How-To: Cook for Summer Comfort

June 17, 2020 by University District

A unique take on good old-fashioned dishes you need to try


Even in summer, we are pressed to beat the pleasure of comfort food. We’re talking well-stacked burgers, aromatic butter chicken over rice, ooey-gooey mac n’ cheese, and Napoletana thin-crust pizza made from scratch.


Whether you’re cooking to feed your family, vary suppertime options, ease your anxiety, or just keep busy, University District has you covered with some well-loved comfort dishes from our favourite grocer and retail partner, Save-on-Foods.


From breakfast and mains to dessert, we’re sharing tips to transform quintessential dishes into delicious, lightened-up versions of themselves, along with tried-and-true recipes with a twist to bring joy to the table. Let’s dig in!



Master the ultimate comfort food and satisfy your inner cookie monster. Whether you’re a budding baker taking your baking sheets on an inaugural run or a bake sale pro, these bite-sized tips and must-try recipes will take your cookie game from good to great. 


Making Healthier Choices: Easy Tips to Make Comfort Food Better For You


Too much fat, too many calories and too few nutrients! Is there a way to warm the stomach and soothe the soul with delicious, good old-fashioned comfort food without the guilt? While it may be hard to believe, there are tons of smart, calorie-slashing substitutions that can be made to boost the nutritional value of your favourite foods without sacrificing flavour.



Vegetables aplenty: Pump up the veggie quotient


A colourful mix of vegetables can brighten any dish. Spinach, peppers, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, broccolini…the options are endless!


Substitute some of the ground meat in your lasagne with a beautiful vegetable medley. Make a creamy cheese sauce for your nachos or tacos with puréed cauliflower or butternut squash to balance out the cheese. For more flavour and a wider range of vitamins, try stirring in steamed broccoli florets, peas, or tomatoes in your casserole dish. Or, try spaghetti squash or even zoodles (spiralized zucchini) in place of noodles. All super-healthy and tasty alternatives!


Tip: Need a salad to accompany your meal? Try this simple and easy couscous salad recipe from the team at Freshii! It’s packed with texture, flavour and is deliciously addictive.


NW Calgary fans have a reason to celebrate! Save-On-Foods isn’t U/D’s only beloved brand that’s joining the family.  YYC Cycle, OEB Breakfast Co., Market Wines, among many other local brands will be opening their doors later this year, and there’s still more to come. Find out about our thriving retail district here



Swap smart: Cheese selection matters!


Bringing cheese into the mix doesn’t mean staying healthy is out the window. What matters is that you make smart choices.


The more flavourful the cheese, the less you need to use! Consider bold flavoured extra-sharp cheddar, goat cheese or Gruyere. Sprinkle it on tacos, pizza, enchiladas or try white cheddar for a lighter mac n’ cheese. If you’re craving pasta with a decadent cheese cream sauce, swap heavy cream for evaporated skim milk! It cooks up beautifully with a rich, delicious taste but contains fewer calories and half the fat.



Whole grains all the way


Whole grains come in all shapes, sizes, tastes and textures and are an essential part of a healthy diet. It offers a plethora of savoury and sweet applications from breakfast to dinner and everything in between!


Next time you bake, consider using buckwheat or rye flour in muffins, breads and pancakes, or finer-textured whole-wheat pastry flour in pie crusts and cakes. Replace traditional pastas with varieties made from quinoa and spelt. Use brown rice instead of white, and swap out the refined wheat crust for whole grains.  Your waistline will thank you.


Munching on a plate full of chocolate chip cookies while diving into some snappy work of literature, or chewing on forkfuls of leftover cake al fresco on the patio with a page-turner that is just too good to put down. Yes, books are best paired with dessert! If you’re seeking some inspiration for your next literary find, we have you covered. Take a read here


Cooking for Comfort – Simple and Delicious Recipes!


Dig into your favourite comfort food dishes with these easy-to-make recipes from Save-on-Foods. Whether you’re in the mood for something warm, cheesy or sweet, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re craving, with a few twists to transform them into delicious, lightened-up, veggie-filled versions of themselves.



Buttermilk raisin bran pancakes


What’s more inviting than hot-off-the-griddle pancakes? These delightful hotcakes have the extra goodness of buttermilk, bran and raisins, and are topped off with your berry of choice. It’s the perfect way to bolster your vitamin power in yummy breakfast form!


Twist Tip: Boost the sweetness of these thick and fluffy pancakes with agave rather than refined sugar or syrup. Still need an extra dose of sweetness? Add another serving of fruit! Opt for berries that are full of antioxidants or a potassium-packed banana.


Get the recipe, here.



Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Pesto BBQ Pizza


Pizza is about as comforting as comfort food gets. It’s no wonder this thin-crust pie gets two thumbs up from U/D!  With thinly sliced sweet basil, sprinkles of grape tomatoes and the richness of prosciutto, lux flavours abound with this indulgent pizza pie.


Twist Tip: Amp up the health factor with a made-from-scratch crust! Try cauliflower, polenta or protein-packed chickpea flour to give into that craving for a slice a bit more sensibly. Vegetarian? Swap out prosciutto with plant-based alternatives, grilled eggplant, or tasty portobello mushrooms.


Get the recipe, here.



Grilled enchilada skillet


Any day with a chicken enchilada skillet is a fabulous day. Big on flavour, super easy and oh-so delicious, this skillet is the perfect hearty weeknight meal!


Twist Tip: Like to serve your enchilada skillet over tortillas? Instead, opt for cauliflower rice, which can be made by grating or processing cauliflower and heating it with a touch of oil in a pan. Another tip we love? Cut back on salt by selecting lower-sodium beans and canned tomatoes. Your dish will taste just as warm, filling and scrumptious without all the added salt!


Get the recipe, here.



Bacon and butternut mac n’ cheese


Carbs and comfort go hand-in-hand, so when it’s a warm bowl of pasta you’re craving, dig into the dish that offers the perfect trifecta of bacon, cheese and noodles: bacon and butternut squash mac n’ cheese! It’s creamy, rich and strikes the perfect balance between healthy and indulgent and is going to be a staple on your family menu in no time. Remove the bacon and you have yourself a perfectly meatless meal option!


Twist Tip: Scratch the regular pasta, rejig the cheese ratio and throw in some veggies for crunch and colour and you’ve got mac n’ cheese 2.0 – a healthier and lighter version of this classic comfort dish!


Get the recipe, here.



Grilled eggplant haloumi burger


If you’re looking for a light vegetarian grilled dinner option, you found it! For a healthier, tasty summer barbeque option, fill your burger bun with slices of tender, flavourful eggplant and the squeaky and delicious Cypriot cheese that makes everything better – haloumi. Pair it with a side of baked jicama or sweet potato fries and you’ve got a plate full of comfort.


Twist Tip: Looking for a healthy, low-calorie option? Choose whole-wheat buns, pita or forgo the bread altogether and use lettuce leaves instead. Get even more creative and sandwich your eggplant and haloumi between large, seasoned Portobello mushroom caps. Yum!


Get the recipe, here.



Strawberry and chocolate dessert nachos


A clever twist on nachos! Layers of strawberries and chocolate piled upon a bed of sweet and crunchy cinnamon chips and topped with a little whipped cream. What could be tastier? This decadent dessert makes for the perfect family weeknight activity. It’s easy to throw together and will leave a lasting impression – especially for kids!


Twist Tip: Still craving the cooling scoop of ice cream on top? Try Greek yogurt! Lower in sugar and calories, it still offers the creamy texture you crave. Another tip? Add flavour, protein and nutrients with a dash of toasted coconut, pecans or almonds. A little sprinkle goes a long way.


Get the recipe, here.


While this list is just the beginning of classic comfort foods, we hope you take these tips and tricks and apply them to some of your favourites. Need some more inspiration? Check out Save-on-Food’s full selection of easy-to-prepare, crowd-pleasing entrees, and sinful dessert recipes here.  With extra time at home, now’s your chance to try them all!


Have a healthy comfort food suggestion worth sharing? We can’t wait to try it out! Share on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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