Healthy eating and comfort foods can be the perfect recipe pair

Healthy zucchini lasagna bolognese in a baking dish. Photo provided by Atkins
Healthy zucchini lasagna bolognese in a baking dish. Photo provided by Atkins /

While many people are craving comfort foods, healthy eating does not have to be compromised. With smart swaps, the perfect meal pair is achievable.

During trying times, many people turn to food. While comfort foods can be a bowl full of deliciousness, many people do not want to derail their healthy eating habits. Finding the right balance between smart choices and favorite flavors is key.

Even as more people discover the joy of cooking, home cooks can benefit from a few tips and tricks in the kitchen. With a myriad of searchable recipes, the possibilities can be overwhelming. Add to that scenario the desire to eat well or to eat healthy, it could make anyone place a takeout order.

As the Quarantine 15 looms, that uptick on the scale doesn’t have to become a reality. Even if a person is craving that big bowl of mac and cheese, a few swaps can make that decadent meal a little more reasonable. After all, life is about balance.

Recently, FoodSided chatted with Colette Heimowitz, VP of Nutrition, Research and Education at Atkins. Heimowitz graciously shared some insight on healthy eating swaps, smart indulgences and even a favorite recipe.

Thinking specifically, about the Quarantine 15, we asked Heimowitz about making better choices. While stress eating can happen, there are some choices that offers a good balance.

Heimowitz said, “While we all find comfort in food, there are still delicious options to eat while in quarantine that’ll satisfy you, and are guilt free. I always keep snacks that are a good balance of high-fiber carbs, optimal protein and healthy fats (think: nuts, sweet peppers and cucumbers with hummus and full-fat Greek Yogurt with low glycemic berries). I also enjoy Atkins Endulge Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Patties – they satisfy my sweet tooth without spiking my blood sugar.”

Even though those cravings get satisfied, many people are wanting more comfort foods. Thinking about that idea, people are craving certain flavors. In some recipes, there are swaps that can mimic the flavors, yet not derail certain eating plans.

healthy eating, comfort foods
Spicy Breaded Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Sauce. Photo provided by Atkins /

Heimowitz said, “Some of my favorite comfort food swaps include swapping out thinly sliced zucchini in place of pasta in lasagna, or using an air fryer and making buffalo cauliflower that tastes just like hot wings, and is way lower in carbs. The Atkins website has tons of simple swaps and recipes that are all completely free to access.”

As trips to the grocery stores are less frequent and home cooks are looking to the pantry for more recipe inspiration, those shelves need to have many options. Sometimes, classic pantry staples can offer the flavor to give any recipe a boost.

While everyone has certain pantry staple favorites, Heimowitz said that “Some of the best pantry staples to keep on-hand are chicken/vegetable broth, herbs and spices, canned low carb vegetables, pasta sauce without any added sugar, and pesto or other vegetable-based sauces. These ingredients are all easy to whip up delicious meals with and are great to incorporate into your favorite recipes.”

Even with ingredient swaps and smart choices, portion size is key. The old understanding of calories in versus calories out still applies. Choosing the right portion size is key to any healthy eating lifestyle choice.

Heimowitz said, “It’s all about what is on your plate – ensuring you are eating optimal protein, high-fiber carbs and healthy fats to keep you satiated and satisfied. Eating low carb doesn’t mean sacrificing delicious foods – it’s all about simple swaps and selecting better-for-you foods.”

With more people discovering cooking at home, a tasty, easy recipe is always a good choice. One of Heimowitz’s favorite recipes is Chicken and Green Chili Tots.

She said, “the Chicken and Green Chili Tots is a comfort food go-to for me. I love this recipe because it is so easy to make and it uses one of my favorite kitchen items – an air fryer. With the combination of cauliflower, chicken and cheddar cheese, it offers a balance of high-fiber carbs, optimal protein and healthy fats to keep your entire family satiated. It has only 0.7 grams of net carbs, so it’s a great option for those living a low carb lifestyle who are looking for low carb swaps to high-carb faves.”

FoodSided would like to thank Colette Heimowitz for speaking with us and sharing her healthy eating suggestions.

Remember, life is about balance. The food on the table brings people together. Whether it is favorite comfort foods, grandma’s family roast dinner or just a takeout meal from your favorite local restaurant, the conservation around the food is just as nourishing as the food on the plate.

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What are some of your ways that balance healthy eating and comfort foods? What simple swaps can you share with #FoodSided?