On a cold Autumn evening I like nothing more than tucking into a boiling hot plate of cottage pie or sausage and mash. Whilst they certainly do taste amazing, comfort foods can be quite calorific which is of course not good for your waist line. So how can you still enjoy your favourite comfort foods without sacrificing on taste? the answer is simple – sacrifice the bad for the good. I’ll be focusing on three of the favourite comfort foods; cottage pie, sausage and mash and spaghetti bolognaise and give you advice on how to turn comfort foods into healthy comfort foods.
Typically a cottage pie is made with beef mince, vegetables, mash potato and beef gravy. The typical ingredients in Cottage pie often contain a fair amount of calories and fat- something you probably want to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight.
Switch it up
So how can you change the traditional cottage pie to become healthier without losing all the elements that make this dish one of the top comfort foods.
Swap beef for turkey mince
They look pretty similar but are quite different in terms of nutritional values.
- Beef mince is typically 124 calories per 100g whilst turkey mince has only 100
- Beef mince has 4.5g of fat whilst turkey only has 1.2g
- Beef mince has 2.0g of fat that saturates whilst turkey only has 0.6g
Use sweet potatoes for your mash
Generally sweet potatoes and white potatoes are all good for you in different ways, however the level of Vitamins in sweet potatoes far outweigh their whiter relatives.
- Sweet potatoes have 380% the amount of Vitamin A to white potatoes (if this isn’t the perfect reason to switch to sweet potatoes I don’t know what is!)
- Sweet potatoes has on average 90 calories per 100g portion in comparison to 92 for a white potato (not a massive difference, but every little helps!)
Chuck in extra vegetables
I don’t know how you typically make your cottage pie but when I make it I tend to stick to the basics, peas and carrots. To add a bit more bulk and vitamin to your meal why not add in extra vegetables like swede, turnips and leeks.
Sausage and mash
The good ol’ British favourite sausage and mash. I love mine with buttery mash drenched in onion gravy. So it is possible to make an old favourite healthy by removing some of the most vital ingredients? Of course it is.
Switch it up
The important thing to remember is that you should keep the premise of your meal as similar as possible to how you imagine it.The subtle change of ingredients are much better for you but it’ll taste so nice you’ll barely notice it.
Swap pork sausages for chicken
- Did you know pork sausages contain a massive 290-455 calories per link? That’s in comparison to a mere 140-160 in chicken sausages.
- Pork sausages have on average 23-38 grams of fat whilst chicken sausages only have 7-10 grams – that’s a massive difference.
Red is best
If you’re looking for a healthier way to eat your mash then it’s worth looking at those potatoes varieties with darker coloured flesh. Varieties include Purple Viking, Yukon Gold and Ruby Crescent. Remember to keep the skin on when mashing.
- Red potatoes have at least 10% of the recommend requirement of Vitamin B6
- Mashed red potatoes contain considerable more energy driving carbohydrates then a bowl of pasta.
- Red potatoes have a naturally buttery texture which eliminates the need to melt butter into your mash. This makes the most vital ingredient of sausage and mash fat free – winner!
- Red potatoes have around 20% of potassium – a banana only has 9%
- They’re gluten free – if you have to stick to a gluten free diet this will be be a happy revelation.
- It’s packed full of Vitamin C
I love a touch of Italian and spaghetti bolognaise is probably one of my favourite dishes – if it’s done right. Whilst it’s probably a lot better for you then burger and chips, spaghetti is jam packed with carbs which can be heavy in calories. Don’t stress you don’t have to give up your favourite Saturday night treat – you just need to get creative.
Switch it up
When it comes to healthier ingredients with spaghetti bolognaise it’s important to think outside the box. Whilst it may not taste completely the same, it’s definitely worth trying for the health benefits.
Courgetti – also known as Zucchini or summer squash is an amazingly healthy switch for traditional spaghetti.
- in regular spaghetti there is around 581 calories whilst courgettes only have 30
- regular pasta has around 121g in carbohydrates whilst courgettes only has 6.2g
Another alternative to steak mince is pork mince – why not give it a try?
- Pork mince has around 161 calories per 100g in comparison to a whopping 332 calories for beef
- It only contains around 7g of fat per 100g vs 30g in beef mince
- Fat saturates at only 4g per 100g in comparison to a massive 11g in beef.
I hope you have fun trying out the new versions of the old favourites. Do let me know what you think and whether you’d do a permanent swap!