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What is Soul Food?

We all have our own soul foods. No, not food that we get from the deep south of the United States. The food that we eat for our soul. The foods that we absolutely love. Our comfort foods. But comfort foods that aren’t just good for our taste buds, but that are good for our mind and body too!

"Regardless of what type of foods you like, or the way you eat, we all have our own comfort foods."

Everyone has their own definition of what a comfort food is. That’s because our taste buds are as unique as we are individuals. We’ve become accustomed to certain foods and flavours. And what we consider to taste good or bad can change based on the foods we eat. It really takes very little time to change your taste buds. As little as three days in fact.

Regardless of what type of foods you like, or the way you eat, we all have our own comfort foods. And in most cases, those comfort foods are probably less-than-ideal when it comes to fuelling your body with the good stuff. So I’ve taken some of the most common “comfort foods” and turned them into “soul foods” — foods that are not just good for your taste buds, but good for your body and mind too.

The Most Common Comfort Foods Turned Into Soul Foods

  • Toasted Sandwich

This is one of my favourites too. I love a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese. When I stopped eating wheat and gluten, this was probably the one food I missed most. The easiest solution, switch to gluten free; or even better… make your own bread.

  • Mashed Potato

Simple switch here. Swap to sweet potato. And while you’re out swapping, swap your cream for coconut cream too. Then add butter and garlic for a great taste.

  • Mac and Cheese

I personally have never been into this. I think it’s plain and boring. But I know lots of people are, including my own kids. You could easily swap the mac for a gluten free alternative but I don’t think the gluten free version of pasta has kept up with the gluten free version of bread. Instead, mandolin some carrot and zucchini and melt a heap of cheese over that.

  • Tacos

I. Love. Mexican! The meat, vegetables, guacamole and salsa is all very healthy, especially if you make the salsa yourself. The only aspect worth changing is the shell. If you want the crunchy texture, choose a gluten free version to bake. If you don’t, wrap it in a lettuce leaf.

  • Pizza

Possibly the most recognisable comfort food, pizza is ordered on a Friday night around many homes, gauged on late at night, and even eaten cold for breakfast the next day. But what about making it yourself? And while you’re at it, add a heap of veggies to the toppings like capsicum, broccoli and spinach, and swap that base out for a home-made coconut flour or cauliflower rice and almond meal one.

  • Alphabet Soup

Just reading “alphabet soup” probably evokes so many memories from your childhood. What about alphabet vegetable soup? I know. That doesn’t sound very enticing. But think about how healthy it is and the extra time you can spend with your children, teaching them to love cooking and how to make healthy eating delicious. Add onion, carrots, celery and cauliflower to home-made alphabet pasta.

  • Cheeseburger 

Running with the common trend here, dough. Replace your bun with a lettuce wrap. Make your own patty, get some cheese, add some home-made mayo and wrap it in a large lettuce leaf. If we ever go to Macca's, this is what I order.

  • Gravy

Rather than reaching into the cupboard for that packet to add hot water to, why not take an extra couple of minutes and make your own? All you need is some butter, onion, mushrooms, parsley, chicken or beef stock, arrowroot or tapioca flour, with salt and pepper.

  • Hot chips 

The most simple solution is to slice up some sweet potato, sprinkle some rosemary and sea salt, and drizzle some olive oil over it, then place it in the oven. Simple. You’ve got healthy and delicious chips.

  • Fried Chicken

Feel like KFC? I don’t know the 11 herbs and spices but this recipe tastes very similar and is way more healthy! Mix together almond meal, paprika, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Drench your chicken pieces in egg and coat with the mixture. Place in the oven until golden brown.

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs

Instead of spaghetti, cut up some carrot or zucchini noodles. I know lots of people say they just don’t think they can replace spaghetti for carrots or zucchini. If that’s you, why not try Japanese Soba noodles, Shirataki noodles, or even quinoa. When you’re making your meatballs, add a few veggies in there to get those extra nutrients in.

  • Ice Cream

Making your own ice cream is the best solution for a healthier version to ice cream. But an even quicker and healthier version is yoghurt. Get some plain yoghurt, add some of your favourite frozen berries like blueberries or raspberries, or maybe even some frozen mango, and drizzle some honey over the top if you still crave that sweet flavour.

There are so many options to turn your comfort foods into soul foods. Comfort foods are the foods you reach for when you’re searching for something that tastes good. Often this is because of an association we’ve made when we were young. Soul foods are our comfort foods that have been modified to make them healthy. To make comfort foods soul foods, all you need is a bit of imagination and a willingness to give things a go.

What’s your go-to comfort food? 

Leave your answer to that question, and any comments you might have, in the comments section below.

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