Best Life Ever, Episode 2: Healthy Comfort Food!

by Julie on January 14, 2014

in Best Life Ever Podcast

Download the episode here!

Welcome to Best Life Ever, the podcast bringing you tips, tricks and resources to help you lead a healthier, happier life!


We’re Julie and Heather. Julie writes about food, recipes and appreciating the little things in life on Savvy Eats.  Heather manages the community site Healthy Living Blogs, and writes about her personal life on Then Heather Said.  We work together on the Healthy Living Summit. Welcome to our podcast!

Let’s talk comfort food! Healthy comfort food, to be exact.

Heather’s go-to comfort food is pizza. Sometimes thick crust, sometimes thin… she’s not picky. All pizza is delicious!

To make it a bit healthier, she likes to make her own. Whole wheat crust totally makes pizza a healthy food, right? She uses the original version of this recipe.

What about non-grain crusts?  Cauliflower crusts sound like our next new adventure!

Julie’s comfort food is mac and cheese. When she’s having a really terrible day, she goes with the blue box (hangs head in shame).

Make it healthier by adding some whole wheat pasta, vegetables and/or upping the protein. But do not use low-fat cheese. Aka, pencil eraser cheese. And don’t cut back on the cheese… it makes up half the dish’s name! Don’t do it!

Also, there are cookbooks full of mac & cheese recipes that need to be explored.  Mother’s Best AND Melt look fabulous.

When it comes to making comfort foods healthier, Heather likes to focus on adding more good things rather than taking away the bad things. Have a side salad before your pizza, for instance!

Butternut-Apple-Pizza-3Also, if you’re choosy about your ingredients, and use high-quality, flavorful foods, you don’t need to be as heavy-handed with them. Julie’s butternut squash and apple pizza uses both goat cheese and blue cheese, and since they have stronger flavors, you need less of them for a delicious pizza.

Let’s talk about other ways we make our foods healthier.

Heather uses lots of applesauce in baking. So does Julie, especially when it comes to quick breads.

Julie is all about subbing in more whole grains. She keeps a ton of quinoa and brown rice, plus small amounts of farro, barley, amaranth and a few others on hand at all times, for whenever inspiration strikes. Whole Grains for a New Generation is one of her go-to cookbooks for cooking ideas.

If you’re looking to branch out in your whole grains usage, try farro! It is mild in flavor and nearly always delicious. Mix it with some shredded chicken, kale and a vinaigrette. Or make a pesto salad.

Heather likes to keep lots of healthy snacks and ingredients on hand, like applesauce and almonds. And we try for fresh produce, but it can be tough in the northern states during the winter. We do our best!

Quinoa-Corn-ChowderJulie is loving homemade soup lately, like this vegan quinoa corn chowder. Stock + whole grains + vegetables + maybe some protein = delicious soup in 30 minutes.

It is super easy to make your own stock. Just save your vegetable trimmings in the freezer. When you have a big bag or container of vegetable pieces, toss them in a stockpot with some herbs and water. Simmer for a few hours, and boom! Homemade stock, ready for souping or freezing.

If you freeze your stock in jars, make sure to freeze them with the lids OFF first. Julie learned that one the hard way.

Flavor It!

New segment alert! Flavor It! is our new segment, in which Heather challenges Julie to come up with some flavor pairing ideas for a particular ingredient.

Julie and Heather are both on a quest to eat ALL OF THE CITRUS this winter, so it only seems natural for that to be the first focus of Flavor It! Here are some favorites:

Fennel-Salad-2Orange and chocolate! Orange and ginger! Lemon and ginger! All these make great quick breads.

Blood oranges and fennel are great together in salads.

Meyer lemon and chicken are great. So are lime and chicken! And lemon aioli and chicken!

Citrus and beef might have Julie stumped. Maybe some mandarin orange and beef?

Ham is not beef, but orange juice in a ham glaze is nice.

Grapefruit in cocktails is one of Heather’s favorites.

Organize It!

Let’s organize the baking items in our pantry, now that the holiday baking season is past.

We don’t need multiple containers of all-purpose flour or powdered sugar or whatever. Consolidate as much as you can, and put the one that needs to be used first up front.

Get everything in one area of your pantry, and get it sorted out so you can easily find things!

Nutty-Granola-2Have a bunch of mix-ins like dried fruit or chocolate chips? Make a big batch of granola, or mix them into oatmeal or pancake batter! We love these granola recipes:

Feel like you don’t have time? Try getting some organizing done while you wait for your tea and coffee to steep/brew!

Little Things:

2013-12-06_1386345047Julie’s Little Thing is her fingerless gloves. 120 year old house + giant bay window = pretty, but chilly. Fingerless gloves to the rescue!

bamaryimagesHeather is loving her bama+ry jewelry, especially the bracelets.

So that’s a wrap! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and chat with us using the #bestlifepodcast hashtag.  We want to get to know you!  Here’s some conversation starters:

  • What is your favorite comfort food?
  • How do you make your comfort food healthier?
  • How would you pair beef and citrus?
  • What is your favorite citrus pairing?

Download the episode here!

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