On a cold winter’s night, there’s nothing better than cozying up with a warm blanket, a good movie and a hearty helping of your favorite comfort food. Be it a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese or a steamy serving of chicken pot pie, these satisfying dishes are good for your soul, but not so good for your waistline.
With a few simple ingredient swaps, you can make lighter versions of your favorite foods without compromising on flavor. Here are five comfort food favorites that will warm you up without weighing you down.
Macaroni and Cheese
Nothing compares to the warm, gooey goodness that is macaroni and cheese. A favorite of children and adults alike, this delicious dish will please even the pickiest of eaters.
With ingredients like butter, cream, noodles and cheese, the only thing not to love about macaroni and cheese is its high calorie and fat content. However, you can still enjoy this savory meal without placing your health on the backburner.
This simple recipe uses healthier ingredients like quinoa and butternut squash. If you’re looking for a way to lighten your favorite boxed recipe, swap the butter and milk for half of a cup of Greek yogurt. This will decrease fat and increase protein. Throw in some yummy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, tomatoes or kale for even more nutritional value.
Chicken Pot Pie
With its golden crust, tender chunks of chicken and warm filling, chicken pot pie has all the makings of a classic comfort food. Although delicious, a store-bought pie can have upwards of 700 calories in a single serving.
With a few modifications, you can still enjoy all the savory flavor of chicken pot pie without significant damage to your diet. For a healthier pie that saves both calories and time, try these mini chicken pot pies. This recipe uses filo dough instead of a traditional, homemade crust to cut prep time and calories in half. Additionally, using muffin tins to make the pies smaller, making it much easier to control portion sizes.
Thanks to the invention of the slow cooker, even the least experienced chef can easily make a batch of chili. An incredibly versatile dish, chili recipes can be tailored to please any palate.
For a lighter alternative to traditional ground beef chili, try this healthy turkey chili recipe. The lean ground turkey combined with a variety of vegetables makes for a healthy and flavorful dish that’s high in protein and low in fat.
For a delicious and nutritious vegetable chili, try this sweet potato and black bean quinoa chili. To top it all off, replace sour cream with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for double the protein and half the fat.
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High in carbohydrates and low in nutritional value, pasta is hardly considered a healthy food. Luckily, there are replacements for this favorite food. Ever heard of the zoodle?
A combination between the words “zucchini” and “noodle”, these thinly sliced strips of zucchini are becoming increasingly popular as a healthy alternative to pasta. In addition to zucchini, many vegetables like squash, eggplant and carrots can also be used as noodle substitutes to decrease calories, fat and carbohydrates in your favorite dishes. Try this easy recipe for “zusketti,” spaghetti made with zoodles, to get started.
For all the flavor of traditional lasagna without the noodles, try this low-carb zucchini lasagna from Slender Kitchen. For a lighter take on classic fettuccine Alfredo, simply use vegetable noodles instead of pasta and top with your favorite Alfredo sauce.
For those of us with a serious sweet tooth, comfort food often means dessert. And there’s no better dessert to combat a cold winter’s night than a warm, fudgy brownie.
This gluten-free brownie recipe from the Minimalist Baker uses black beans to achieve the perfect gooey consistency without the flour, oil or eggs.
To lighten boxed brownies, Prevention suggests replacing oil with healthier alternatives like canned pumpkin, applesauce or even avocado. These simple ingredient swaps will save calories so you don’t have to feel guilty about going back for seconds… or thirds.
What’s your favorite comfort food recipe? Got any tricks to make it healthier? Comment to tell us!