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"Help a Health Educator:Comfort Foodies" Challenge

We launched a fun contest for the month of April- “Help a Health Educator: Comfort Foodies”. Each week, we shared one of our favorite (not so healthy) comfort foods. We asked our friends and followers to comment on the posts with ideas for ingredient swaps and ways to make the food a bit healthier. We randomly picked 2 participants to win $50 Hannaford gift cards.
We had so much fun with this contest, and we hope you did too! Here’s a summary of the Comfort Foodies challenge.

Week 1

Jean & Bonnie LOVE mac & cheese. The cheesy goodness never fails to put smiles on their faces. Help them turn their favorite comfort food into a treat they can indulge in without feeling guilty.

Jean and Bonnie

Some of our favorite suggestions:

Mary: Cauliflower mac and cheese.

Colin: I like to add veggies like broccoli, spinach or zucchini.

Emily: Mac and cheese made with squash. My kids even eat it!

Lindsay: Well mac n cheese is delicious but isn't the healthiest! If you modify it too much then it's not truly mac n cheese anymore! To keep it true but a bit more nutritious- go for a better pasta. Whole wheat/quinoa/protein fortified pasta. Real milk, grass fed butter and freshly grated cheese (pre-shredded has additives). I wouldn't change much else, but be mindful of portion size and pair it with roasted/steamed veggies and a lean protein. It's all about real food, balance and moderation in my book!

Jean’s thoughts: “I loved reading all the great ideas to make my fav, mac & cheese, a bit more healthy.  Who knew there were so many options??  I’ve very intrigued by the cauliflower mac & cheese idea, I’m going to have to give that one a whirl.  I’m sure I’ll be trying some others as well!  Thanks for so many awesome alternatives.”

Bonnie’s thoughts: I love the comment that mentions ‘real food, balance and moderation’. Those are great words to live by! I think I’m also going to try a healthified cauliflower mac & cheese. Thanks to all of you for sharing your healthy suggestions.

Week 2

Tina and her family LOVE homemade banana bread with chocolate chips. They enjoy it warm and topped with butter. What kind of swaps could they do to make their sweet treat a bit healthier?


Some of our favorite suggestions:

Amie: Skip the butter on top and make banana ice cream with frozen bananas, or maybe Greek or frozen yogurt to get that melted-in sweetness.

Melissa: I like to add cinnamon or another spice like nutmeg to increase flavor. This way I can cut some of the sugar out.

Nellie: Use apple sauce instead of the oil and use dark chocolate chips.

Catie: You can also use vegetable or fruit puree instead of the oil- like prune or pear!

Erica: We always sub the applesauce and cut down on sugar pretty significantly from my Nana's recipe, as the over ripe bananas are quite sweet. We like to throw in Maine blueberries (the tiny ones) when we have them for an extra bit of awesome.

Tina’s thoughts: “Thank so much for your comments and input on making my banana bread healthier! We use our Nana’s recipe which is loaded with sugar so next time I’m going to swap out ½ the sugar and use applesauce instead, as many suggested. I’ll also try the whole wheat flour. The big test will be to see if the kids notice the difference… Thanks for the tips!” 

Week 3

Kayla can’t resist the call of French fries. She just can’t say no to their salty goodness! Help her come up with ways she can make this snack a guilt-free option, or even ways to replace it altogether.


Some of our favorite suggestions:

Ally: I love kale chips! Make with a tiny bit of olive oil and a dash of salt. These definitely help me with any salt craving or chip/French fry cravings! Even better, kale is so easy to grow right at home!

Donna: Turnips fries baked in the oven with smoky paprika and a bit of olive oil are delicious.

Ryan: Edamame with Himalayan sea salt, or stovetop popcorn popped in coconut oil and sprinkled with Himalayan sea salt or nutritional yeast- or both!

Lindsay: Baked sweet potato fries for sure! You can also make baked carrot, zucchini and beet fries and make them "salty" by coating them in a batter before baked. Dip in egg wash and then a mixture of panko, grated Parmesan and a little Italian seasoning & salt. After coated, bake them, turning until all sides are golden!

Kayla’s thoughts: “Everyone’s ideas were so helpful. I might need to try them all! Ally’s suggestion to make homemade kale chips is going to be my first experiment. If I’m feeling ambitious I may even try out my green thumb and grow the kale at home first! Thank you all for the inspiration to trade in my unhealthy salt addiction for something a little better for my body.”

Week 4

Jess says, “Growing up, getting pizza was a luxury reserved for school dance nights and sleepovers. Now that I'm feeding my own kids, we eat pizza as much as we can!” Help Jess turn pizza into a healthy meal!


Some of our favorite suggestions:

Elizabeth: I make pizza at home so I can reduce the amount of sodium. For instance, I use low-sodium tomato products for the sauce. Going light on the cheese will also reduce the sodium content. I love to use lots of veggies for toppings. Lighter, healthier, but still delicious. 

Emily: English muffin pizzas. The portion is controlled and it's super easy on a busy night.

Catie: Stuffed Portobello mushrooms with pizza toppings on the inside. I hear cauliflower pizza is good too!

Eileen: We make them with a whole wheat tortilla, some pasta sauce, nutritional yeast for a cheesy taste and a bunch of chopped veggies. Gosh they are so good!

Lindsay: Homemade pizza can totally be a healthy meal! Getting kids to help prep and top the pizzas can also help them to eat things they wouldn't normally choose on their pizza! So many options- whole wheat crust, cauliflower crust. Use an olive oil base with no sauce or homemade sauce (I purée roasted carrots in mine), skip the pepperoni and add fresh veggies (or pineapple). We like to do little round slices of fresh mozzarella dotted around the pizza. So yummy! Fresh basil ribbons on top after its done baking!

Jess’s thoughts: “Thanks for the suggestions. Some of your ideas were a bit too healthy for me-cauliflower pizza? We’ll have to work up to that! ;-) But I love the idea of grilling, adding lots of veggies, and maybe even trying a Portobello mushroom as the crust. Fun!”

Thank you to everyone who participated in this fun challenge. If you haven’t already, please “like” us on Facebook so that you can participate in our next challenge!

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