45 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

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Monique Nelson

Founder at Choose to Cook
Monique Nelson is the founder, chief organizer and editor at Choose To Cook, and is highly motivated to help people of the world take charge of their health through simple and delicious nutritional changes.
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Fall is all around me right now, and nowhere more so that the internet! I swear, it’s pumpkin spice this, and fall decor that, and warm up with everything! I don’t know about you, but when I think of fall, I think of comfort food. Hot, filling, savory and delicious foods from my childhood. I recently had the incredible idea to ask some of my favorite recipe developers and food bloggers to share their upgraded healthy comfort food recipes – you know, those foods that conjure up images of fireplaces, family, and all-around happiness, only healthi-fied! What resulted was this incredible list of 45 mouthwatering delights for you to taste test at will. You can eat one a day with little to no feelings of guilt because they are actually HEALTHY! And most are relatively easy, as well.

Before we get right into the healthy comfort food recipes, I wanted to share some ideas that will help you take any classic comfort food in your life, and healthify it yourself.

Add Some “Health” To Your Favorite Comfort Food Recipes

When you decide to make a meal from scratch, you are starting off on a very solid foundation if you use whole foods and avoid anything processed. Cooking at home doesn’t always mean “from scratch”, but the first and most important step to increasing the health value of your comfort food recipes is to skip the processed, boxed mac and cheese and use real, whole ingredients.

Beyond that, there are two additional basic steps you can take to add some “health” to your favorite recipes:

  1. Add healthy ingredients
    • You can rarely go wrong adding vegetables to your meals, both for extra flavor and for added nutritional value.
      • Add pureed cauliflower to your mashed potatoes
      • Add pureed anything to your pasta sauce
      • Tomatoes in Macaroni & Cheese is phenomenal
      • Chopped up pepper BELONG in everything
      • Saute some pineapple and onions and add as toppings to your perogies (trust me!)
    • Fresh herbs  can bring so much to a meal – flavor, aesthetics, aroma and, you’ve got it, health!
      • Basil pairs really well with sweet flavors and I love to add it to a strawberry banana smoothie
      • Rosemary is my favorite addition to pasta sauces
      • Cilantro and parsley are great edible garnishes that add a surprising burst of brightness and nutrition
    • Spices are sadly underutilized but can be incredibly healthy (and delicious!). Some of the most popular natural health treatments hinge on the use of spices.
      • Cardamom and cumin are major players in Indian food dishes like curries
      • Allspice, you may or may not know, is NOT a combination of a variety of spices (like Chinese 5 spice, for example), but is actually a berry of an evergreen tree and has a delightful that is popular in baked goods, and sweet savory dishes like pumpkin and sweet potatoes
      • Cayenne Pepper (warning: a little bit goes a long way) is my personal go-to spice, as I like to add a little heat to just about all my cooking! The Global Healing Center has a great post outlining 17 Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper, if you’d like to find out more about it.
    • NOTE: If you are like me and don’t really know the difference between an herb and a spice, here’s a post from The Kitchn that will help you figure it all out: Herbs vs. Spices: What’s the Difference?
  2. Substitute Worst Offenders
healthy-ingredient-substitutes_thefoodcop
Check out even more healthy ingredient swaps from TheFoodCop!
  • NOTE: Your definition of worst offender may differ from mine, depending on your preferred eating plan, but I am going with Meat, Dairy, Butter, Eggs and Gluten as they are the most commonly requested substitutions
    • Meat
      • If it’s protein you’re after, some great substitutions include tofu, tempeh, or plant-based meat alternatives, like veggie dogs, or bean burgers
    • Dairy
      • It turns out, it is fairly simple to make DIY dairy free cheese. I don’t have any o my own recipes up quite yet, but you can check out my dedicated Dairy Alternative Pinterest Board for some great recipes!
      • I think most people are fairly familiar with “milk” alternatives these dyas, but the big players generally include: Soy, Almond, Coconut, or Rice milks, with Hemp and Cashew coming up strong in popularity!
      • Creamy sauces are actually surprising easy to make without using actual cream! I have pureed potatoes with cauliflower and spices of choice, or beans (pinto or chickpea are my favorites), or soaked some cashews/walnuts/almonds and pureed them for the most delightfully creamy sauces!
    • Butter
      • The easy “Vegan” alternative is Earth Balance Buttery Spread
      • For cooking, you can use a small amount of a “healthy” oil instead, such as EVOO, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, etc. While still high in fats, at least they bring a host of extra nutrition to your cooking.
      • For even healthier options, you can generally replace the butter (or oil) in most baking with applesauce!
    •  Eggs
      • For baking, a flax egg is a pretty easy swap that works really well
      • Items like meringue, I’ve been told, can be made easily with Aquafaba (water from cans of beans!), though I haven’t tried it myself
      • For breakfast…Tofu scrambles are pretty darn tasty, and I even go to a local restaurant that makes a Vegan “Bennie” by using sprouted lentils instead of eggs and it is DIVINE!
    • Gluten
      • This is not my area of expertise, but just about everything made with flour these days comes with Gluten Free options, generally made from rice or quinoa, or some other non-gluten containing source
    • For more healthier swap ideas, you might want to check out this great post from The Food Cop: Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you have a fairly good idea on how to remake your own recipes, let’s get into some of the suggestions from the incredibly talented community of Choose To Cook Contributors.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

As I was putting together this MASSIVE round-up, I learned something very interesting about myself: I really like comfort foods! I have done quite a few round-ups on the site now, and this is the first time I have featured recipes of my own, developed and photographed specifically for Choose To Cook (and my own eating pleasure, of course!). So sprinkled throughout, you will see some dishes made by yours truly!

In the past, I have added some commentary to each recipe, but because this is such a huge list, I have opted to just let the recipes speak for themselves! There are still photos to get your mouth watering for each and every healthy comfort food recipes shared in this list, and I hope you enjoy many of them in the days, weeks, or months to come!

Breakfasts

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes with Almond Date Sauce from Phruitful Dish

Every Day Oatmeal from Choose To Cook

Condiments, Dips, Dressings and Sauces

How to Make a Healthy Homemade Heinz Tomato Ketchup in a Soup Maker by RecipeThis

Dairy Free Paleo Inspired Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread by RecipeThis

3 Minute Paleo Friendly Alioli by RecipeThis

Cashew Kale Avocado Pesto from Choose To Cook

Sweet and Spicy Easy Peanut Sauce Recipe from Choose To Cook

Sugar Free Red Pasta Sauce from My Sugar Free Journey

Snacks and Appetizers

Sweet Potato Chips with Avocado Dip from Phruitful Dish

Hot and Savory Kale Chips from Choose To Cook

Baked Jalapeno Poppers from Simple and Savory

Veggie Potato Nachos from Simple and Savory

Baked Chicken Tenders from Eat. Thrive. Glow.

Side Dishes and Sandwiches

Sneaky Healthy Sloppy Joe Recipe from Kids Creative Chaos

The Ultimate Vegan BLT from Strength and Sunshine

Mashed Cauliflower Recipe from Grocery Shop for Free

Beetroot Risotto from Strength and Sunshine

Loaded Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Bacon from Easy Cooking with Molly

Soups and Stews

Thai Red Curry Soup (Guest Recipe) from Choose to Cook

Smoked Sweet Potato Soup with Cabbage and Dill Roasted Cauliflower and Potatoes from Choose to Cook

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew from Pressure Cook Recipes

Main Dishes

Slow Cooker Creamy Chickpea Curry from New Growth Wellness with Dani

Gluten Free Pasta with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce from Thai and Tattoos

Polenta with Creamy Artichoke Pesto from Veggie Chick

One Pot Vegan Mac & Cheese from Strength and Sunshine

Healthier Penne alla Vodka from She Rocks the Suburbs

Super Healthy Shepherd’s Pie from Healthy Eaton

Gourmet Lazy Cabbage Rolls from Choose To Cook

Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie from Wanderlust and Wellness

Chicken Stroganoff from Simple and Savory

20 Minute Easy Chicken Biryani with Cauliflower Rice from RecipeThis

Low Carb Chicken Alfredo from Grocery Shop for Free

5 Ingredients Zucchini Roll  Ups from Easy Cooking with Molly

Skinny Cajun Style Shrimp and Grits from The Foodie and the Fix

21 Day Fix Broccoli Cheese Soup from The Foodie and the Fix

21 Day Fix Broccoli Mac and Cheese from The Foodie and the Fix

Cedar Plank Salmon and Spaghetti Squash from All She Cooks

Baked Spaghetti Recipe Ground Beef from All She Cooks

Easy One Pot Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese from Pressure Cook Recipes

Crispy Pressure Cooker Chicken with Easy Homemade Chicken Gravy from Pressure Cook Recipes

Desserts

Jumbo Dark Chocolate Tart from Healthy Eaton

Avocado Chocolate Pudding from Healthy Eaton

Spelt and Buckwheat Banana Bread from The Worktop

Super Moist and Healthy Carrot Cake from This Girl’s Recipes

Lemon Coconut Bars from Eat. Thrive. Glow.

 

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Post Author: Monique Nelson

Monique Nelson is the founder, chief organizer and editor at Choose To Cook, and is highly motivated to help people of the world take charge of their health through simple and delicious nutritional changes.

2 thoughts on “45 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

    Imaobong

    (October 17, 2016 - 6:33 pm)

    So many awesome options to choose from 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this packed post, I’m bookmarking this page right now!

      Monique Nelson

      (October 17, 2016 - 6:59 pm)

      I’m so glad you like it 🙂 I love me some comfort foods…especially at this time of year (or always!). It helps to know that when you’re indulging, you can actually do something good for your health at the same time!

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