A Guide to Healthy Comfort Food

Satisfying Your Craving Without Ruining Your Diet

By Mariah Metzger

I love French fries, mac and cheese, hot wings, bread, sodium and anything covered in marinara sauce. However, my body doesn’t necessarily feel the same way.

It stores all the fat from the high sugars and sodium and causes me to feel bloated, tired, and gain weight. And I know a lot of people who feel the same. So I decided to try out some recipes this week that would give me the same pleasure as all the fatty foods I love, without the negative repercussions.

For breakfast, I would stick to smaller meals such as yogurt and fruit throughout the morning. Lunches would vary in size. What I was focused on for this experiment though, was dinner.

Usually by dinner time my body has had it. By this time, I am starving and fed up with denying myself of pretzels or chips on my lunch break. Most nights, I am looking to eat something that’s super fried, and full of carbs.

The first night of my “alternative comfort foods” experiment was spaghetti squash, which is simpler than it sounds. First, set the oven to about 400 degrees. While that is preheating, cut the squash in half, scrape all the seeds out with a fork, and drizzle some olive oil on it. Make sure you buy a spaghetti squash, and not a butternut squash. I did that once and the end product was very disappointing.

Once the oven is ready, stick that bad boy in. Make sure you put both sides of the squash face down, so that its laying on the side you cut open.

Once the squash is nearly done, start prepping your sauce. No, I didn’t make my own sauce. As a poor student with little time, I picked up a jar of homemade sauce at Top Tomato. Overall, the whole meal cost me about $7 and took less than an hour.

The second night I decided to make buffalo Cauliflower and zucchini fries, one of my favorites. Cut the cauliflower up into individual pieces, you don’t want your pieces to be too small or too big. Next, you drizzle them in olive oil, salt, and pepper. You preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place them on a pan to bake. You wanna leave them for about a half an hour, and then let them cool for about 10 minutes. Next, you get to smother them in the buffalo sauce of your choosing. Dip into ranch if you feel like being extra bad with your healthy self.

Zucchini fries were a little harder. First, cut the zucchini into “fry” shapes. Next, dip them in flour, salt, and pepper. After that, dip them in milk, and, finally, breadcrumb. You can find healthier alternatives to these steps, such as almond milk, or panko.

Next, set them on a baking tray and put them in the oven. You want to make sure the oven is set to 425. Twenty minutes later, or until they start browning, you’re done! You now have healthy fries. This meal probably costed me $10, and was super filling.

The third night I decided to go with a not-so-classic avocado mac and cheese. I used a box of Banza shells, which is a macaroni made out of chickpeas. I assume most college students know how to make mac and cheese, but you want to boil a pot of water first. Once it boils, add the pasta.

It smells a little funny after putting it in hot water, but don’t be turned off by the smell. After the pasta finishes, which took about 7 minutes, let it sit in the strainer and added a little butter to keep it from sticking.

Start making the cheese sauce in the same pot with four tablespoons of butter, a few slices of American cheese, and a little bit of milk. Once the sauce is ready, add some avocado slices. Make sure your avocado is ripe. It should turn the sauce green and you’re done. This was a quick and easy one to whip up and only cost me $4.

And last but not least, my boyfriend made his dreamy and delicious three bean chili in the crockpot. I had little to do with this one, but his secret is the crockpot. All you do is throw ingredients together, and just wait. You want to start early if you’re using a crockpot, because it can take at least 6 hours. It’s a no meat chili, so all of the delicious veggies he puts in soak up the tomato and spices. This is hands down one of my favorite meals, and you can find lots of easy variations of it online.

My four-day experiment left me feeling more awake, alert, and more confident in myself. It’s true what they say, you really are what you eat.

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