By Lucy Eva, Nutritionist
Comfort food is often what we crave when we’re feeling uncomfortable, unwell or nostalgic for foods we ate as children.
Traditionally hearty and rich, they provide a cosy sense of wellbeing when needed most. Think chocolate mud cake or your mum’s macaroni and cheese. Often these foods are not only full of sugar – not ideal when seeking comfort – but also full of gluten. For those with coeliac disease, this can mean only a small fraction of comfort food options. If you’re in dire need of some nourishing gluten-free comfort food inspiration, we’ve got you covered.
CLASSIC FAMILY PIE
Nothing says comfort like a classic family pie, and the good news for those with coeliac disease is gone are the days of having to make gluten-free pastry from scratch. There are loads of premade gluten-free pastry options, from sweet to savoury, that aren’t packed with trans fats and sugar. All you need to do is add your favourite filling, such as lentils, vegetables or stewed fruit, and enjoy diving in to a comfort food classic: the humble pie. Handy hint: boost the nutrition of savoury pie gravy by cooking your lentils, vegetables or meat in gut-friendly bone broth.
SPAGHETTI DONE DIFFERENTLY
Baked vegetables are comforting in itself, but take that comfort level one step further by transforming them into a nourishing pasta. Spaghetti squash is packed with fibre, minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A that works towards healthy vision and vitamin C for a strong immune system. Once baked in halves, it’s as simple as scraping out the fleshly strands that resemble spaghetti and adding your favourite pasta sauce with a sprinkle of cheese.
MAC ‘N’ CHEESE
For many, macaroni and cheese is THE definition of comfort food. Fortunately, there is a nourishing gluten-free and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese alternative by combining steamed cauliflower, soaked cashews, gluten-free pasta, savoury yeast flakes, almond milk, spices, herbs and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Perfect to curl up on the couch with after a long day.
BIG BAKED POTATO
Sweet potato provides comfort in two ways: its starchy texture combined with its sweet flavour. It’s also packed with fibre and vitamins, such as vitamin A. Perfect for a gluten-free comfort food. Adding other hearty and soothing foods onto a baked sweet potato gives maximum pleasure, such as cooked lentils, chickpeas, avocado, sour cream, goat’s cheese and savoury yeast flakes.
Raw treats have the benefit of being treated at low temperatures (if any) so they retain beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Plus, they tend to be focused around gluten-free ingredients, such as activated nuts, raw cacao, coconut flour, dates and sea salt. Without added sugar, you can satisfy chocolate cravings while not producing the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of sugar crashes. Yummo!
Reishi mushrooms are known as “the medicine of kings” and have been used for centuries in ancient Chinese medicine. Their abundance of health benefits includes liver detox, energy boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. With a bitter flavour, reishi powder is best added to sweet comfort foods, such as a rich hot chocolate with cacao powder, almond milk, agave syrup and cinnamon.
Activated charcoal is an ancient cleansing material to help rid the body of toxins. It can easily be added to recipes by mixing it with water to create a healthy elixir. Being black, it completely changes the colour of baking mixtures, so is often used in chocolate desserts for a more subtle effect – perfect to add to your next comforting chocolate cake or chocolate chia pudding. Try The Monday Food Co’s Paleo Lavender and Chocolate Gut-Friendly Cupcake mix.
SHEPHERD’S PIE RECIPE
Serves 4 | gluten free, vegan*, vegetarian
800g organic sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp butter or olive oil*
2 tbsp milk of your choice*
Extra virgin olive oil
2 organic onions, peeled and diced
1 organic garlic clove, peeled and minced
75g organic mushrooms, washed and diced
1 organic carrot, peeled and diced
600g can organic chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp organic tomato puree
2 tbsp gluten free tamari
150g lentils, cooked or canned, drained
1 handful fresh organic parsley, chopped
*Choose olive oil and a non-dairy milk option as vegan substitutes
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees.
- Steam sweet potato until cooked and tender. In a large bowl or pot, mix sweet potatoes with butter and milk, stirring until smooth.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring until translucent. Add mushrooms and carrots, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, puree, tamari, lentils and parsley and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Pour into a round baking dish. Top with mashed potato, using a fork to create lines across the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until potato is golden brown.