How to Put A Healthy Spin on Your Favorite Comfort Foods
What are your favorite comfort foods? Dishes like mac and cheese, casseroles, quesadillas, or pierogis often remind us of simpler times and make us feel warm and fuzzy when we smell them cooking. But while the foods that give us comfort may not always be the most nutritious, that doesn’t mean you can’t put a healthy spin on your favorite comfort food recipes!
One simple way to add more nutrition to your favorite comfort food dishes is to look for opportunities to mix in extra vegetables. Casseroles are a hearty comfort food that almost always tastes better with the more ingredients you put in it, making diced vegetables a welcome addition to the mix. You can also load up dishes like quesadillas, chicken pot pie, and chili with a range of diced vegetables to boost nutrition and add a vibrant blend of colors and flavors.
Opting for whole grains when cooking is another easy way to make some of your favorite comfort food dishes a little bit healthier. Whole grains have greater nutritional value, containing important nutrients like protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Your classic comfort food recipes may not call for whole grain bread, tortillas, pasta, or flour, but this small switch can have a big impact on your diet!
One more simple swap to consider when preparing your favorite comfort foods is to opt for healthier cooking oils. While cooking with butter may give your foods that rich, homey flavor you love, it isn’t the healthiest option available. Depending on what you’re preparing, you may want to substitute olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil as they will still provide great flavor to your meals and will likely prove to be a healthier option. Air fryers are also a popular kitchen tool that uses substantially less oil, giving you a healthier version of your favorite fried foods.
Use these tips and tricks to enjoy your favorite comfort foods while making healthier eating choices! Speaking of eating: check out our two new comfort food recipes below. Your family won’t believe that they’re loaded with lots of healthy vegetables!
2 Comfort Food Recipes You Might Forget Are Healthy
We wanted to put a healthy spin on two popular comfort foods – mac and cheese and quesadillas – so they still taste rich and delicious while incorporating extra veggies in a fun way. So, without further ado, here are our Roasted Pepper Mac and Cheese and Chicken Quesadilla Casserole recipes!
Roasted Pepper Mac and Cheese
Creamy, cheesy, gooey, mouthwatering–all words we often use to describe classic mac and cheese! Sometimes, a big helping of this indulgent comfort food is just what you need to satisfy a craving or beat the winter blues. And with our Roasted Pepper Mac and Cheese recipe, you can do all this plus feel good about eating a healthier version of your favorite cheat day food!
The secret is in the sauce: we added roasted and pureed Red Bell Peppers to this mac and cheese sauce to give it a deep orange coloring, slightly sweet flavor, and big nutrient boost. Now that is a secret ingredient worth sharing!
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare your Roasted Pepper Mac and Cheese:
- Red Bell Peppers
- Dry elbow macaroni noodles
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Aged white cheddar
- Smoked paprika
- Dijon mustard
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Freshly cracked pepper & coarse salt
Chicken Quesadilla Casserole
We love quesadillas and casseroles, so we thought we’d create the perfect comfort food combo and develop a Chicken Quesadilla Casserole recipe! With layer after layer of all your favorite quesadilla fixings, this dish has all the smells and flavors you crave in a classic quesadilla. We’ve also added a generous helping of fresh vegetables like Cherry Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, corn, and red onions to make this a balanced dinner option.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare your Chicken Quesadilla Casserole:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Bell Peppers (any color)
- Shredded chicken
- Black beans
- Red onions
- Fresh cilantro
- Chili powder
- Cheddar cheese
- Queso fresca
- Green onions
- Salt and pepper
- 12” flour tortillas
- Sour cream or low-fat Greek yogurt
More Comfort Food Recipes & Resources
Looking for more comfort food recipes with a healthy twist? Check these out!
And, if you’re looking for healthier alternatives to your favorite junk foods, check out these 12 tasty (and healthy) swaps!
Share Your Favorite Comfort Food Recipes
These tasty comfort food recipes are the perfect remedy for beating the winter blues while still enjoying a healthy dose of vegetables. Do you have a signature comfort food recipe that incorporates vegetables in a fun way? Send it to us for the chance to be featured on our Recipes page!