Across the world, people are spending more time at home due to COVID-19 precautions and restrictions. They’re also eating more and exercising less due to convenience, stress, or anxiety. According to a National Institute of Health study, 22% of adults reported weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

During this challenging time, it’s essential to fuel our bodies with healthy choices. The great news is, food can be comforting and nutritious. Switch out high-calorie, low-nutrient options for these healthy comfort foods.

Homemade soup vs. canned

A steaming bowl of hearty soup delivers instant comfort. But before you break out the can opener, know that canned soup is filled with sodium. That’s why it’s on the American Heart Association’s “Salty Six.” Diets high in sodium can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure

A batch of easy homemade soup gives you greater control over what goes into the pot. Adding beans, split peas, and lentils create a savory texture and provide high fiber. Carrots not only lend sweetness but are rich in potassium and vitamins A and C. For protein, use lentils, beans, or legumes. If you’d like meat, use fish, lean chicken, or turkey in place of processed or red meat. Or keep it vegetarian; beans and legumes are also packed with protein. If convenience is an issue, canned soup isn’t completely off-limits. Just look for cans with a low-sodium label and read the nutritional facts. 

Mashed cauliflower vs. potatoes

Since potatoes are a vegetable, they must be healthy, right? Unfortunately, most traditional mashed potato recipes are prepared with butter, cream, and salt, making them high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. 

Take your mashed potatoes to a healthier level by substituting fiber-rich cauliflower, parsnips, or sweet potatoes. Use olive oil, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, instead of cream and butter. Fresh herbs add a distinctive flavor along with vitamins A, C, and K. Pressed for time? Look for riced cauliflower in your grocery store’s frozen foods section. Plenty of other healthy comfort foods can make use of it.

Alternative to instant pudding

Pudding is a delicious way to end a meal or satisfy your sweet tooth. But whether it’s chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch, instant pudding is filled with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and stabilizers. Healthy comfort foods can do better!

Instead of instant pudding (boxed or in pudding packs), try our Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding recipe. It delivers a healthy dose of calcium, zinc, protein, and essential fatty acids. 

Salmon burgers vs. beef patties

There’s nothing like a juicy burger, either from your grill or fast-food drive-through, to satisfy a food craving. That burger slathered in ketchup and sandwiches between processed bun is filled with fat, sugar, and other empty calories, though.

Create a healthier version by swapping out ground beef for turkey, a portobello mushroom, or salmon. Opt for a whole-grain bun or skip the bun altogether (lettuce wraps are all the rage). Our Perfect Salmon Burgers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Everyone has a go-to comfort food that invokes nostalgia, joy, or an easy reward for a stressful day. As you think about your personal comfort foods, consider how you can make small ingredient changes for a big nutritional payoff. Then keep up the great work by staying on track with these four simple tips for healthy eating.