We generally don’t think of comfort food and healthy meals in the same sentence. Or on the same table for that matter. The Chew’s Chef Carla Hall sums it up perfectly, “Comfort food is about emotions and the soul. When we eat gooey, starchy, sugary dishes, we feel like we’re treating ourselves. The comfort goes to our taste buds, but the satisfaction goes to our soul.” And we can’t deny our souls when they’re hungry!
Moderation is always key and if you prepare your favorite comfort food recipes at home — with fresh, healthy ingredients and a little love — those guilty pleasure can be great healthy meals.
1. Baked Mac & Cheese
No list of comfort food recipes is complete without mac and cheese. Believe it or not, it is possible to make healthy meals out of pasta and cheese. A combo of low-fat cottage cheese and sharp cheddar give you all of the gooeyness with half the fat. Whole wheat macaroni and a layer of spinach in the middle make this a well-rounded, satisfying dish.
2. Crispy Baked ‘Fried’ Chicken
Cat Cora’s Baked ‘Fried’ Chicken has all of the flavor of authentic, Southern fried chicken with a fraction of the fat. It’s all about the crunchy, spicy breading made with cornflakes, buttermilk, dijon mustard and cayenne pepper.
3. ‘Frito’ Chili Pie
Usually just daydreaming about this portable snack is enough to make you gain five pounds. This version courtesy of Good Housekeeping has all of your favorite ingredients but uses lean ground beef, low-fat cheddar and substitutes baked corn tortillas for Fritos.
4. Healthified Kale & Portobello Lasagna
Portobello mushrooms add a hearty, meaty flavor to this super healthy veggie lasagna. Kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals and all of the cheese is part-skim for a nutritious family dinner.
5. Chili Lime Taro Fries
Baked taro fries have all of the crunchy starchy satisfaction of the potato version but taro has tons more fiber and a lower glycemic index. Add ancho chili powder and fresh lime juice for a crowd-pleasing treat.
6. Pozole Verde: Pork, Hominy & Vegetable Stew
This mouthwatering stew has it all: pork, chicken, hominy, avocado and tomatillos for a zesty, flavorful and totally filling cool weather dish.
7. Cauliflower Pizza with Greek Yogurt Pesto & Grilled Veggies
It’s a low-carb, low-fat pizza made almost entirely of vegetables! A cauliflower crust topped with zucchini, tomato and Greek yogurt pesto adds protein in addition to garlicky, basil goodness.
8. Ellie Krieger’s Double Chocolate Brownies
These killer brownies are made with low-fat yogurt, whole grain flour and healthy dark chocolate. Each one only has 160 calories and 9g of fat.
9. Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf
Peruvian-inspired gluten-free turkey meatloaf seasoned with jalapeño, cumin and basil is sure to become your family’s new favorite meal.
10. Oven Baked Chicken & Waffles
This healthy version of fried chicken and waffles will actually give you energy to power through the day rather than putting you into a post-brunch carbo-load daze. The waffles are made with banana, unsweetened applesauce and whole wheat flower.
11. Healthy Spaghetti & Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs are a perennial kid favorite. Tofu and grated onion are the two key ingredients that give these lean turkey or chicken meatballs all of the flavor and texture of fattier beef. Your kids will never know the difference!
13. Cheddar-Stuffed Burgers
Ground bison or lean ground beef stuffed with reduced fat cheese and served on an English muffin with all of the fixin’s.
14. Frozen Yogurt Sundae with Bananas & Chocolate Sauce
So easy, so decadent and so good for you!
15. Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella
Instead of layers of fried, breaded eggplant, this recipe uses halved eggplants that are covered with sauce and mozzarella, then breaded and baked. Sold!
Photos 2, 4 & 8 courtesy of Food Network.com