Tips to make comfort food – Healthy Dinners

Lasagnes or pastas are easy winter and comfort food but can be full of high fats and heavy if you are not careful in the preparation. This post gives you some great pointers on how to prepare this time honoured favourite healthily, as well as delicious stews and other winter favourites.

There are also some great cooking classes I have on offer at Putia Pure Food Kitchen .

Comfort food is all about meals and ingredients that keep us feeling nurtured, warm and wholesome during those cold days and chilly nights, and these tips are a sure way to keep the winter blues away and still feel like you are staying true to your healthy self.

brasied veal with applescomfort Cooking Dinners

  • Use lasagne sheets layered with roasted vegetables or your favourite meat sauce and top with a mixture of crumbled ricotta, feta and a little parmesan instead of the heavy white sauce. Again, you can mix together lite sour cream or yoghurt and a couple of eggs instead of using the white sauce or cheese. Blend through chopped lightly steamed broccoli and asparagus, flavouring it with lemon zest and basil.
  • For a lighter style of lasagne, you can use crepes, softened rice paper sheets, or thin slices of pumpkin, potato or sweet potato, slightly steamed and then layered in between your meat or vegetables. Homemade tomato sauce is great and you can add in chicken, turkey or lean beef mince for a hearty bolognaise. A great tip is to add in a diced onion, stick of celery and a diced carrot and cook this off first in a little water or oil until softened and starting to caramelise, this gives great flavour to the sauce and bulks it out with vegetables. Add in a little balsamic vinegar and rosemary, thyme and basil to the sauce as you start to cook the vegetables and simmer the sauce for at least 30 minutes.
  • Casseroles, stews and slow cooked meals are ideal for winter and keeping them lite is easy by draining off extra oils that come from browning the meats before adding in the vegetables and stocks. Cooking your onions and meat in a little water instead of the oil helps cut down added fats. Using lots of seasonal winter vegetables also bulks out the dishes giving you great flavour and a healthy main meal. Use different sides instead of mash potato. Try buckwheat, bourghal, wild rice, quinoa and high protein grains.  When slow roasting, add a little water with fresh herbs or a tin of tomatoes for a delicious gravy. Make sure to skim off the oil that will rise and sit on the top.
  • For that bowl of hot chips, slice your potatoes into wedges or chunks and steam or boil until still a little crunchy. Drain and toss with 1 tsp of olive oil and your favourite seasoning. Cook these on baking paper on an oven tray in a hot oven of 220 until golden. Try mixing it up and using sweet potato, parsnip and potato as a combination.
  • Pizzas are so quick to make from scratch. Mix 1 7g sachet of yeast with ½ cup of warm water and place it in your oven set at 30 – 40 c to foam. Pour this into 200g of flour and add in a dessert spoon of olive oil and enough warm water to form a dough. Knead to a smooth ball and cover with a towel allowing it to sit for 20 – 30 minutes to rise. Roll out thinly, preheat your oven as high as it goes and then top the dough with your favourite toppings. Keep them to a minimal 4 and always include 2-3 vegetables. Sprinkle over a little shaved parmesan and cook on a pizza stone or straight onto a preheated baking tray for 10 minutes until crunchy. Top with leaves, rocket or spinach.
  • Use pita bread or flat bread instead of making your own dough.
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