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There’s a reason all of our favorite comfort foods tend to be kid’s snacks: We were, well, comfortable when we were kids! We didn’t worry about cholesterol, calories, blood sugar, waist sizes, metabolism and the like. We wore superhero pajamas to school for goodness sake. We didn’t give a *&^#& and man was that a happy time. Eating starchy, cheesy, childhood foods not only fills us up with indigestion; it fills us up with a feeling of peace, and calm and self-love (well, before the self-hatred kicks in over the stack of peanut butter and chocolate you just ate). There’s good news; you can skip the self-hate part if you just make these childhood nostalgia foods in these healthy ways.
Stick to poultry dogs because they have far less saturated fat. You won’t even notice it’s not pork by the time you top it with these healthy toppers. Try sauerkraut (less sodium and sugar than relish), brown or grainy mustard (better than the chemicals in the yellow variety), and pickled red peppers (give you a little spice, and the sweetness of ketchup without the sugar). Now put it in a whole wheat bun and skip the refined sugar of the white one.
Whatever your usual recipe for chicken fingers would be, use whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs in place of white ones. This will cut a lot of calories. Instead of deep frying them in vegetable oil, you’ll coat them in heart-healthy olive oil or coconut oil and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for 22 minutes.
Recapturing that SpaghettiO flavor is tricky, but not impossible. Simplefood365.com
has a great recipe that cuts out all of the sugar and salt of the original recipe and swaps in the perfect combination of spices and herbs. They taste almost like the real thing but are so much healthier.
Mac n cheese
Start with brown rice macaroni–its higher fiber content won’t turn the pasta immediately into sugar. Next, take two-thirds of the white cheese you would usually use, and replace with one third well-blended avocado and one-third Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has far less fat than cheese, and avocado adds fiber and healthy fats while maintaining a creamy texture.
First, go with whole grain bread. Next, instead of slathering the to-be-grilled sides of the bread with butter, brush them with olive oil. Next, replace half the cheese inside with flavorful add-ons like caramelized onions, avocado slices, fig jam, turkey bacon–anything you can think of that isn’t cheese!
Aaah. Remember eating peanut butter, banana and fluffernutter sandwiches? Just that third ingredient was unhealthy. But now, it can be healthy. There’s a two-ingredient, vegan recipe for marshmallow fluff on Chocolatecoveredkatie.com
that will do the trick.
There were dozens of lunchables, but by far one of the most popular was the pizza box. Make your own pizza lunchables with mini whole wheat tortillas for the crusts, homemade pizza sauce made from tomato puree, oregano and a hint of salt, and low-fat mozzarella shreds.
Spaghetti and meatballs
Swap out white spaghetti for brown rice spaghetti. Don’t use store-bought tomato sauce because it’s loaded with sugar; make your own with canned tomato sauce, oregano, crushed garlic, salt, and pepper. Now make your meatballs with ground turkey instead of beef.
Chicken, peas and rice
So simple but so good. This dish, luckily, doesn’t require a whole lot of swap-outs, except for the butter and cream. Using boneless, white chicken breast, soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil and brown rice you can recapture this nourishing meal.
When I was a kid, my friends and I demanded these by name! The secret to making these healthy is changing the flour, moistening with yogurt, and filling them with the vegan marshmallow fluff from before. Get the recipe here.
Start with a white fish that isn’t too fatty, like cod. Switch to panko bread crumbs for the crispy, crunchy coating. Finally, a special mixture of Dijon mustard, paprika, lemon and some other treats laid out on Skinnytaste.com
will get you a healthy version of this old favorite.
This was always an adventurous detour from a regular soda or juice, and you can make it without all the syrup and the soda. Mix 4 cups of pomegranate juice, 1/2 a cup of cherry juice and one cup of sugar in a saucepan, and let simmer until the syrup thickens. Once it’s cooled, just mix it in with club soda. You won’t know the difference.
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Considering that some milkshakes contain all of your allotted calories for the day, it’s amazing we drank so many as kids! If you swap out original, unsweetened almond milk for regular milk, and use coconut ice cream instead of regular ice cream, you can cut your calories by 50 to 70 percent.
The popsicles you had as kids were refreshing at first, but left you thirsty from all of the sugar. The possibilities for healthy popsicles that consist of no more than fruit and water, are endless. But Buzzfeed
has a pretty inspiring list.
Ice cream sundae
The fun part of ice cream sundaes was that you could customize them, so use that to your advantage today to make them healthy! Make a vegan chocolate sauce using one tablespoon melted coconut oil, one tablespoon cacao powder, and 1 teaspoon of agave syrup. Add heart-healthy almonds or walnuts instead of sugary granola. Get your bananas in there and any berries you want.