September is here, which means the Fall season is here, which also means layers, comfort, and staying snug.
School is also back, so if you're a student, free time is rare. If you're a working professional, time is limited in the evenings for you to cook, clean, run errands, and do all the necessary adult things you're obligated to do.
So, we're giving you 4 easy but healthy comfort food recipes that you can cook anytime to fill you up and make you feel happy without the guilt! (some may be included)
1. Oven-Fried Chicken
Recipe from Delish.
Want fried chicken without that guilty after-feeling? Go with this oven-baked recipe to satisfy your cravings. Light on the carbohydrates, but tons of protein to help you with the weight loss, especially after a great workout.
FOR THE CHICKEN
- 2 c. panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 c. buttermilk
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE
- 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. barbecue sauce
- 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. honey
- Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs and garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
- Pat thighs dry, then dip into egg mixture, then dredge in panko, making sure all sides are completely coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden and crispy, and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 180°, about 1 hour.
- Make dipping sauce: In a large bowl, whisk together Dijon, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, and honey.
- Serve chicken with dipping sauce.
2. Extra Vegetable Fried Rice
Recipe from Cookie + Kate.
Here's an interesting take on fried rice without the grease!
If you've been trying to burn fat, but want a cheat meal and get away from your fitness routine, this is a nutritious but healthy alternative. Not to mention it tastes amazing!
- 1 ½ teaspoons + 2 tablespoons avocado oil or safflower oil, divided
- 2 eggs, whisked together
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 cups additional veggies, cut into very small pieces for quick cooking (see photos for size reference; options include snow peas, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper, and/or fresh or frozen peas—no need to thaw first)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon grated or finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 cups cooked brown rice (*see notes!)
- 1 cup greens (optional), such as spinach, baby kale or tatsoi
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce**
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Chili-garlic sauce or sriracha, for serving (optional)
- Start over medium-high heat, but if at any point you catch a whiff of oil or food burning, reduce the heat to medium.
- Warm a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until a few drops of water evaporate within a couple of seconds. Immediately add 1 ½ teaspoons of oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Add the scrambled eggs and swirl the pan so they cover the bottom. Cook until they are just lightly set, flipping or stirring along the way. Transfer the eggs to a bowl and wipe out the pan with a heat-proof spatula.
- Return the pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining veggies and salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally (don’t stir too often, or the veggies won’t have a chance to turn golden on the edges), until the veggies are cooked through and turning golden, about 3 to 5 more minutes. In the meantime, use the edge of your spatula or a spoon to break up the scrambled eggs into smaller pieces.
- Use a big spatula or spoon to transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl with the cooked eggs. Return the pan to heat and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and mix it all together. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot and starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the greens (if using) and green onions, and stir to combine. Add the cooked veggies and eggs and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tamari and sesame oil. Taste, and add a little more tamari if you’d like more soy flavour (don’t overdo it or it will drown out the other flavours) or salt, if the dish needs an extra boost of overall flavour.
- Divide into bowls and serve immediately. I usually serve mine with chili-garlic sauce or sriracha on the side. Leftovers store well in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 4 days (if you used purple cabbage, it might stain your scrambled eggs a funny blue colour, but it’s fine to eat).
3. Healthy Weeknight Spaghetti Bolognese
Recipe from Apple of my Eye.
Need something quick but delicious to fill your tummy up after a long day? This healthy version of Spaghetti Bolognese is a great weeknight dinner to take a break from the diet without having to go high on the calorie counter.
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups diced bell pepper
- 1½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cups diced mushrooms
- ¾ lb lean ground beef (I used 96% lean, but any meat will work)
- 24 oz (one big jar) marinara sauce
- 1 lb dried spaghetti noodles
- fresh basil
- parmesan for serving
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the diced bell peppers, onion, and mushrooms. Cook until soft, then add in the ground beef, breaking it up into smaller pieces and cooking till no longer pink. Season the mixture with garlic salt, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Add in the marina sauce and bring to a soft boil. Let cook for 10 minutes.
- While the bolognese sauce mixture is cooking, boil the noodles until al dente.
- Top the noodles with the bolognese sauce and serve with fresh basil and parmesan. Enjoy!
4. Kale Pesto Pizza
Recipe from Cookie + Kate.
Yum, pizza. The ultimate comfort food.
This healthy version combines the best of pizza with some of the most nutritious ingredients. Kale, loaded with antioxidants and a great source of vitamin K, will bring some life to your pizza game.
- 1 batch easy whole wheat pizza dough or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup lightly packed kale, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Optional garnishes: red pepper flakes
- 3 cups packed kale, preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped (about 1 small bunch)
- ¾ cup pecans or walnuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, depending on their size
- ¾ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. If you’re using a baking stone or baking steel, place it in the oven on the top rack. If you’re using my dough recipe, prepare dough through step 4. If you’re using store-bought dough, check the instructions of the package. It might need to rest at room temperature while you work on the pesto.
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, add the kale, pecans, lemon juice, garlic, salt and several twists of freshly ground black pepper. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the oil. Process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper if necessary.
- Prepare the pizza dough as directed. Make two pizzas if using this pizza dough recipe. If you’re using store-bought dough, roll it out into one large pizza. I like to roll out the dough on pieces of parchment paper for easy transfer to the oven. For best results, roll the dough out as thin as reasonably possible while maintaining an even surface level.
- Top pizza(s) with an even layer of pesto (you may end up with extra pesto, which would be great on pasta or as a sandwich spread, etc.). Sprinkle cheese over the top. Lastly, in a small bowl, toss 1 cup chopped kale with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Rub the oil into the kale so it’s covered with a light, even layer. Distribute the kale evenly over the top of the pizza.
- Transfer one pizza to the oven, either on a baking sheet or onto your preheated baking stone. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese on top is bubbly (about 10 to 12 minutes on a baking sheet, or as few as 5 minutes on a baking stone). Repeat with remaining pizza, if necessary. If desired, top pizza with a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Slice and serve.
Want to get more out of your nutrition? Looking to lose weight, or supplement and support your daily activities and exercise? Come in to any of our clubs today to get a Nutrition Consultation and a meal plan!