30 Classic Comfort Foods Lightened Up
Breakfast pastries, creamy soups, pizza, and apple pie are just a few of the nostalgic, comforting foods we tend to crave when the weather is chilly. Even when nutritional value is on your mind, these 30 healthy twists on decadent recipes prove that it is totally possible to please your palate and satiate comfort-food cravings at the same time.
Forget the food coma that comes after heavy breakfast sandwiches. This homemade hack on the spinach-feta wrap from Starbucks is far more satisfying than any fast-food order. This quick recipe is easy to enjoy on the go and even cook up in advance for a busy morning.
Made with Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk, these lemon raspberry muffins are a tasty way to get some protein without all the fat. Make a batch of these on Sunday to steer clear of the pastry case all week.
French toast is one of those decadent, high-calorie recipes I've saved for a special indulgence — until now. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak's recipe makeover for whole-grain french toast with ricotta cheese offers more than 20 grams of protein with just over 250 calories per generous serving.
Winter is soup season, and even if you're cutting back on dairy, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a hot bowl of comforting soup. This light pumpkin bisque gets its creamy and rich texture from a secret ingredient.
Unlike the greasy Chinese takeout typical of most restaurants, this veggie-packed Paleo "rice" skips the food coma and leaves you feeling satisfied and energized at the end of your meal. The combination of textures and flavors in this comforting Asian-inspired recipe is spot-on, and the blitzed cauliflower easily subs in for rice — you might even trick some picky eaters at your table with this one!
Heavy layers of meat and cup upon cup of cheese go into classic lasagna. This version of the Italian dish starring cauliflower is a guilt-free twist on tradition. The addition of cinnamon in this recipe brings an amazing depth of flavor — without having to rely on any extra unhealthy ingredients.
Mac and Cheese
Nothing screams comfort food more than a good bowl of mac and cheese. This vegan version uses Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, and vegetable broth to create the "cheese" sauce.
This pesto pasta recipe is made without an ounce of milk or cheese. The creaminess comes from fiber-rich avocado, which is also an excellent source of healthy fats that your body needs to feel full and satisfied after a meal.
Rice and Beans
Rice and beans is a typical Mexican meal full of fiber and protein, but if you're watching your carb intake, here's a lighter version made with the oh-so-magical white veggie — cauliflower!
Lighten up your standard mashed potato side with this Paleo-friendly twist on tradition: creamy mashed cauliflower.
Spaghetti With Meat Sauce
This healthier vegetarian version swaps out traditional pasta with spaghetti squash and lentils for ground beef, so it offers more fiber than protein, if you can believe it.
For a version that doesn't compromise flavor or texture — but cuts back on the fat — cook up these baked buffalo wings. After taking one of these spicy, juicy wings for a quick dip in a blue-cheese bath, you'll never go back to the old-fashioned method again. Skip the frying, and pop them in the oven.
Your taste buds deserve a quick trip to the tropics, and this baked coconut shrimp appetizer will get rave reviews. Typically served with a sweet and spicy Asian sauce, this version is paired with something a little creamier and with less sugar. And the dip uses one of the most versatile ingredients a healthy fridge should always have: Greek yogurt.
Satisfy your Mexican fast-food cravings with a quick and delicious homemade burrito bowl you can make at home in less than 10 minutes. A precooked chicken breast, fresh produce, and a few healthy staples are all you need for this nutrient-dense, low-calorie meal.
Chinese Chicken Salad
Colorful, crispy, and packed with nutrition, this lightened-up Asian chicken salad will satisfy your big-chain cravings and keep you full longer. With nearly 20 grams of protein and clocking in just over 230 calories per filling portion, it's a much healthier alternative that will support your goals.
Cutting back on gluten and grains? Try cauliflower pizza crust. Freshly grated cauliflower serves as the base for the creative and delicious crust that you can fold up just like traditional pizza.
If your ultimate comfort food is creamy, rich spinach dip, you need to try this 64-calorie spinach and watercress dip that is high in nutrients and perfect for a football tailgate. Greek yogurt ties everything together for that texture you're craving.
Craving the crisp satisfaction of sweet potato fries without the fat? This baked recipe comes together with minimal prep, and the results are absolutely delicious. With fewer than 155 calories per serving (including the creamy and spicy chipotle-pepper dip!) and lots of vitamin A, these crisp and satisfying sweet potato wedges are perfect to bake up the next time you're jonesing for some french-fried goodness.
Onion Dip With Potato Chips
For a healthier take on classic onion dip, try this lightened-up dip that's made with Greek yogurt. Traditionally served with greasy potato chips, this recipe calls for quick homemade baked chips that weigh in at a fraction of the fat.
Bite into a mouthwatering burger that will help you save over 150 calories. This sweet potato and black bean burger makes use of seasonal ingredients and offers a robust flavor everyone will love. Even better, you can steer clear of fatty condiments when you top your burger with this creamy avocado sauce.
This lower-carb pad thai is a riff on the classic dish that uses spaghetti squash in place of rice noodles. This dish has over 300 percent of your recommended vitamin C and vitamin A for the day, more than 50 percent of your calcium, and over 30 percent of your iron.
Opt for a lower-calorie, just-as-delicious fried chicken alternative that's baked in the oven. Tender, moist, and crunchy on the outside, this oven-fried chicken is a quick meal for one of those nights when you're craving something comforting but refuse to leave the table feeling uncomfortably stuffed.
Green Bean Casserole
Freshen up your casserole with this healthy green bean recipe from Bobby Deen. Panko and parmesan cheese are a healthier and gluten-free revamp of traditional toppings, while fresh mushrooms up the veg factor. Trust us — this lighter riff on the classic casserole is better than the original.
High in protein but low in calories, shrimp is a healthful option for a seafood-loving bunch. This lighter riff on the comforting flavors of traditional scampi takes the gluten and pasta out of the equation and offers a tasty vegetable in its place: spaghetti squash.
We've all been guilty of feasting on spoonfuls of raw cookie dough out of the fridge. Vegan and gluten-free, this chickpea cookie dough is an excellent source of fiber and protein in one sweet, healthy snack. While you shouldn't bake it in the oven, it's a tasty alternative to raw cookie dough.
Chocolate Ice Cream
Creamy, chocolatey, this vegan ice cream requires no ice cream maker and saves you tons of calories because it's completely dairy-free.
Vegan apple and pear crisp is the perfect alternative to traditional apple pie. This recipe is also lower in fat and cholesterol than the traditional dessert, and the addition of pear ups the fiber content.
Chocolate cake cravings are no joke! For a cool afternoon when you want to bake something sweet, try out this low-fat recipe that will satisfy your sweet tooth, thanks to some unexpected ingredients.
These cute frozen four-ingredient cupcakes cut all the unnecessary added sugar out of the picture. Instead, bananas and strawberries bring the natural sweetness you're craving to a guilt-free dessert!