Now that we're smack in the middle of the longest, coldest stretch of winter, I'm all about eating warm, creamy comfort foods. Honestly, if I had it my way, I'd eat everything covered in melted cheese or butter. But, of course, I know this isn’t the healthiest option, especially because the extra calories and fat will likely pack on the pounds come springtime.
Instead of missing out on my favorite seasonal dishes, I satisfy my comfort-food cravings by making healthy swaps in my meals. Here are some lower-calorie versions of my favorite comfort foods.
Toasted Almond Butter & Marmalade Sandwich with Turkey Bacon
A fun fun twist on a traditional PB&J, this sandwich is anything but boring. Made with low-calorie whole wheat bread, turkey bacon, creamy almond butter, and orange marmalade. This warm, gooey, and oh-so-comforting sandwich is less than 350 calories per serving.
Chicken Chili with White Beans
This isn't your standard batch of greasy chili! With just over 400 calories per serving, this recipe is low in fat and packed with satisfying protein (42 grams). Beans are also an excellent source of fiber and, when combined with rice, they make a great complete protein. Dig into this dish when you want an especially hearty and comforting meal.
Photo: Leigh Beisch
Lightened-Up Mac & Cheese
Traditional macaroni and cheese sure is delicious, but it's not at all friendly on the waistline, especially when it's made with high-calorie and full-fat ingredients like cream and cheese. In this recipe, the heavy cheese sauce is replaced by a slimmed-down version made with nonfat Greek yogurt, low-calorie almond milk, and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. To further slash the calorie count, some of the pasta is replaced with nutrient-rich Brussels sprouts and spinach to amp up the nutritional profile.
One Pan Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
Cheesy, creamy, and loaded with calories and fat, enchiladas are not typically the healthiest choice for a meal. However, this lightened-up version combines roasted sweet potatoes and black beans in a nutrient-rich, one-pan enchilada recipe (bonus!). In fact, these enchiladas are so packed with fiber, vitamins, and protein, that you'll feel really good about eating them.
Photo: Tina Haupert
Gluten-Free Almond Brownies
These gluten-free brownies are so moist and fudge-y, you won’t even know they’re a lower-calorie version of the original. I promise! Each serving is less than 250 calories, and both the almond flour and chopped almonds provide satisfying protein and healthy fats, which will fill you up and won’t leave you searching for another treat a little while later.
Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.