Vegan “Kid Food” — Beating the Comfort Food Craving

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Do you ever find yourself craving “little kid” comfort food, despite knowing how horribly bad it is for you?  (And, of course, how not-vegan most of it is?)

You know the kinds of foods I’m talking about.  Warm, gooey things like a certain cheesy dinner that comes in a blue box.  Fluffy mashed potatoes with too much butter.  That creepy blue frosting on your friend’s birthday cake that made your teeth dance in your head.

Of course, I’d never eat that sort of thing now, but every once and a while I find myself getting nostalgic for the kinds of foods that can only be described as goopy.

All I can say is, thank goodness for vegan cheese sauce (and the Forks Over Knives cookbook)!

broccoli rice casserole

Meet Broccoli Rice Casserole.  Before you ask, yes, it is as easy as it sounds.  Broccoli plus rice plus a nootch-based “cheese” sauce that takes about two minutes to whip up in a blender or Magic Bullet equals warm and satisfying awesome.

Not surprisingly, it takes longer to cook the rice and bake the casserole than it does to put the whole thing together.  All this lovely little pan of warm, cheesy goodness requires is a bit of chopping for the broccoli and sauce ingredients, a couple minutes of steaming and a little stirring.  Then you just stick it in the oven and boom!  Instant nostalgia.

 

Except I can’t really say I ever ate anything quite like this when I was a kid.  Boy, do I wish I had!  It gets just a little crispy on the top and around the edges while its baking, which for some reason doesn’t make it stick to the dish even though the recipe doesn’t require any kind of greasing or lining.  That crunch is something I personally associate with comfort food, too–which is probably why I used to love pan-fried noodles and the edges of lasagna.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use it as a template for pretty much anything that tastes good with rice and a cheesy sauce.  Black beans and salsa comes to mind, or anything with a Mexican flair.  Spinach and mushrooms would be great, too.  Whatever your inner child happens to be craving, you could toss into this casserole.

I added a few chickpeas for extra protein and calories, which worked out just fine.  White beans would probably be good, or even cubes of lightly browned tempeh.  As I said, the whole thing is pretty free-form!

broccoli rice casserole with salad
despite being completely healthy.  Whole grains and veggies with no oil, no artificial anything and no refined anything…and yet it’s just the right kind of dish to zap those pesky kid food cravings.  It’s warm, cheesy and just a bit crunchy.  What’s not to love?

What food(s) do you associate with childhood?  Do you still eat vegan versions of them?

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About the Author:

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as part of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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