35 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes You’ll Crave

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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

Craving 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!

A skillet of healthy, protein-packed vegan mushroom stroganoff made with savory mushrooms, lentil pasta and a creamy coconut milk sauce.
4.82 from 65 votes

One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Healthy, protein-packed vegan mushroom stroganoff made with savory mushrooms, lentil pasta and a creamy coconut milk sauce.
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Craving spaghetti and meatballs? Try my popeye turkey meatballs served over zucchini noodles. Prep the meatballs in advance and you have the easiest.dinner.ever.

Spinach turkey meatballs with pasta sauce in a cast iron skillet.
4.67 from 24 votes

Spinach Turkey Meatballs

These simple clean eating Popeye turkey meatballs are moist and flavorful, loaded with veggies and require no binders! Meal prep a batch early in the week so you can add them to pasta, sandwiches, salads and more throughout the week!
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Craving macaroni & cheese? Macaroni and cheese is one of the first things I think of when it comes to comfort food! I have two options for you… one that is vegan with a cashew sauce and one that is higher in protein!

A spoonful of vegan mac and cheese being held overtop of a bowl filled with vegan mac and cheese.
4.28 from 22 votes

Vegan Mac and Cheese

The best vegan mac and cheese made with cashews, potatoes and nutritional yeast! It’s easy to make, creamy, cheesy and so delicious. This comfort food classic turned plant-based is guaranteed to be a new family favorite.
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A bowl of creamy, healthy protein packed mac and cheese made with chickpea pasta, broccoli and spinach. Macaroni is topped with extra cheddar.
4.45 from 81 votes

Protein Packed Healthy Mac and Cheese

A healthy mac and cheese recipe that is packed with protein, broccoli and spinach. Perfect as a full meal and a sneaky way to get your kids to eat more veggies.
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Craving 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!

An overhead shot of a cutting board with a partially sliced lentil loaf on parchment paper. A knife lays on the cutting board perpendicular to the loaf.
4.51 from 210 votes

Vegan Lentil Loaf

This hearty vegan lentil loaf is packed with flavor, loaded with plant-based protein and makes for a delicious vegetarian entree for a holiday meal.
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Craving 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!

Cauliflower baked ziti topped with parmesan before its cooked.
4.50 from 60 votes

Turkey Cauliflower Baked Ziti

This turkey cauliflower baked ziti uses cooked cauliflower instead of pasta noodles so it's low-carb and gluten-free while still being cheesy and delicious. 
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Craving a 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, but if you’re not up for temeph burgers I have options with turkey, chicken and black beans too!

Stack of three tempeh burgers on buns.
4.36 from 34 votes

Tempeh Veggie Burgers

A delicious veggie burger that’s made with tempeh and holds together so well you can cook it on the grill! Added bonus, it’s packed with plant-based protein.
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Spinach and feta turkey burger on a bun with avocado, onions, tomatoes and sprouts.
4.47 from 62 votes

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers

These spinach and feta turkey burgers are quick and easy to prepare and taste delicious grilled and served on a bun with your favorite burger toppings.
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Black bean burger on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard and pickles.
3.90 from 38 votes

Easy Black Bean Burgers

These vegan black bean burgers are loaded with flavor, easy to make and hold together super well!
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Chicken burgers cooking in a grill pan on the stove.
4.25 from 49 votes

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers

Cilantro lime chicken burgers that are packed with refreshing flavor! The perfect summer main dish. Gluten-free and paleo-friendly. 
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Crispy baked sweet potato fries on parchment paper next to a small bowl of ketchup.
4.84 from 6 votes

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Satisfy your craving for fries with healthy baked sweet potato fries that are actually crispy! Perfect for serving alongside a burger or sandwich.
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Overhead shot of a plate with fries, there is a ramekin of salt in focus.
4.12 from 17 votes

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

Air fryer sweet potato fries are crispier than baked sweet potatoes fries and much healthier than deep-fried ones! Plus, they cook up in 10 minutes.
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Plate of crispy zucchini fries on a plate with a creamy dip topped with chopped parsley.
4.28 from 51 votes

Baked Zucchini Fries

These baked zucchini fries are breaded with almond flour and parmesan to create a crispy and delicious side dish! Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
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Butternut squash fries on a plate with a bowl of ketchup.
3.93 from 26 votes

Butternut Squash Fries

Looking for healthy French fries? Try these easy oil-free baked butternut squash fries with only 2 simple ingredients – butternut squash and sea salt! 
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A white plate of turnip fries and a jar of ranch dip on top of a purple napkin.
4.84 from 6 votes

Baked Turnip Fries

Fries made from turnips? Yup! If you’ve never tried a turnip, now is the time. These flavorful baked turnip fries are the perfect way to get more vegetables on your table.
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Golden Gut Baked Jicama Fries with Turmeric and Black Pepper and a dish of guacamole.
3.91 from 51 votes

Baked Jicama Fries

Low-carb, gut-friendly baked jicama fries with turmeric and black pepper. Serve with guacamole for a delicious summer side. Paleo, vegan and keto-friendly.
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Craving tuna noodle casserole? I took a fun spin on the classic recipe by making spaghetti squash tuna noodle casserole boats.

Two spaghetti squash tuna casserole boats on white plates.
4.05 from 24 votes

Spaghetti Squash Tuna Casserole

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

Slices of eggplant on a baking sheet with parchment paper-- they are eggplant pizzas topped with cheese, sauce, and some greens.
4.24 from 130 votes

Low Carb Eggplant Pizza

A low carb eggplant pizza recipe that uses sliced eggplant as the crust instead of a carb-heavy breaded crust. Tons of flavor and super simple to assemble, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. 
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Craving lasagna? Try my low carb, healthy lasagna made with zucchini noodles and tofu or make turkey eggplant casserole that layers slices of eggplant along with ground turkey.

Slice of zucchini noodle tofu lasagna on a plate with salad.
4.89 from 9 votes

Skinny Tofu Zucchini Lasagna

Low carb, healthy lasagna made with zucchini noodles and tofu. This vegetarian main is packed with protein and loaded with Italian flavor!
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Baking dish of a cheesy eggplant casserole topped with cheese and fresh parsley.
4.39 from 104 votes

Turkey Eggplant Casserole

Comfort food made healthy, this cheesy eggplant casserole layers eggplant with protein-rich turkey and mozzarella. The best part? It bakes up in 30 minutes!
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Craving 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.

Broccoli quinoa casserole with cheddar cheese in a baking dish.
4.20 from 66 votes

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Cheesy broccoli quinoa casserole made healthy! This version has protein-packed quinoa, fresh broccoli florets and a homemade sauce instead of canned soup.
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Craving mashed potatoes? Swap cauliflower for potatoes in my mashed cauliflower. You’ll save half the calories and 1/3 of the carbs! #worthit

A bowl of mashed cauliflower topped with chives. A serving spoon rests inside the bowl.
4.47 from 15 votes

Mashed Cauliflower

Swap potatoes for cauliflower with this healthy mashed cauliflower recipe! It's the perfect side dish and comes together quickly with only 6 ingredients. It's just as creamy and delicious as mashed potatoes, but has half the calories and one-third of the carbs.

Craving 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!

View from above of baking dish filled with turkey taco zucchini boats topped with avocado, jalapeño and tomato. Dish on a kitchen towel.
5 from 7 votes

Taco Zucchini Boats

Protein packed and dairy-free, these taco zucchini boats are perfect for a quick and easy healthy weeknight dinner. 
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This healthy taco salad is made with ground turkey taco meat instead of beef and is packed with veggies. It comes together quickly making it perfect for a weeknight meal.
4.23 from 48 votes

Healthy Taco Salad

This healthy taco salad is made with ground turkey taco meat instead of beef and is packed with veggies. It comes together quickly making it perfect for a weeknight meal.
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A glass dish with tempeh salad, including tempeh, black beans, lettuce tomatoes, and lime. Salsa, tempeh, and chips on the table on the side.
4.10 from 11 votes

Tempeh Taco Salad Meal Prep Bowls

These tempeh taco salad meal prep bowls are an easy on-the-go option for lunch or quick dinner. The combo of protein-packed tempeh taco meat, black beans and veggies makes for a delicious and satisfying plant-based meal. Vegan and gluten-free.
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Craving enchiladas? My healthy chicken enchiladas are one of the most popular recipes on EBF and if you’re vegetarian, I highly recommend my sweet potato enchilada bake. If I’m bringing a meal to someone I usually pick one of these recipes. New baby, surgery, you name it! You’re getting enchiladas or the enchilada bake! They’re easy and a total crowd pleaser!

Two chicken enchiladas on a plate topped with cheese and cilantro with a fork on the plate.
4.40 from 240 votes

Healthy Chicken Enchiladas

These healthy chicken enchiladas are packed with flavor and nutritious ingredients! The homemade enchilada sauce is the star of this recipe.
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Slice of sweet potato black bean enchilada bake layered with tortillas, sweet potatoes, black beans, cheese and a homemade enchilada sauce with slices of avocado on the side. Remaining enchilada bake in baking dish behind.
4.89 from 45 votes

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchilada Bake

Layered with tortillas, sweet potatoes, black beans, cheese and a homemade enchilada sauce. Vegetarian, gluten-free and absolutely delicious!
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Craving 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.

Cauliflower rice with carrots, corn, and broccoli in a pan.=
4.38 from 8 votes

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This vegetarian cauliflower fried rice has the texture and flavor you crave from traditional fried rice, but it’s loaded with veggies, high in fiber and low in carbs. Serve with your favorite protein for a nourishing, paleo-friendly meal. 
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A serving bowl filled with quinoa fried rice. A black spoon rests below the bowl. Just out of frame is a bottle of sriracha and a bowl of green onions.
4.19 from 22 votes

Quinoa Fried “Rice”

This quinoa fried rice is a healthy take on traditional fried rice made with protein-packed quinoa. It's packed with veggies and takes less and 30 minutes to whip up. It's the perfect weeknight meal.
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Craving 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!

Plate of cauliflower cheese grits topped with blackened shrimp and chipped fresh parsley. A fork is resting on the plate.
4.36 from 14 votes

Cauliflower 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!
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Desserts

Craving 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!

Stack of three chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies with coconut.
4.52 from 33 votes

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies made with just 10 ingredients and one bowl. These cookies are healthier than most — gluten-free, made without butter or oil and only about 100 calories per cookie!
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A stack of black bean brownies.
4.65 from 183 votes

Black Bean Brownies

These gluten-free black bean brownies are so fudgy and delicious. No one will be able to tell that they're flourless and made with beans!
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Craving 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 some upgraded options for you – mint chocolate chip made from avocados, banana ice cream and chocolate ice cream made from bananas. Hey, don’t knock it ’til ya try it!

Ice cream scooper scooping a serving of banana ice cream from a loaf pan.
4.67 from 9 votes

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

Homemade banana ice cream made with one simple ingredient – frozen bananas! No ice cream maker needed. Just blend until creamy and serve.
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Two bowls with scoops of chocolate banana ice cream.
4.63 from 51 votes

Healthy Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Make healthy chocolate banana ice cream with frozen bananas, cacao powder, almond milk and almond butter. It's absolutely delicious, healthy, dairy-free and doesn't require an ice cream maker!
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Bowl of avocado ice cream garnished with fresh mint.
3.99 from 80 votes

Avocado Ice Cream

This avocado ice cream is so creamy, made with only six ingredients and doesn't require an ice cream maker! It’s also vegan and gluten-free!
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5 from 3 votes

35 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes (+ Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe)

Here's a recipe for healthy mac and cheese that's packed with protein as well as 34 other healthy comfort food recipes you'll crave!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients  

  • 1 8oz box Barilla Chickpea Rotini,
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup milk, I used unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedge
  • 1 ½ cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (more, if needed)*, about 6 ounces
  • 1 handful chopped baby spinach
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chickpea rotini pasta, return to a boil and cook for a total of 8 minutes, adding in the broccoli florets at the four minute mark. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  • In the same large pot over low/medium heat add butter, milk, salt and pepper. Once butter has melted add in drained pasta and broccoli, spreadable cheese wedge and shredded cheese. Let cheese melt a little, about 30 seconds. Use a spoon to stir everything together until pasta is well coated with cheese, adding more cheese if needed. Add in chopped baby spinach and toss until wilted.
  • Serve immediately with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Notes

  • Pasta: As I mentioned above, I love using legume pasta to amp up the nutrition count. That said, you can totally use whatever pasta you prefer.
  • Veggies: Not a fan of spinach and broccoli? Feel free to use other veggies!
  • Cheese: I used organic Irish cheddar cheese and shredded it myself. In case you were wondering, let me just confirm that real cheese is 100x better than powdered cheese or even pre-shredded cheese. Fresh is always better and shredding the cheese takes no time at all. However, you can use whatever you prefer including reduced fat cheddar cheese.
  • Vegan + Dairy Free: If you want to make this recipe vegan or dairy-free you can use vegan butter, vegan shredded cheddar cheese and 1 Tablespoon of vegan cream cheese instead of the spreadable cheese wedge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(made with reduced fat cheddar cheese) | Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 354mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: healthy comfort food
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
Chicken fajita filling on a sheet pan with a wooden spoon. Tortillas are resting on the bottom of the sheet pan.
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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for the article! Your recipes are the bomb! I love to eat delicious food, but it is very rare that delicious food is combined with the fact that it is healthy food. CBD gummies But your recipes are truly that unique combination of healthy and wholesome foods that are deliciously delicious. Thanks again, now there will be a very tasty addition to my recipe book.

    1. So glad you enjoyed these cookies, Kelly! Thanks for making them and for the review. I so appreciate it.

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