The foundation of eating ‘right’ is preparing food that will not only satisfy the parameters of a healthy diet but will also leave one feeling satisfied. A healthy diet is only as effective as the impetus to remain on said diet and the more satisfying the meal, the more likely one would be to continue the trend. So, how do we make satisfying food more ‘healthy’? The simple answer is building flavors. When you take away the reliance on sugars and fats to add richness and depth of flavor to a dish, it is important to pull flavors from more non-traditional roots. The Granola Bar in Westport (Greenwich coming soon) has some great tips for food substitutions that will enhance both the taste and health benefits of any dish.
1. Nut Creams and Cheeses - One of the usual suspects in the line up of ‘unhealthy’ foods is dairy. i.e. cheese, cream, etc… Soaked nuts make a wonderful and flavorful alternative to traditionally dairy heavy dishes. You can soak any nut in plain water for 3 or more hours and it will soften up to a point that it can be pureed into a creamy liquid or smooth paste. Each variety of nut will, obviously carry its own flavor profile so you can play around with them to suit your taste. At The Granola Bar, we add nutritional yeast and spices to soaked cashew to make the ‘Ricotta’ for our vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna.
2. Dairy Alternatives for Soups - Another item that has been often stricken from the list of acceptable heathy meals is a hearty creamy soup/chowder. The combination of pureed soaked nuts and dairy alternatives such as coconut or almond milk make for a super flavorful and satisfying ‘creamy’ bisque or chowder that feels like a meal, without the added guilt. Try the vegan Cauliflower Chowder at TGB!
3. Fats and Sugars - The other most obvious of culprits are fats and sugars. It would be miserable to just abstain altogether so we like to use alternatives to the standards to produce delicious ‘healthier’ alternatives. At TGB we make a Chocolate Mousse using pureed avocado as the base and Agave syrup as the sweetener. The result is a smooth chocolatey dessert that is not only full of Omega 3 and Oleic fatty acids, but also low in sugar, raw, and Vegan. We top it with flavorful cashew creams to really take it to the next level.
4. Gluten alternatives - Another major player in the ‘unhealthy’ game is gluten and, more specifically, pasta. Using vegetables in place of pasta in dishes provides a wonderful alternative that also serves to build the depth of flavor so crucial in creating satisfying meals. We at TGB use thin sheets of Butternut Squash in place of Lasagna noodles for our signature vegan lasagna. You could also use zucchini or any other firm vegetable as noodles in a traditional pasta dish. Top it off with a beautiful nut cream Alfredo and you might not want to venture back to the Dark Side.
5. Non-Processed foods - Lastly, one of the most important factors in creating balance in your diet is to venture away from processed foods as much as possible. The farther a product strays away from its natural form, the more work your body has to put into managing the digestion of those foods. This inherently takes away from the energy put into breaking down foods into their peak nutritional output. Avoiding refined sugars, preservatives, nitrates/nitrites, etc, will do wonders for your overall wellness. At TGB we do our best to produce everything in-house so we can be assured that what we send out is of top quality. Know where your food comes from. Ask questions. Empower yourself.