We’ve enjoyed plenty of warm and sunny days, but I know frigid temps are around the corner again. So, I’m sharing some healthy comfort food recipes to get us through the coldest months of the year. I find that the most enjoyable way to eat well during short winter days is to focus on loading up on vegetables, rather than denying myself the cheesy, carb-heavy meals that I’m craving.
Here are 24 delicious and healthy comfort food recipes that are lightened up with fresh and nutritious ingredients.
1. Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Most restaurant enchiladas are so cheesy that I leave with a belly ache, but not these. They are delicious, satisfying and leftovers taste even better the next day. If you want to make a vegetarian dinner and hear, “I don’t even miss the meat,” these enchiladas are for you. The enchiladas are stuffed with creamy, hearty sweet potato, plus black beans, feta cheese, and spices.
2. Lentil Baked Ziti
This baked ziti is precisely what I want to eat when it’s cold outside. Hearty, saucy, cheesy pasta with redeeming whole grains and protein-rich lentils to keep me fueled for hours. This healthy comfort food recipe includes lentils for protein. It’s a delicious dinner that makes great leftovers. Be sure to serve it with a big green side salad!
3. Vegetable Fried Rice
This healthy comfort food recipe is a wonderful alternative to Chinese takeout. It doesn’t taste exactly like Chinese fried rice, however, it is still packed with flavor! It was so much better than I expected for a “light” recipe, but believe me, it is! You can use instant brown rice, but if you have leftover cold rice or can pick some up at a Chinese restaurant on the way home, use that instead and skip Step 1.
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4. Classic Minestrone Soup
Minestrone was traditionally made to use up leftover vegetables, so feel free to use any seasonal vegetables and greens you have on hand. The chef of this delicious and healthy comfort food recipe listed alternatives for some of the ingredients. So Helpful!
5. Kale Pesto Pizza
The nutritional yeast is to replace the parmesan making it a dairy-free pesto, but since we’ve got a few dollops of mozzarella in this pizza you can always just swap out the yeast for parmesan. Alternatively, you can just use dairy-free mozzarella and make this a vegan pizza if that’s more your thing.
6. Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
I think the pesto in this broccoli quinoa casserole was just genius. I love anything with pesto. This broccoli quinoa casserole was extremely easy to put together. I love quinoa! And because it is so versatile, healthy and easy to prepare, it has become one of my ultimate favorite ingredients to cook with.
7. Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
The pineapple provides this fried rice with juicy sweetness. Curry powder and soy sauce add flavor and spiciness. Red bell pepper and carrots give it some nice crunch and color. Green onions and fresh cilantro leaves provide it with even more flavor and freshness. Green peas add some nice protein. Leftover rice does not only make this pineapple fried rice recipe easier but it also does not clump together like freshly cooked rice would. A delicious and healthy comfort food!
8. Spicy Black Bean Soup
I have made this recipe as is–delicious!–but it’s a great recipe to adapt to your own tastes and to use what you have in the fridge. I like to fry up a few slices of bacon, saute the onion and garlic with a carrot and celery stalk, and often I often add some smoked pork neck bones and cook the soup for a few hours. It’s delicious chunky or pureed. Also, make sure to top it with sour cream or yogurt and cilantro.
Ever done a grazing table before? Here are some ideas for you: 9 Grazing Table Ideas We Can’t Get Enough Of
9. Italian Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant notoriously absorbs oil like a sponge, which is why you’ll want to brush oil onto the eggplant rather than drizzling it on. Just be sure to use fresh eggplant, because there’s no saving mushy, bruised eggplant. Removing the breading also makes this eggplant Parmesan gluten free. This eggplant Parmesan is lighter than most, and the eggplant flavor actually shines through. It might look super cheesy, but most of the cheese is on top of the dish so it can develop that irresistible golden crust. Golden cheese offers the most flavor.
10. Butternut Squash Kale Risotto
This is the perfect healthy comfort food in a bowl! You can replace kale with spinach or green peas or asparagus. Just endless possibilities. This delicious risotto is the creamiest, best-tasting risotto ever! Buttery caramelized squash, finely chopped kale, wine & stock-cooked rice, few spices, and cheese is what turns this into a delicious comforting meal.
11. Homemade Vegetarian Chili
This is my new favorite vegetarian chili recipe. It’s perfect for watching football games with a crowd, since it’s a hearty meatless option that carnivores will enjoy. Plus, it can be vegan and gluten free if you choose your toppings carefully. While the ingredients in this healthy comfort food recipe are super basic, the flavor is anything but. Simple ingredients can taste exceptional when they start off with aromatics like onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.
12. Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole
This chef tinkered with an old recipe her mother used to make for her family. Simplifying the veggies a bit and dividing them across two pans for maximum caramelization. Then she adds some black beans for protein, and discovered that Monterey Jack produces an infinitely better end result than cheddar does. This healthy comfort food is a hit at her Thanksgiving, and it can be a hit at yours too!
13. Cheese-Free Sweet Potato “Quesadillas” Recipe
Swapping sweet potatoes for cheese in your go-to quesadilla recipe may sound wacky, or downright sacrilegious, but I’m here today to tell you three things: Nobody is taking away your cheese; “to like” is not a zero-sum game. Liking one new thing doesn’t prevent you from liking everything you liked before, including, and perhaps especially, cheese; those of you who actually try this sweet potato quesadilla will be rewarded with deliciousness.
14. Chicken Spinach Artichoke Lasagna
If you know spinach-artichoke dip is the best way to start a party, you can only guess what layering it in lasagna does: Everything! The new go-to dinner for nights when you want something super comforting but also need to sneak in some greens, too. The cream sauce is perfect. One of the best healthy comfort foods on this list.
15. Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce
Pulses are packed with protein, fiber, and iron. Did you know that one half-cup serving of cooked lentils has twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and twice as much protein as quinoa? Plus, they’re inexpensive and an important drought-resistant crop to many people around the globe. They’re definitely a crave-worthy food, whether you’re a meat eater or not. And this healthy comfort food recipe is packed with pulses!
16. Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas
Can I say that we all love Spinach & Artichoke Dip? Whether it’s cold and schmeared on crackers or hot and bubbling out of the oven served in a cast-iron skillet, I’ve never met a Spinach & Artichoke Dip I didn’t love. So, why not toss it in some corn tortillas, a tomatillo sauce and call it dinner?
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17. Spaghetti Squash “Pizza” Bowls
I’ve always been skeptical about treating spaghetti squash like regular spaghetti. It does go well with marinara sauce, though, especially when it’s stuffed with garlicky sautéed spinach and topped with golden mozzarella. Unlike delivery pizza, these “bowls” offer extra servings of vegetables and greens. The spaghetti squash contains lots of fiber, so this would be an excellent meal to serve the guy who claims that vegetarian dinners never fill him up.
18. Fresh Huevos Rancheros
Huevos rancheros (or rancher’s eggs) are a typical breakfast served at Mexican farms, featuring corn tortillas and fried eggs topped with plenty of warmed salsa. They’re the answer any time I’m craving extra protein or a super hearty, quick meal. An amazing healthy comfort food that nobody will be able to deny.
19. Vegetable Lasagna Recipe
Tender vegetables, a light tomato sauce and lots of cheese make this vegetable lasagna recipe one of my favorites. This veggie lasagna doesn’t require too much time, either. While water boils and noodles cook, you can get through making most of the vegetable sauce. Then, all you do is finish the sauce, assemble and bake for 30 minutes or so. And just wait until you try the leftovers!
20. Vegan Mac & Cheese
No, it isn’t cheese … even though it kind of looks like it. Instead, it’s a creamy, flavorful alternative to the dairy stuff that will leave you richly satisfied in your decision to leave the cows alone. This healthy comfort food will become your new favorite vegan mac and cheese – with no refined oil.
21. Pumpkin Lasagna
I especially like this comforting fall dish because it’s vegetarian. Even friends who aren’t big fans of pumpkin are surprised by this delectable lasagna. Canned pumpkin and no-cook noodles make it a cinch to prepare. A must for your healthy comfort food recipe book! You won’t regret it!
22. Southwest Vegetarian Bake
Pros: Easy to make, a family favorite, not terribly unhealthy. Cons: Takes an hour to make and never any leftovers. This veggie-packed casserole hits the spot on chilly nights. But it’s equally good any time I have a taste for Mexican food with all the fixings, too. This healthy comfort food is so versatile – I like to add avocados when I make this dish.
23. Easy White Chicken Chili
Chili is one of the best cold-weather strategies. Some use chicken and white beans for a twist on the regular bowl of red. It’s a soothing and healthy comfort food. Everyone will love this meal. It goes beautifully with corn muffins, too! You won’t be able to turn this dish down again!
24. De-Lightful Tuna Casserole
This mild, homemade tuna casserole will truly satisfy your family’s craving for comfort food without all the fat! A creamy and satisfying recipe. truly mouthwatering! Add a little salt to the pasta water and throw in a few extra spices like garlic and onion powder if it tastes a little too bland for your palette.