Even if you are incredibly health conscious, you can't help but get sucked into the rush of cravings for Fall comfort food. Unfortunately, typical Western comfort food is often heavy with dairy, meat, and sugar. For those of us who a) have sensitivities or allergies to any or all of those items, b) ascribe to a vegan or vegetarian diet, or c) are looking to eat more consciously by eating less animal products, those ingredients are not an option.
A great part about cooking for yourself at home is that no one can tell you that making substitutions in a recipe to fit your diet is wrong. So instead of staring longingly at pictures of mac n' cheese while you eat a salad, make a grocery list and challenge yourself to learn some new twists on comfort food. If you have an old favourite recipe that could use a healthy face lift, scan a few vegan versions on a food blog and get some ideas for substitutions. Or just search out a whole new one! Here are a few ideas and recipes that will hopefully hit the spot:
Pumpkin Soup – On a chilly day, hot soup is like a warm hug for your insides. It is also an easy way to get a lot of nutrients into a simple to make dish. Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, so weather you pick one up at the grocery store or head to a patch to pick your own, a thick squash soup will be a luxurious treat. The Minimalist Baker offers a rich vegan option, complete with kale garnish to impress your guests.
Reclaim Your Potatoes - Even though potatoes have a lot of great nutrients packed into them, they get a bad rap because people often eat them deep fried, covered in cheese, or mashed with tons of butter and cream. They are actually a good source of vitamin B6 and potassium. So reclaim your love of potatoes and allow yourself a few fat-free taters on the side of your meal. Oh She Glows, one of our favourite food blogs, has a yummy and creative way to serve Smashed Potatoes with a creamy avocado aioli (who needs sour cream, right?).
Mashed Cauliflower – If potatoes still aren't your thing, you need to get on board with Cauliflower. It is a surprisingly similar texture to potatoes when mashed, and can even be used as a substitute for cream in things like alfredo sauce. Whole Foods shows you how to start with the basics, and from there you can add any of your favourite additions, like green onions, garlic, or even a little nutritional yeast for a slight cheesy flavour. The Naam in Vancouver makes a pretty mean Miso gravy that would compliment this dish. They don't give out the recipe, but this one is close!
Substitute Ground Tofu in Chili – Vegetarian chili recipes that don't have an additional protein are still great, but if you already have a favourite recipe that just wouldn't be the same without the bulk of ground meat, try ground tofu instead. You will still get a good dose of protein without the cholesterol content. Most grocery stores stock at least one brand in their vegan foods section and we are willing to bet that most people can't even tell the difference!
Roasted Vegetables – Roast veggies is one comfort food craving you don't have to feel guilty about. Unfortunately, their health benefits can often be negated by recipes that use a ton of butter to cook them and they are often served only as a side. Ratatouille is a tomato based dish usually made with eggplant and zucchini that packs a lot of flavour and can easily be used as a main dish. This vegan recipe shows you an easy way to arrange your veggies to make it look like it came from a Pinterest photo.
Hot Cocoa – It's dessert you can drink, who wouldn't crave it on a cold day? You can make cocoa with just water, but you lose a lot of the richness. Subbing in your favourite non-dairy milk can add a little thickness and enhance the flavour. This vegan option uses almond milk, but that doesn't mean you have to. Play around with sugar content and extracts too. If you are a big mint chocolate fan, sub in peppermint extract instead of vanilla. Be playful until you have the perfect beverage to warm you to the toes.
The point of these recipes is to make you feel cozy and comfortable. At Thrive, we are all about making garments that make you feel the same. Come into the store to create a stylish cooking outfit made of soft organic cotton or silky bamboo. Don't worry, we have aprons and printed dishtowels to keep it splatter-free!