Whoo-weee it’s gettin’ pretty chilly here in Chicago. The temps are dropping, the days are shorter and the bitter cold winter season is almost here.

And while I generally don’t love when the weather takes an icy nose-dive, there is one thing I always look forward to this time of year…

…COMFORT FOOD.

Like most people, I crave rich foods that’ll warm me up and stick to my ribs…things like: Mac n’ “Cheese”, Mashed Potatoes, Loaded Casseroles and POT PIES…smothered in GRAVY!

Drooling yet? I am!

Polentil Mushroom Pot Pies

Now, you might be thinking, “Aren’t these foods unhealthy, though?”

And in most cases, you’d be right. Because let’s face it, comfort foods are usually heavy, high in calories, nutritionally void and loaded with refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, earning themselves a bad rep in the health community.

But here’s the thing…everything can be healthified (remember…my Swap It, Don’t Drop It strategy?!). All you need to do is *tweak* a few ingredients.

That’s exactly what I did when I created this Polentil Mushroom Pot Pie recipe last year for an episode of Nourished.

I swapped pie crust for low-carb polenta (creating a crispy, creamy-textured topping that’s rich in vitamins A and C), replaced a traditional cream and butter-based sauce with my dairy-free vegan gravyand I kept the filling hearty and high in protein by using a mixture of lentils, mushrooms and walnuts.

It’s cozy comfort food that’ll conquer your cravings without the guilt. How comforting is that?

Polentil Mushroom Pot Pies

Ingredients:

For the Mushroom, Lentil & Walnut Mixture:

  • 2 packages mushrooms, chopped
  • ¼ yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups cooked lentils
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Polenta:

  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt to taste

Top with Vegan Gravy

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook and stir until mushrooms are soft and lightly browned.
  2. In a large bowl, combine lentils, walnuts, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Start on polenta. Bring vegetable broth and water to boil. Add salt and oregano. Slowly pour in polenta and continuously whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Spray ramekins with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Spoon one layer of the lentil and walnut mixture into the ramekin and top with a layer of the mushroom mixture.
  5. Then top with your creamy polenta. Note: polenta can be piped on top or simply scooped on top.
  6. Broil for 5-8 minutes until polenta is browned and crisp on the top.

I love this recipe, but if you’re looking for a more classical take on a healthified pot pie, swap the shrooms and lentils for vegetables like carrots, corn, potatoes, green beans and/or peas.

Now it’s question time…do you ever healthify your favorite comfort foods? If so, what are they and how do you do it? Spill your secrets in the comments below! 😉

And of course, if you try this recipe, I’d love to hear whatcha think!

Stay warm & cozy!

xo

Vicki