive yourself on your journey to optimal health. So instead of cutting out these foods altogether, simply make them with better-for-you ingredients.
To help you, starting today and for the next three weeks, we will be showcasing healthier versions of some classic comfort food dishes. Come back each week to get more recipes and let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter which of your favorites you would like us to make over. After all, what’s life without an occasional bowl of mac and cheese?
Well-Crafted Mac & Cheese
The creamy goodness of mac and cheese is beloved by all. But not so beloved is the high sodium (nearly a day’s worth) carbs, saturated fat and calories. In our healthier version, cashews blend into a wonderful creamy texture that can rival any dairy-based version. This vegan cheesy-tasting Well-Crafted Mac & Cheese Sauce is fortified with oat flour and gets a kick from paprika and powdered mustard.
Braised Baby Artichoke Flatbread Pizza
Pizza is high on most of our lists for favorite comfort foods. It’s also high in carbs, saturated fats and sodium, to say nothing of the additives and preservatives found in some store-bought varieties. Making it from scratch is always a healthier option. Mark Bittman’s Garlic Herb Flatbread is easy to make and can be topped with anything, such as delicious Braised Baby Artichokes. It also has about a fifth the calories, carbs and sodium of a traditional pizza. Double the batch and freeze some dough so whenever you have a hankering you can quickly defrost it and top it with anything in your fridge, from pesto and eggplant, tuna and capers or figs, caramelized onions, and ricotta.
Black Bean Burger
A single-patty cheeseburger can range from 400 to 700 calories and have more sodium and saturated fat than you’re supposed to eat in an entire day. A satisfying and meaty alternative is a Black Bean Burger, one that carnivores will love. This version is also an easy way to get your daily protein and fiber: One cup of beans has 15 grams of fiber and 39 grams of protein, giving you about a third of your daily fiber needs and almost all your protein.
Garlic Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes
While yummy, traditional mashed potatoes have a high glycemic index, causing blood sugar to spike and then crash, but mashed butternut squash is an equally yummy and nutritious alternative. Its texture is very similar to mashed potatoes, but it’s low in calories, and has almost half the carbs of mashed potatoes. It’s also loaded with vitamin A, potassium and fiber so pile your plate up with some Garlic Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes.