Comfort food can be healthy food.

If we are all honest, comfort food is often not something that should be a continual part of our daily diet.

I have always been a bit partial to a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Chew Chew ice cream. By a tub I mean one of the 500ml tubs and I also mean downing it at one sitting. and with no help from others. Come near my tub and you risk losing your fingers.

Scotch eggs, sausages rolls, fish and chips and the list goes on. Now life would be sad without these things every now and then and I can probably still get away with the full tub of ice cream every now and then.

Portion size also tends to be an important part of enjoying comfort food.

However if we stick to these obvious things we forget some of those dishes that provide real comfort and can be both healthy and tasty. These are the dishes of your childhood; hard days on a budget when you are first working or a student. If you have a think, now, and make a list I am sure you will come up with your own list.

My list for the last couple of days is as follows:

1. Baked Potato with Chilli Con Carne on top.

Now I tend to use stewing beef these days for my chilli and I did this time. I did stick to my current aim of reducing the meat we eat. So this chilli for up to four people only used 300g of lean stewing beef.

It was topped up with mushrooms, roasted peppers, onions, tinned tomatoes and, of course, kidney beans.

All that was needed was a well baked potato. You can do these in the microwave of course but given the time I prefer them oven baked having been sprayed with low calorie oil and with salt rubbed into the skin. You cannot beat the rich crisp skin you get at the end and as I use no salt in my cooking I can allow myself the salt tang that goes with this.

Of course there was not butter on the potato but you know what, I didn’t miss it and it didn’t need it when it had a huge wallop of chilli plopped on top. You can play spot the potato now.

The added bonus is there was chilli left of for another day (the sequel will follow next, so no need to wait).

2. Jalapeño and Spinach Omlette, stuffed with left over chilli.

This one is exactly what it says on the tin and made a superb lunch. The omelette I have shared before on Facebook. It is just a three egg one, seasoned with black pepper. Once it is cooking in the pan I add the chopped jalapeño pepper and chopped baby spinach leaves (these cook down as the omelette cooks). I had plenty of spinach because I love it.

I zapped the left over chilli in the microwave and just before the omelette was cooked dolloped it in the middle and folded over the omelette. The only thing that would have improved this was a pile of salad and some air fried chips. However it was more than enough for a full lunch.

3. And finally Cottage Pie.

Shepherds Pie or Cottage Pie are a must for most homes and today was no exception. Cottage Pie (with beef rather than the lamb of Shepherds Pie) was on the menu. Again the meat content was reduced using 250g of lean beef mince.

Added to softened fine chopped onions and browned, padded out with a pile of frozen mixed veg (supermarket own brand) and given a tang with a healthy slop of Worcestershire Sauce a perfect mix developed. Knowing that Reuben, my youngest son, is not a fan of tomato in anything I went to his comfort zone and added a little naughtiness in the shape of two tablespoons of gravy granules and then water to make a thick gravy and finished off with a pile of chopped mushrooms.

The topping has to be mashed potato, mixed with no fat Creme fraiche, seasoned with black pepper and then sprinkled with some squirts of butter low calorie spray.

Finished off in a hot oven to crisp the top and and balanced with some lightly boil broccoli, where can you go wrong.

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