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Healthy comfort food recipes?
December 7, 2013 3:29 PM   Subscribe

This week we'll be embarking on a complicated task at work that will take about two days. The last time we did a couple of us brought junk food snacks, but two of the women in our group are perpetually dieting and spent the day looking longingly at the food, and then seeming very regretful when they eventually ate it. That makes me sad. I'd like to bring some food that they wouldn't feel bad about eating.

The ideal recipe would be:

- pretty healthy
-, comfort food delicious
- easy (I'm not a super-talented cook, and I also have three small children)
- something I can bring that wouldn't require re-heating
- something people can munch on bit by bit all day

I know that this is a tall order and I know that nothing might hit all five points, but Metafilter, if you can pull this off you'll make a whole group of employees much less stressed. Thanks so much!
posted by christinetheslp to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Hummus and pita chips or pretzels would hit the spot for me.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

How about one of those crudite trays with raw veggies and dip?
posted by telegraph at 3:36 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Chili? The only point it doesn't hit on your list is the heating. Would it be possible to have a slow cooker plugged in to keep it warm all day at work, and people can come a get a little bowlful whenever they like?

If they're into fast food, this Wendy's chili knockoff recipe is good and easy. Also quite low calorie (237 calories per serving).

To go with it, you could also have baked tortilla chips and lots of salsa at the ready for snacking.
posted by dayintoday at 3:37 PM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

hummus and cut veggies are great suggestions.

When I'm working and snacking, I love to have nuts and dry fruit, especially walnuts or almonds with dried cherries.

I would be super excited if someone brought celery or apples and peanut butter into this situation.

Whole-grain bread and various mediterranean things to eat it with (olives, artichoke hearts, feta, roasted red peppers, afore-mentioned hummus.)
posted by juliapangolin at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2013

Maybe some vegetable pasta?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2013

Slaw: Asian or Indian.

Black bean dip and chips.
posted by Riverine at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2013

Popcorn - not microwaved. I pop it on the stovetop in canola oil, add salt, and it still tastes pretty good the next day if it's been in a sealed container. I know people also swear by air poppers (which also might be more office friendly, if you're allowed to pop it on site).

It's probably worth asking first, just in case anyone really hates the smell.
posted by juliplease at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

cut or whole fruit, not canned fruit. Apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, melons, pineapple. If it's cut into a fruit salad it will be eaten. No added sugar, none should be required.
posted by mwhybark at 3:58 PM on December 7, 2013

Roasted chickpeas? This is what pinterest is perfect for: Healthy snacks and keep exploring to get some quick recipes.
posted by viggorlijah at 3:59 PM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

The black bean dip is great, and very low in calories/fat. Two cans black beans drained. One can tomato sauce. Put beans in saucepan, mash up with back of fork. Add the tomato sauce and stir up really well. Add a handful of chili powder, stir up and heat until the chili powder incorporates, usually about five minutes. Add more heat if you want, then throw a large handful of shredded cheddar and stir until cheese melts. Great with tortilla chips.
posted by raisingsand at 4:01 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

A crate of clementines has gone over well at my work where we have the same problem.
posted by valeries at 4:02 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Popcorn. And get one of these to pop it in in the microwave. Pops endless bowls of hot popcorn with no oils at all. If you want to add flavor, add Old Bay seasoning instead of butter and salt. Mmmmm.

Cut veggies (in particular carrots, cabbage, celery, broccoli) and lots of it. Big bowls of it.

Also -- why not ask them? "Hey, we wanted to do foods again for the big project, but we'd like to make it less junkfoody. Can you help us figure out some healthier options?"
posted by anastasiav at 5:16 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Pre-sliced apples wedges! (with lemon juice to keep them from going brown)
posted by aniola at 6:42 PM on December 7, 2013

I also do a white bean dip that's super yummy...

1 can white beans
olive oil (enough to make smooth, maybe 1/68 - 1/4 a cup)
garlic to taste (put through a press)
lemon juice to taste
salt & pepper to taste
parsley (about 1/4 cup)

Throw in blender, and blend.

Then buy some nice pita chips and get some bruschetta at Trader Joe's and you are good to go.
posted by brookeb at 7:02 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

What about fresh spring rolls? They take a little bit of prep, but I think they meet all of your requirements. This page has a nice tutorial. My favorite filling is spring greens, carrots, cukes, cilantro and avocado, but they're super flexible.
posted by Empidonax at 7:02 PM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

light greek salad is a fave work snack of mine - you could easily make a big bowl of it to bring in, and if you leave out the lettuce it will stay crisp and tasty for a long time.

cubed cucumber and tomato, sliced olives, crumbled light feta cheese, fresh basil, and a light italian dressing that you add a bit of the olive brine to.

you only need tell the dieting people that the dressing and feta is "light"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:11 PM on December 7, 2013

Mark Bittman has a good recipe for Spanish-style braised lentils that's easy, healthy, and tastes great hot or cold. That plus some tortilla chips (or, if chips are too calorific, Romaine hearts) would make a great snack that I would cheerily munch on all day.

That reminds me, time to make and freeze another vat of those lentils...
posted by brianogilvie at 7:19 PM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Pasta salad? Potato salad?
posted by trip and a half at 7:47 PM on December 7, 2013

I vote chili for sustenance and fullness, along with a crudite platter for delicious snacking.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:39 AM on December 8, 2013

As someone who likes to eat healthy as well and can completely relate to your colleagues, I second:

roasted chickpeas

I personally don't consider chips and dip (especially things laden with cheese) to be super healthy. It would depend on whether your co-workers are trying to cut down on refined carbs and sugars (a popular thing these days). That would knock chips, pasta salad, potato salad, etc, off the table, if it were me.
posted by la_rousse at 2:38 PM on December 8, 2013

It sounds like this task will take so much time people will need to miss meals while they are at work.

People will be happier and will also be able to do better work if they aren't skipping meals. It's nice to have snacks available but they don't substitute for meals.

If I was the supervisor for a group like that, I'd get menus from a delivery place or send someone to pick up food to go, let everyone know that dinner's on me (even if the business wouldn't pay for it) and make it happen.

If you can't afford that, bring something in that's more meal than snack. Sandwich fixings where everyone can make their own work well. Include options for vegetarians and low carb or gluten free folks. Have both plates and bowls and anyone avoiding bread can have a salad. Avoids awkward discussions about what's on people's diets, and people can quickly prepare something to their own preferences.
posted by yohko at 4:49 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I go to work events frequently where I end up not eating for 7-8 hours at a stretch because the only options are really unhealthy or fatty. So I get where your colleagues are coming from--and the solution is easy: fruit. Don't worry about cooking.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:14 PM on December 8, 2013

Bananas. Cut up vegetable crudités with yogurt-based spinach dip. Clementines. Tiny grape tomatoes if you have a Trader Joe's near you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:20 AM on December 19, 2013

I've read the ingredients labels on some of those "light" dressings. Basically just take a regular dressing and blend in some water.
posted by aniola at 3:58 PM on December 19, 2013

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