Across the country, this past week or two have been some of the coldest of the year. And, usually, when the temperature drops, I get a craving for those hearty, warm comfort foods that I grew up eating.
But when I go back and look at the recipes for those comfort foods, I find that they’re far from healthy (and often full of butter, cream, and cheese).
And it begs the question, “Can I still eat my favorite comfort foods and follow a plant-based diet?”
For most of us, food serves as more than just sustenance. Food carries meaning and memories. It’s part of our traditions and our cultures.
And that’s honestly the most challenging part about changing the way you eat; the idea that you might not have those comfort foods to lean on anymore.
But I’m not writing this to bum you out, quite the opposite.
I’ve learned that I actually enjoy the healthier versions of those comfort foods even more because they make me feel better. When I think back on the times I ate those comfort foods, it’s really the memories and the traditions that I crave, not the heavy, creamy dish that would often leave me with a stomach ache.
Now I’m able to enjoy a version of that dish that reminds me of my childhood, but I don’t have to be sluggish and stuck on the couch for the rest of the day.
Thankfully, we live in a time where we have so many options when it comes to plant-based substitutions.
Veggie burgers are plentiful at most grocery stores, and foods like hummus have become totally mainstream.
Here are some common substitutions for foods you might find in your traditional dishes:
- Meat: It depends on the dish you’re making, but there are a lot of meat alternatives you can buy out there (Like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods). If you’re looking to go a healthier route, foods like jackfruit, beans, portabello mushrooms, tofu and tempeh are all great options.
- Cheese: If you’re heading to the grocery store, some of our favorite plant-based cheeses are Miyoko’s, Follow Your Heart, Daiya, and Chao. But if you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own cheese substitute using cashews!
- Milk: The possibilities seem to be endless in this category: Almond, soy, flax, coconut, oat, etc. Each of those options has a different nutrition profile, so find the one that works best for your lifestyle and is accessible to you.
- Butter: You can find butter alternatives at the grocery store, but depending on what you plan on using it for, there are some easy substitutions you might already have in your pantry. If you’re baking, you can often use applesauce, coconut oil, mashed banana, or nut butter. But if you’re just looking to replace butter on your toast or sandwich, try using a spread like hummus or nut butter. You’ll cut the calories and add more flavor!
Of course, you can always Google ‘plant-based version of (insert food here)’ to find a recipe for your favorite dish. But I’ve compiled a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Cowboy Chili
- Hearty Chickpea Pasta Soup
- Pulled No-Pork Nachos
- Creamy Mac & Cheese
- Plant-Based Mole Enchiladas
- Walnut Banana Bread
- Plant-Based Chocolate Fudge
Additionally, I encourage you to check out the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I’ve found some of my favorite recipes of all time in that book.
You can find all of the recipes above and so much more inside the 80/20 Plants app! Plus, our coaches always have great substitution ideas for you to try.