I feel like this time of year I’m always conflicted on what to eat and post on the blog. On one hand, I am inspired by all of the healthy eating recipes that I keep seeing pop up on my favorite blogs and website and am all “Yay clean eats!” but on the other hand, it’s flipping -20 degrees out today and all I want is rich, warm, cheesy comfort food. Whether this is in the form of macaroni cheese or a burger, it’s what I want.
While dinners like my Slow Cooker Quinoa Minestrone make healthy eating simple, attainable, AND delicious, sometimes I come home and just want a big plate of carbs and cheese. With a burger on the side. Those are the nights when a bowl of vegetable soup just isn’t going to cut it.
That’s when I look to my favorite comfort food recipes and see what I can do to lighten them up. Take Cheddar Broccoli and Rice (oh, helloooo deliciousness), for example. It meets all of my requirements for comfort food: carbs and cheese. It also fits the bill because this can be served as a side dish with the burger. However, when made with heavy cream, white rice, and tons of cheddar cheese, it doesn’t seem quite so innocent anymore. So I got all Extreme Makeover with it and made it healthier! Lactose free, even. Can you believe that?!
First of all, I swapped out the rice for quinoa. Quinoa is packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients and makes it 1000 times better than rice. Then I went and took out all that heavy cream and cheese and used almond milk and GO Veggie! Lactose Free Cheddar Cheese instead. And it was still super creamy and cheesy. I couldn’t believe it either.
Along with cutting down on the cholesterol, fat and saturated fat the GO Veggie! cheese also has just as much protein, more calcium, and fewer calories than dairy cheese. Winning.
If you’re not digging the lactose-free-ness of this casserole – you can definitely use milk and regular cheddar cheese, too.
So at that point when you just can’t take another cold day without a piping hot casserole full of cheese and carbs (pretty sure that was yesterday for me), ditch the cream of soup/heavy cream/loads of cheese version and lighten things up with this version. I promise, you won’t be able to tell the difference!