15 Comfort Food Fixes
A healthier take on some classic favorites
Some men love to cook. Some don't. But no matter where you fall on that spectrum, you have to eat. And while takeout and ordering in are always options, there are times when all you want to do is throw something together. You know—one or two of those super-quick, super-easy meals you've been living on for years. The thing you cook when nothing else will hit the spot.
The only catch? Many of the most basic recipes in a guy's cooking repertoire - classic comfort foods like mac and cheese and sloppy joes - leave a lot to be desired nutritionally. They're usually high in calories, loaded with fat, and without a shred of fiber or vegetables. But they don't have to be.
With a few simple tweaks and substitutions, and the addition of a few healthy ingredients, all your classic mealtime standbys can be converted into great - tasting grub - food you can enjoy without sacrificing your abs.
Switch from white bread to whole-wheat for a boost of as much as 2 grams of fiber per slice. And instead of peanut butter, try one of its cousins. Cashew and almond butter taste just as good in a sandwich and have significantly more fiber and vitamin E. Finally, in place of sugar-laden jelly, add a layer of fresh fruit. Slices of banana or strawberries are lower in calories and significantly higher in metabolism-boosting, disease-fighting nutrients than plain old jelly.
Although you don't have to lose them all, try ditching at least a couple of the yolks from whatever you're scrambling up. One egg yolk contains 55 calories and 5 grams of fat, while an egg white has just 17 calories and zero grams of fat. (Egg substitutes like Egg Beaters make going yolk-free even easier.) Next, instead of melting butter in the pan, invest in a good nonstick skillet and coat it with cooking spray. Your eggs won't cling to the bottom, and for every tablespoon of butter you avoid using, you save yourself about 100 calories and 12 grams of fat. To make your omelet even leaner, fill it with a handful of low-fat shredded cheese and whatever veggies you have on hand. Try stashing a bag of spinach or broccoli in your freezer specifically for omelet-making. You can pull out a handful, defrost it, and toss it into your eggs for instant omelet filling.
Go ahead and make your meat sauce as normal, but then add a can of your favorite beans (cooked lentils, black beans, or small white beans are all good choices). If you're not a bean guy, toss in some finely chopped, cooked portobello mushrooms. The shrooms' meaty texture will blend right in, cutting the number of calories you get per serving and upping the joe's vitamin and mineral count.
We'll be the first to admit it: Most whole-wheat, high-fiber pasta sucks. But whole-wheat blends are an entirely different beast. They're less dense and chewy and have the same great pasta taste you know and love-along with an added blast of fiber that's barely noticeable. Barilla makes an excellent line called Barilla Plus. Once your pasta is cooked, make sure you top it with the right sauce. Many big brands are filled with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Take a quick scan of whatever you're buying: If either sweetener is listed among the first four ingredients, it's time to find yourself a better sauce.