Spin on the classics

I love comfort food. There is just something about spending some time in the kitchen cooking up a delicious homemade comfort food that makes me happy. The only thing I hate about comfort food is the way my body feels after eating it. My comfort food in mostly carbohydrate based so I challenged myself to make changes to four recipes to make them less-carb filled but with the same amount of comfort!

Mac and Cheese

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My Mom made the best mac and cheese. When I was younger it was the dish I always wanted when I needed some comfort food. But the worst part in mac and cheese are the noodles. There are 221 calories in one cup of noodles but one cup of butternut squash only has 63! So to switch up this recipe I swapped noodles for diced butternut squash.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, diced or made into noodles if you have a spiral slicer like this one

1 cup of kale, chiffonade

8 oz of cheddar cheese (I used Flagship), shredded

1/4 cup milk (I used whipping cream because fat is my friend not my foe)

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

dash of cayenne

5 slices of bacon

Directions

Set oven to 370 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half and remove the seeds then slice off skins and largely dice the remaining squash. Place squash on cookie sheet and cover with coconut oil or any oil of choice (but you better not be using that vegetable or canola oil in this delicious meal and here’s why). Bake these until soft but not squishy! We want them to resemble noodles not mush.

If you have a spiral slicer then spiral out your butternut squash into noodles. Throw them into a pot of boiling water and let them cook until they are al dente.

While the squash is cooking, fry up your bacon in a skillet until it is crunchy! Then wait for it to cool and chop into large chunks.

Once your squash is done, place cheese and cream into a pot and turn on medium-low. Let the cheese slowly melt while constantly stirring it. When cheese is melted mix in paprika, squash and kale. The kale adds a little nutrients to this meal as well as more noodle like texture and with that much cheese you can hardly taste any vegetable!

Finally, scoop out some mac and cheese into a bowl, top with bacon and add a dash of cayenne pepper on top!

Shepherd’s Pie

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Growing up potatoes were my favorite food. If I could eat just mashed potatoes for dinner I would have been the happiest child in the world but obviously my parents wouldn’t let me so we compromised. Shepherds pie was an easy way for my parents to hide some protein and vegetables under a huge dollop of delicious creamy mashed potatoes! But as we saw in my Healthy Low Carb Swaps post, potatoes have about 5x more grams of carbohydrates than cauliflower does. So for this swap all I did was nix the potatoes and add mashed cauliflower!

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

2 T cream

1 pound of beef

1/2 pound chorizo or italian sausage

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup peas

1 cup spinach, chiffonade

4 oz mushrooms, diced

1 cup red wine

1 cup chicken stock

1-2 T arrowroot powder

6 T butter

1 T garlic

*Optional:

1 beef/lamb liver, chopped (this meal has so many flavors and meats already incorporated it is easy to hide this amazing superfood!)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Roughly chop cauliflower and place in bowling water until soft. Strain and place into food processor with 3 T of butter, 2 T cream and a splash of the water used to bowl the cauliflower. Mix until it resembles mashed potatoes. Set aside.

 

Melt butter in large pot on medium-low then add in garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft then mix in tomato paste and stir for about two minutes. Add chorizo and beef and crank up the heat to medium high to brown the meat. I added chorizo because I like the spices in it better than the traditional rosemary and thyme.

Once meat is browned add in wine and chicken stock. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Then add in arrowroot powder which will thicken up your liquids. Mix in 1 tablespoon and wait if that isn’t enough add another. Adding too much arrowroot powder will make your shepherds pie have a gummy goo texture instead of a gravy feel so be careful.

Turn off heat mix in vegetables and salt/pepper to taste. Poor mixture into a casserole dish then top with mashed cauliflower. If you want you can sprinkle on some cheese or paprika. Then place in oven for 30-40 minutes of until the top is brown.

Chicken Tenders

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Who doesn’t love some crispy chicken tenders with crazy good dipping sauce?? Sometimes I catch myself dreaming of McDonalds nuggets and ranch sauce but then I remember how many ingredients are actually in those (38 according to the McDonalds website) and how that chicken doesn’t even really look like chicken anymore! So my fancy hack for this one was to get that crispy texture of the McDonalds nuggets without gluten and add something with some good nutrients in. I swapped out breading for Trader Joe’s plantain chips and added in spinach to get some of our favorite dark green vegetable!

Ingredients

1 pound chicken breast

3/4 cup shredded plantain chips

1/2 cup spinach

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/2 cup cream

zest of lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice up chicken into nugget sized chunks. Try to make them all about the same size so they cook at the same speed. Place chicken into a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of cream. Put to the side.

Take plantain chips and run through food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Then add in lemon zest, spinach and parmesan and mix until everything is about uniform in size and looks like green breadcrumbs.

Take each nugget of chicken and let excess cream drip off then fully coat in spinach, plantain and cheese mix. Place all nuggets onto a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Grease your aluminum foil with a little coconut butter before cooking so the nuggets don’t stick.

Bake chicken nuggets for about 20 minutes. The mixture should be crunchy and the inside no longer pink. Then serve up with some awesome sauce!

Pizza!

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I think everyone can agree pizza is a comfort food. Warm doughy crust, zesty tomato sauce, gooey cheese, spicy meat and crunchy veggies on top! Writing that made my mouth water. This one took me awhile to figure out. I have tried many gluten free pizza recipes and have always been very disappointed with the results so I went a different direction this time. I pulled out my favorite vegetable, cauliflower. Low carb and with a mild flavor can be molded into just about anything you want.

Ingredients

Half head of cauliflower

1/2 cup cheese of choice (I used Flagship but you could use parmesan, mozzarella or a combination of all three) , shredded

1 t garlic

1/4 t oregano

1/4 t basil

1/4 t red pepper flakes

1 egg

1 T coconut flour

Your favorite pizza toppings

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place half head of cauliflower florets into food processor and chop until it resembles wet rice. Place cauliflower in paper towel and squeeze out excess water.

Then mix in all other ingredients except for toppings. This should give you a thick mush but don’t except it to be the consistency of regular dough.

Oil up your aluminum foiled cookie sheet again and make two small pizzas (I did it this way to regulate the cooking of the crust easier but it would work as one large pizza just decrease the heat and increase baking time).  Keep pizzas thick and make sure you have a bit of a “crust” around the edges to keep in toppings.

Spread some olive oil on the top of the crust and cook for about 10 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Top with your favorite toppings and place back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings are warm.

 

Next time you are in the mood for some comfort food try swapping out something that is high in carbohydrates for a vegetable based carb like squash or cauliflower or adding in some dark green veggies to give it a nutrient kick! If you come up with a good swapped comfort food post it below I would love to try it!