17 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes You’ll Crave

Craving comfort food, but also want to stick to your health goals? Try these healthy comfort food recipes for a lighter spin on all your favorite classics.

Ahhh it’s that time of the year isn’t it? If you’re anything like me, you go into hibernation mode and crave warm, cozy food… comfort food all winter long.

A healthy spin on a comfort food classic, these spaghetti squash tuna casserole boats are filled with loads of creamy noodle goodness. Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and paleo!

Making Comfort Food Healthy

What is comfort food? And what makes it unhealthy/healthy?

Comfort food is really anything that brings you comfort! It might be a meal from your childhood or it might be a cultural meal that reminds you of “home.” Typically, comfort food dishes are heavier meals made with meat, cream, cheese, etc.

To lighten them up, you can make swaps and switch out a variety of ingredients. The key for all of my upgraded comfort food recipes? They have to taste similar (or better) than the original meal! If they taste too “healthy” they simply won’t satisfy a craving for the classic dish.

Baked eggplant pizza slices on a sheet pan.

Easy Ingredient Swaps

When tweaking recipes to make them a bit healthier, I have an arsenal of go-to swaps. Here are a few that I use often:

  • Cauliflower and/or Cauliflower Rice – Have a dish that uses rice or potatoes? Cauliflower is a great, low-carb, low-calorie swap! You can use it so many different ways — fried “rice,” as a pizza crust or even mashed “potatoes!” There’s a reason this ingredient has a cult following.
  • Pumpkin puree – Did you know you can substitute pumpkin puree in place of flour, oil and eggs in boxed baked goods? Yep! It seems kind of like magic, but the end result is a super moist, delicious baked good. I even use it in my healthy apple muffins.
  • Spaghetti squash and zoodles – Instead of traditional pasta, use spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles! These veggie noodles add fiber and flavor without the empty calories that come with traditional pasta. Learn the best way to cook spaghetti squash here.
  • Leaner meat – Use leaner meat like chicken or turkey in place of beef in traditional recipes. Bet you won’t even notice the difference!
  • Beans – Beans can easily be swapped for meat in most recipes to make them vegetarian. Beans add a good amount of protein and fiber to a dish and they’re low in cholesterol. Another fun way to incorporate beans is to buy legume-based pasta which has more fiber and protein than traditional pasta.
  • Tofu – I love using firm tofu in place of meat or cheese for savory dishes, but silken tofu works great as a sub for dairy in pies too. I use it in my vegan pumpkin pie!

Healthy Comfort Food Swaps

For this post, I thought of as many traditional comfort foods as I could and then linked my swap for the healthy version. Did I miss one of your faves? I would love to recreate it! Leave me a comment and I’ll get recipe testing. 🙂

Wooden spoon stirring a pan of healthy mushroom stroganoff pasta.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

Beef Stroganoff –  Instead of feeling super heavy and full after a bowl of traditional stroganoff, try my mushroom stroganoff! Instead of egg noodles, a heavy cream sauce and beef, I created a recipe with high protein noodles, a creamy coconut sauce and mushrooms!

Spaghetti and Meatballs – If you’re craving spaghetti and meatballs you HAVE to try my popeye turkey meatballs served over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash with marinara sauce. Prep the meatballs in advance and you have the easiest.dinner.ever.

Macaroni & Cheese – Before you run away because there are green things in this mac and cheese… know that you can skip the greens or serve them on the side if you are dealing with a really picky eater! This recipe for healthy mac and cheese is packed with protein and a major upgrade from traditional macaroni.

Meatloaf – Did anyone not grow up eating meatloaf? Didn’t think so. This lentil loaf is one of my most popular recipes on EBF and for good reason! It’s packed with flavor and topped with a maple glaze. Mmm!

Baked Ziti – All forms of pasta are considered comfort food in my book. Instead of making traditional baked ziti, try this turkey cauliflower baked ziti! It’s just as good as the traditional version but low-carb, gluten-free and packed with vegetables!

Broccoli quinoa casserole with cheddar cheese on a large wooden spoon.

Burger and Fries – You’re going to have to trust me on this one: tempeh burgers paired with sweet potato fries, zucchini fries, butternut squash fries, turnip fries or jicama fries. So many fry options! The vegan burger holds together super well and is delicious straight off the grill.

Tuna Noodle Casserole – Who else grew up on tuna noodle casserole? I took a fun spin on this classic recipe by making spaghetti squash tuna noodle casserole boats. Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and paleo!

Pizza – This eggplant pizza uses sliced eggplant instead of a carb-heavy breaded crust. Tons of flavor and super simple to assemble, this recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

Lasagna – Low carb, healthy lasagna made with zucchini noodles and tofu. Do I have your attention? This vegetarian zucchini lasagna is packed with protein and loaded with Italian flavor!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole – This version of cheesy broccoli casserole has protein-packed quinoa instead of instant rice, freshly grated cheddar cheese and a homemade sauce instead of canned soup.

Mashed Potatoes – Swap cauliflower for potatoes in my mashed cauliflower. You’ll save half the calories and 1/3 of the carbs! #worthit

Zucchini boats filled with ground turkey, black beans, tomatoes, and avocado.

Tacos – Try this fun take on tacos… taco zucchini boats! Instead of being served on tortillas, they’re served in zucchini boats. There’s no dairy but shhh no one will notice with all of the flavor packed into this meal! Another option when you’re craving tacos? My turkey taco salad or tempeh taco salad. Both options are so yummy!

Enchiladas – This sweet potato enchilada bake is my go-to meal for anyone I’m cooking for. New baby, surgery, you name it! You’re getting this bake. It’s a fan favorite and the perfect swap for traditional enchiladas!

Fried Rice – If fried rice isn’t on your comfort food list, who are you?! Just kidding… but I love fried rice! Try this upgraded cauliflower fried rice or my signature quinoa fried rice the next time you’re craving an Asian meal.

Shrimp and Grits – Pair cauliflower grits with blackened shrimp to make a lightened up, low-carb version of the classic Southern recipe. The result = delicious flavor and extra veggies!

Stack of flourless back bean brownies, topped with chocolate chips and walnuts.

Baked Goods – Baked goods will forever be one of my go-to comfort foods! I love these peanut butter oatmeal cookies and these flourless black bean brownies. Both are fan favorites… no one will know they’re healthy!

Ice Cream – Raise your hand if you love a nightly bowl of ice cream! {We all raise our hands.} Well lucky for you, I’ve got TWO upgraded options for you – mint chocolate chip made from avocados and chocolate ice cream made from bananas. Hey, don’t knock it ’til ya try it!

I hope this little list gives you some ideas for how to make some of your favorite comfort food dishes a bit healthier. Do you have a comfort food recipe you’d like for me to recreate? Leave it in the comment section below. I’m all ears. 

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    6 comments
  1. Hi. Thank you so much for this information. I love spaghetti so much that I eat it too often. Sometimes I’m worried it’s not healthy. I’m definitely going to try out these tip.

    Aysha

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