When it’s cold outside and all you want to do is curl up in front of the fireplace, nothing hits the spot like comfort food. The problem is that, whether your comfort food of choice is elegant risotto or more down-home fare, it’s usually heavy. Luckily, comforting food doesn’t have to be. These 21 comfort food recipes have all the flavors you crave, but healthier ingredients, so you can have the best of both worlds.


1. Lighter Chicken, Bacon, and Broccoli Alfredo: This Alfredo has all of the flavor you love, but relies on some healthier substitutes. Low-fat milk and chicken broth take the place of cream, pork bacon is swapped for turkey, and nutrient-rich broccoli is thrown in the mix for an added healthy boost. (via Chelsea’s Messy Apron)


2. Cauliflower Risotto: Risotto is delicious, but it can be a pain to make. This cauliflower version isn’t just healthier — it’s easier to make too. (via Cook’s Hideout)


3. Whipped Feta and Cauliflower Mash: Skip the mashed potatoes in favor of mashed cauliflower. It’s a creamy, rich-tasting side dish that’s lower in carbs, flavored with feta and herbs so you’re left feeling satisfied. (via Whole Food Bellies)


4. Baked Turkey Meatballs With Quinoa: Meatballs and pasta are delicious, but best saved for special occasions. These baked turkey meatballs with quinoa, full of lean protein and whole grains, are a lighter version that you can enjoy on a more regular basis. (via Just a Taste)


5. Sweet Potato and Kale Brown Rice Casserole: Many of us grew up on cheesy rice casseroles, and this recipe offers up a healthier take. It’s made with nutritional powerhouses like sweet potato, kale, and brown rice. (via Cook Nourish Bliss)


6. Cauliflower Gnocchi: Cauliflower gnocchi isn’t just a lighter version of the classic. It’s a praise-worthy dish on its own, especially when topped with colorful kale pesto. (via Kirbie’s Cravings)


7. Whole30 Shepherd’s Pie: Shepherd’s pie gets a lighter makeover in this recipe. It’s a dairy-free take on the classic that opts for grass-fed meat instead of the usual. (via Vodka and Biscuits)


8. Zucchini Lasagna Roll-ups: Ribbons of zucchini lighten up lasagna in this recipe. It has all of the saucy, cheesy goodness you love, but less carb. (via The Girl on Bloor)


9. Spaghetti Squash Boats With Chicken: Spaghetti squash replaces pasta while chicken and bacon add big flavor to the mix for a cozy dish that’s healthy but truly satisfying. (via Well Plated)


10. Skillet Chicken Parmesan: Lighten things up by baking the chicken instead of frying it, and serving it on a bed of greens instead of pasta. (via Wry Toast Eats)


11. Sweet Potato Spaghetti With Lentil Sauce: Spiralized noodles are all the rage, and they come in handy in this dish. Topped with a chunky lentil Bolognese, it’s a cozy dish full of essential nutrients. (via Emilie Eats)


12. Sweet Potato Chicken Cottage Pie: Chicken takes the place of red meat, and sweet potato takes the place of white, for a hearty, healthy meal. (via The Petite Cook)


13. Gluten-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole: Crispy root veggie chips save the day in this gluten-free tuna noodle casserole. They add just the right amount of crunch on top, without having to rely on bread crumbs. (via Abbey’s Kitchen)


14. Vegetarian Italian Wedding Soup: A cozy bowl of soup is the perfect meal on chilly days. This Italian wedding soup is comforting, but not heavy — it uses vegetarian meatballs instead of red meat. (via Killing Thyme)


15. Healthy Sloppy Joes: These sloppy Joes don’t come from a can; they’re made from scratch without added sugars. (via Healthy Seasonal Recipes)


16. Slow Cooker Turkey Chili: Sometimes you just need a hands-off meal, but don’t want to rely on takeout. This slow cooker turkey chili is just the thing — loaded with veggies, beans, and lean ground turkey to keep you full and satisfied. (via Baker by Nature)


17. High Protein Mac and Cheese: Sometimes our favorite comfort foods just need a little nutritional boost. This macaroni and cheese uses protein-enriched pasta, then makes a sauce from light shredded cheese and fat-free cottage cheese, so you get a ton of protein and flavor, with less fat and calories. (via The Sassy Life)


18. Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie: It’s easier than you might think to remake this comfort food classic. It’s made with a whole wheat crust and non-dairy milk, plus the same veggies and lean protein that make the original so tasty. (via Ambitious Kitchen)


19. Fried Quinoa With Chicken: Lighten up the go-to takeout meal with quinoa and extra veggies. (via Reclaiming Yesterday)


20. Gluten-Free Smothered Pork Chops: Served with herb whipped parsnips and kale, you’ll rave over these smothered pork chops. In addition to healthy vegetable sides, they’re made with a dairy-free caramelized onion sauce, which makes it a healthier take on the comfort food classic. (via Nyssa’s Kitchen)


21. Creamy Mushroom Linguine: Blended silken tofu makes for a creamy sauce that coats every noodle, but is much lighter than its traditional dairy counterpart. (via Discover Delicious)

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