Comfort foods are those that make us feel warm and content, and often remind us of foods we had when we were growing up. Sadly enough, a lot of comfort food isn’t all that healthy for us. Don’t despair, though — we have great news! These recipes take our favorite comfort foods and give them a healthy twist. Take a look to see how you can make some of your cherished comfort foods even better.
Cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes
Comfort food doesn’t get much better than mashed potatoes, but let’s face it — white potatoes are carb-laden, and once you add tons of butter and salt, it’s not exactly a healthy dish. Instead of using 100 percent regular potatoes, try this delish recipe for cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes that subs out some of the potatoes for cauliflower instead. Cauliflower florets cook up easily alongside potatoes in a pot of salted water, and while that’s bubbling away, you’ll create a wonderful addition complete with Swiss chard, leeks, garlic, cream and butter. Once your cauliflower and potato mixture is mashed up to perfection, stir in your Swiss chard mix and you’ll have a more nutritious version of an age-old favorite.
Loaded sweet potato nachos
Nachos are always a load of fun, but they’re definitely not the healthiest choice out there. Instead of chips heaped with cheese and meat, we’ve found a really delish substitute which is this recipe for loaded sweet potato nachos from Cake ‘n Knife. Check this out — instead of regular chips, we’re going to slice sweet potatoes and make “chips” out of those. Yes, really! While you’ll take a little bit of time baking your chips, just know that it will really be worth it in the end. You’ll also add some black beans, cheese, green pepper and jalapeño for some extra nutrition and zing, and top with some seasoned sour cream. You’ll never go back to “regular” nachos again.
Brownies are a really tasty indulgence, but it’s no surprise that this dessert-y comfort food doesn’t do your body a whole lot of good. Enter this recipe for avocado brownies from Fake Ginger. It may sound a little bizarre, but the texture of avocado blends perfectly in this recipe and adds some delectable healthy fats to your diet. The texture is the same as you’ll find in a regular brownie, and with a little extra attention, as you blend the avocado with sugar (so you don’t find a stray chunk of avocado while you’re noshing away), you’ll have a pan of deliciousness before you know it.
Paleo may be a bit of a buzzword, but when you find it in a recipe, you’ll know that there won’t be an extra ton of stuff that you really didn’t need anyway. That’s true for this paleo meatloaf recipe from Fake Ginger. It includes ground beef, of course, and adds just a few other ingredients, including bacon, almond flour, onion and eggs (and some garlic, of course). There really isn’t much mystery to this recipe, but it’s notable because it doesn’t use the same filler ingredients that traditional meatloaf often uses. Thankfully, it’s a healthier version of that age-old favorite you’ve always loved.
Healthy oatmeal raisin cookies
Homemade cookies are comfort food to many of us and, of course, they’re just a treat — but these treats are generally not healthy. Fortunately, we’ve found a great recipe for healthy oatmeal raisin cookies over at Foolproof Living. We’re serious, too — these babies are low-fat, vegan, gluten-free and refined-sugar-free. You won’t be missing out, though. Ground flaxseeds and chia seeds stand in for eggs; maple syrup, bananas and raisins provide sweetness; and avocado oil stands in for butter. It takes just a little more than half an hour to prep and cook, so you’ll be able to enjoy and share these unique (and healthy) cookies before you know it.
Low-carb cauliflower risotto
Cauliflower makes another appearance in this recipe, which is jam-packed with vegetables in every spoonful. Jessica Gavin developed a low-carb cauliflower risotto, which substitutes cauliflower for the rice and adds in veggies like zucchini, green peas and asparagus. There is even better news — unlike traditional risotto dishes, this only takes about 30 minutes from prep to plating, and it’s so good you may never make a “regular” risotto again. You can make your own cauliflower “rice,” but if you’re crunched for time, there are several stores that have it bagged and ready for you, including Trader Joe’s and Aldi.
Cheesy cauliflower tots
More cauliflower! We told you it’s an extremely versatile vegetable and stands in for a bevy of ingredients that you often find in your favorite comfort foods. We know you probably love tater tots, so get ready to be wowed — these easy cheesy cauliflower tots, from Jo Cook,s are not only healthier, but they might just taste way better as well. You’ll use riced cauliflower again and add a couple of different types of cheese (mozzarella and cheddar, of course), plus garlic, Italian seasoning and eggs. The eggs are what will bind your tots together so they’ll keep their shape as they bake in your oven. These pair great with just about any favorite dip, or enjoy them on their own.
Shrimp fajita quinoa bowls
Comfort food comes in many forms, and we’re here to tell you that this recipe from Lemon Tree Dwelling, shrimp fajita quinoa bowls, may become one of your absolute favorites. You’ll use quinoa, which is an excellent all-purpose grain that provides a ton of complete protein, as a bed for fajitas. The recipe calls for yellow pepper, red pepper, onions and cooked shrimp, along with black beans and sliced avocado (and a few seasonings, too). Are you hungry yet? This meal is so simple to prepare and packs a lot of nutritious goodness in every bite. Add this dish to your regular dinner rotation and watch it become a fast favorite.
Healthy fettuccine Alfredo
When you picture fettuccine Alfredo, you probably imagine heaps of noodles topped with a creamy, cheesy sauce. Tasty and comforting, but not exactly a super-healthy meal. Guess what? Pinch of Yum has developed an Alfredo sauce that is made with cauliflower for their healthy fettuccine alfredo recipe. Surprise! Instead of oodles of heavy cream and butter, you have vegetables, and that’s amazing. You’ll use regular fettuccine noodles, but if you can, maybe look around for different varieties, such as noodles made with the addition of spinach or sweet potatoes. Either way, you’re getting a blast of veggies with this dish, and it doesn’t take a ton of time to prepare.
Crispy Parmesan potato bits
Queen of My Kitchen knows that potatoes are king, and French fries are the next step on the ladder to potato heaven. When you roll through a drive-through and grab a medium fries, though, you’re loading up on refined oil that’s likely terrible for your health. Instead, she gives us this fantastic recipe for crispy Parmesan potato bits that avoids the pitfalls of fast food and provides a little potato bit with a crispy crust. You won’t even miss “regular” fries after you’ve tried these. As a bonus, you don’t even need to peel your potatoes. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, you can say goodbye to fries forever.
Tomato basil chicken pasta
Pasta dishes are often cited as a favorite comfort food, right? Well, this glorious tomato basil chicken pasta dish, from Tastes Better From Scratch, not only checks that box, but it’s full of healthy ingredients and takes very little time to prepare. Spaghetti, chicken, garlic, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan cheese will make this dinner totally rock. The amazing amounts of tomatoes and basil mean there is no need for jarred pasta sauce. You really won’t miss it, either. If you’re rushed for time or the daily grind has you worn down, consider adding this pasta dish to your weekly menu. You’ll be glad you did.
Comfort food is, well, comforting. However, the fat-laden meals of our youth don’t do us any favors in adulthood, but it may seem difficult to steer away from comfort foods, especially when the holidays roll around or the weather turns cold. These healthy comfort food recipes will help you swap out some of your old favorites and add in some new ones.