Craving your favourite comfort food? Ease your guilt with these simple swaps from nutritionist Rob Hobson, designed to make ‘unhealthy meals’ more nutritious, while still being delicious!
Fish and chips
This dish is notoriously high in saturated fat and calories. Too much saturated fat in the diet can increase your levels of cholesterol which is not good for the health of your heart.
You can make this classic comfort food dish healthier by creating a tasty crumb topping with breadcrumbs and herbs, before roasting it in the oven.
In place of chips, why not try oven roasting some sweet potato wedges, which can be seasoned with spices like smoked paprika.
Oven-baking avoids frying, making the dish it lower in saturated fat and calories – good for your heart and your waistline!
Full English breakfast
This is a popular breakfast for those with a hangover or that just need a bit of a ‘food hug’. However, dining out on sausages, bacon, fried bread and black pudding is definitely not healthy. However, there are a few simple swaps which can vastly improve the nutrition profile.
For starters, simply grilling or poaching all of the components rather than frying will make a big difference.
Try to include more vegetables, such as grilled mushrooms, tomatoes even sliced avocado. You could also consider swapping out some of the meat for a plant-based option such as veggie sausages.
Including more vegetables in your diet can make a big difference to your overall health: the addition of mushrooms, tomatoes and avocado provide fibre, healthy fats and minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Magnesium is particularly good for mental health as it binds to GABA receptors in the brain, helping to quell the overactivity associated with anxiety.
Apple pie and custard
This is a classic comfort dish that many of us associate with our childhood. However, the dessert can be seriously loaded with fat and sugar. Luckily, with a few small tweaks, this dish can easily become a nutritious treat!
Firstly, when making the apple mixture, try to reduce the amount of sugar you use. Also, make sure there’s plenty of apple in the mixture, to ensure you’re getting one of your five-a-day – you could even add in other fruits, like raspberries or blueberries!
Next, consider swapping the pastry for a crumble: you can make a really tasty and healthy topping using nuts, seeds and oats, which all provide a good source of fibre.
Plus, oats have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, thanks to the beta-glucans they contain. Instead of serving this with sugary custard, try topping with low-fat Greek yoghurt flavoured with vanilla.
Burger and chips
Nothing screams comfort food like burger and fries. While a lean burger may not be that bad, once you add the bun, sauces, cheese, bacon and whatever other fillings you enjoy, things start to get a little scary on the nutrition front.
Try to choose the best quality burger you can find, or alternatively, switch to a grilled chicken breast or plant-based option, to keep the saturated fat levels down.
You could also try serving the burger on just one half of the bun (or no bun!), and sticking to vegetable-based dressings and toppings, over creamy or cheesy ones. Why not try a spicy tomato salsa, guacamole or chilli sauce?
Instead of fries, you could try oven-baked sweet potato wedges, flavoured with spices such as smoked paprika or cayenne pepper. This healthy version of the dish is lower in calories and saturated fat.
Plus, the addition of sweet potato introduces more antioxidant nutrients into your diet, such as beta carotene. This can help to reduce inflammation in the body!