57 Healthy Recipe Makeovers
Healthy comfort food
They don’t call it comfort food for nothing. Whether it’s savory meatloaf, a sweet pudding, or warm apple pie, this type of food triggers feelings of cozy goodness that can’t be matched by more sophisticated dishes.
But there’s one teensy problem. Typically loaded with fat and calories, comfort food can become a once-in-a-while treat rather than a staple.
But we can help. We took a look at some of our favorite dishes, from waffles to whoopie pies, and gave them a healthy makeover. Finally, cozy without the extra calories!
Spaghetti Squash With Meatballs
Try this recipe: Spaghetti Squash With Meatballs
It doesn't get much more classic than spaghetti and meatballs, and now you can swap out all those carbs for low-calorie—yet tasty—squash.
Ingredients: Spaghetti squash, grapeseed oil, yellow onion, crushed red pepper, minced garlic, fresh oregano, strained tomatoes, kosher salt, black pepper, red wine vinegar, olive oil cooking spray, old-fashioned oats, grass-fed ground beef, egg, Parmesan cheese
Wedge Salad With Shitake "Bacon"
Try this recipe: Wedge Salad With Shitake "Bacon"
Bacon is all kinds of delicious, but high in saturated fats and calories. To slim down the traditional wedge salad dish, try substituting it for baked shiitakes in this satisfying, easy-to-make recipe.
Ingredients: Avocado oil, whole buttermilk, sour cream, fresh flat-leaf parsley, fresh chives, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, olive oil, romaine lettuce, plum tomatoes, blue cheese
Try this recipe: Crab Cakes
With bell peppers, celery and mixed greens, this protein-rich classic doesn't skimp on the veggies.
Ingredients: Fresh jumbo crabmeat, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, avocado oil mayonnaise (or olive oil mayonnaise), scallion, celery, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, arrowroot, egg whites, grapeseed oil, spinach-arugula blend, fresh lemon juice
Slow-Cooker Turkey-Vegetable Soup
Try this recipe: Slow-Cooker Turkey-Vegetable Soup
Packed with veggies and lean protein, this hearty slow-cooker dish is perfect for eating in on the weekend.
Ingredients: Yellow onion, celery, garlic, thyme, sage, grapeseed oil, turkey, chicken broth, carrots, parsnips, kale, barley, salt, black pepper, zucchini, lemon juice.
Try this recipe: Vegetable Potpie
What's better on a cold day than breaking open the crust of a piping hot potpie? This healthier version is chock full of vegetables, like carrots, mushrooms, peas and cauliflower.
Ingredients: Spelt flour, all-purpose flour, thyme, salt, baking powder, black pepper, unsalted butter, grapeseed oil, carrots, yellow onion, celery, cremini mushrooms, garlic, turnips, cauliflower, vegetable broth, green peas.
Meatloaf is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food, and this is one of the best we’ve ever tasted. Swapping ground turkey for beef slashes saturated fat in half, while still keeping it moist and meaty. Each slice is a skinny 208 calories, and the leftovers make great sandwiches.
Try this recipe: Turkey Meatloaf
We love waffles, but not the kiddie version that goes right to your hips. Our grownup version is multigrain, topped with fruit and almond butter instead of super-sugary syrup to keep you energized all day.
Try this recipe: Power Waffle
Whole-Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
Easy French Toast Casserole
This festive, low-fat brunch dish tastes just as good without Grand Marnier, but testers say the heart-healthy pecans are a must.
Try this recipe: Easy French Toast Casserole
Coconut French Toast with Raspberry Syrup
CarbLovers Club Sandwich
When you crave a classic club sandwich, do your heart and waistline a favor and make this instead. Lean turkey bacon takes the place of the greasy pork variety, and an ingenious roasted garlic and white bean spread subs for mayonnaise, amping up the protein and slashing the fat. So satisfying you’ll never miss the original!
Try this recipe: CarbLovers Club Sandwich
Pesto Pizza With Sliced Tomatoes
When you crave a slice of cheesy pizza, this healthy version, made with store bought pizza dough, really satisfies. Our pesto contains walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so you get a small dose of the heart-healthy fat in every bite. This recipe calls for lycopene-rich tomatoes as a topping, but it’s also delicious with bell peppers and onions.
Try this recipe: Pesto Pizza With Sliced Tomatoes
Autumn Cranberry Beef Stew
Nothing says cool-weather comfort food like a steaming bowl of fork-tender beef and mushroom stew. This light, potent version has nearly half the sodium of the original and includes the bold undertones of Guinness beer and the tangy zing of antioxidant-rich cranberries. Serve this slow-cooked dish over whole-wheat noodles for more fiber.
Try this recipe: Autumn Cranberry Beef Stew
Wagon Wheel Beef Stew
This simple, beefy recipe combines the flavors of your favorite chili and pasta dishes for a skimpy 223 calories per serving. Everyone will love this dish, especially kids and company; it’s the ultimate comfort food!
Try this recipe: Wagon Wheel Beef Stew
Two-Potato Tart Gratin
Basil and Tomato Pizza
So much healthier than take-out pizza, and even more delicious than what you get at your local Italian restaurant. Using premade whole-wheat dough adds fiber and cuts prep time in half. Plus tomatoes are low-cal and rich in cancer-fighting lycopene.
Try this recipe: Basil and Tomato Pizza
Bet you can’t remember the last time you had this creamy beef stew! We knocked half the sodium and two grams of fat off this classic Russian dish. If you’re in a hurry, use frozen chopped onions and pre-sliced mushrooms to speed preparation. In order to keep the creamy consistency of the sauce, be careful not to bring it to a boil once you stir in the sour cream mixture.
Try this recipe: Beef Stroganoff
Penne Rigate Arrabiata
If you’ve been avoiding pasta because it’s too starchy, try this recipe. Hearty whole-wheat pasta, tomato, and crushed red pepper give this dish a hefty dose of fiber and flavor with little saturated fat. Tomatoes are great for your skin and may help prevent several types of cancer.
Try this recipe: Penne Rigate Arrabiata
Tangy BBQ Sandwich
Swapping lean turkey breast for pork gives this classic sandwich an updated profile and slashes the saturated fat in half. Make it even healthier by using a whole grain bun for extra fiber.
Try this recipe: Tangy BBQ Sandwich
Caramelized Onion-Pear Pizza
Perfect for fall, this pizza uses sweet, seasonal pears to add fresh, low-cal flavors. The onions take on a sweet taste when caramelized and taste fantastic with the tangy Gorgonzola cheese for a pizza under 400 calories.
Try this recipe: Caramelized Onion-Pear Pizza
Steak Tacos With Simple Guacamole
Lean meat, cooked to perfection, means you can enjoy tender, flavorful steak tacos again. Oregano and pepper add the right amount of low-cal spice to your steak. And because of the richness of the heart-smart guacamole, you won’t need any cheese or sour cream.
Try this recipe: Steak Tacos With Simple Guacamole
Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza
Instead of using pizza sauce, this recipe uses a combination of veggies, nuts, and cheese to create a well-seasoned pizza. You’ll get 3 grams of fiber and more than 20% of your daily calcium in each serving.
Try this recipe: Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza
Turkey, Pine Nut, and Currant Meatballs
The best meatballs we’ve ever tasted! A great source of lean protein, this dish is packed with nutrients. Currants add a dose of potassium and fiber.
Try this recipe: Turkey, Pine Nut, and Currant Meatballs
Yes, you read that right! Lean steak, whole-wheat flour and reduced sodium beef broth yield a tender, crispy fried steak that weighs in at only 223 calories per serving (with gravy!).
Try this recipe: Chicken-Fried Steak
Flank Steak With Mashed Potatoes
Yes, you can enjoy steak and potatoes again. Our deliciously lean version has all the fixings, plenty of flavor (thanks to herbs and pickled onions), but only 3 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Try this recipe: Flank Steak With Mashed Potatoes
You won’t miss the skin (or saturated fat) on this fried chicken. Browning the chicken pieces on the stove top ensures a crispy coating that locks in moisture, and the blend of spices adds a peppery kick that is sure to be “finger-lickin’ good.”
Try this recipe: Oven-Fried Chicken
Italian Meatball Sandwich
Meatball subs are notorious for being high in fat. There are healthy alternatives you can make to enjoy this dish. Whole-wheat subs are rich in fiber, which aids digestion. Choose lean ground turkey for a meat that has less saturated fat. Top with fat-free shredded cheese and still get the flavor and the calcium.
Try this recipe: Italian Meatball Sandwich
BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Add some color to this sandwich with romaine lettuce and tomatoes. Not only will they add a crunch to your bite, you will get some vitamin C and fiber too.
Try this recipe: BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Deep-Dish Taco Pizza
Combine the best flavors of Italian and Mexican cuisines with this dish. Top with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes to add some vegetables to your pizza.
Try this recipe: Deep-Dish Taco Pizza
Baked Two-Cheese Penne with Roasted Pepper Sauce
You’ll love this twist on the traditional macaroni and cheese, and so will your kids. Real cheese brings fat-burning conjugated linoleic acid to the table.
Try this recipe: Baked Two-Cheese Penne with Roasted Pepper Sauce
This vitamin C–packed pizza is colorful and full of antioxidants. Instead of using tomato sauce, which is often full of added sodium, this recipe uses thicker tomato paste and adds Italian seasoning for flavor.
Try this recipe: Three-Pepper Pizza
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Enjoy barbecue flavor without the added fat and calories. Using low-fat sour cream keeps this meal feeling light!
Try this recipe: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
To reduce the fat and make this dish even healthier, use fat-free milk and SmartBalance buttery spread. This will cut back on saturated fat, but not on flavor.
Try this recipe: Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Grilled Sweet Potato Fries
Beta-carotene-rich sweet potatoes take on a smoky, caramel flavor on the grill. No need to fry them in oil.
Try this recipe: Grilled Sweet Potato Fries
This recipe skips the tomato sauce, but you’ll never miss it in this herb-filled pie. Oregano and fresh basil add an aromatic topping to the low-fat cheese and antioxidant-rich spinach and tomatoes.
Try this recipe: White Pizza
Bethenny’s Pesto Vegetarian Lasagna
I’m all for eating lasagna, but I don’t like the superheavy ones. So my go-to version is a veggie lasagna that’s greener and fresher tasting (this one’s all about pesto!) and way less fattening than the usual recipe.
Try this recipe: Bethenny’s Pesto Vegetarian Lasagna
Low-fat mozzarella, egg whites, and fresh veggies make this a much healthier alternative to traditional lasagna for only 261 calories.
Try this recipe: Spinach-Pesto Lasagna
Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Although the traditional recipe for barbecue chicken pizza is loaded with fat and sodium, our recipe manages to add plenty of veggies and spices so you can use just a light coating of barbecue sauce.
Try this recipe: Barbecue Chicken Pizza
A healthy recipe makeover for under $10!
Rigatoni or penne pasta (16-ounce box from Barilla): $1.59
Lean ground beef (1 pound): $3.99
28-ounce can plum tomatoes: $2.49
Onion: 99 cents
Garlic (for the entire head): 75 cents
Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned; stir to crumble. Drain well. Combine beef, cooked rigatoni, tomatoes, and onion and garlic to taste. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. If you have some around the house, you can add mozzarella or parmesan cheese on top.
Try this recipe: Baked Rigatoni
Black Bean Chili
A healthy recipe makeover for under $10!
Onion: 99 cents
Garlic (for the entire head): 75 cents
Bell pepper: $1.64
15.5-ounce can low-sodium black beans: $1.09
14.5-ounce can chicken broth: $1.09
14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes: $1.49
Ground turkey (1/2 pound): $2.40
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add first 3 ingredients and turkey; cook for 6 minutes or until turkey is done, stirring frequently to crumble. Rinse and drain the canned beans. Stir in beans, tomatoes, and half of the can of chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Try this recipe: Black bean chili
Potato and Broccoli Casserole
A healthy recipe makeover for under $10!
Red potatoes (1 pound): $1.29
Frozen broccoli (Birds Eye, 10 ounces): $1.59
Low-fat milk ($2.99 for 1/2 gallon): $2.39
Shredded low-fat cheddar (Richfood, 8 ounces): $2.79
15-ounce can bread crumbs: $2.19
Preheat oven to 375°.
Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return potatoes and liquid to pan; mash with a potato masher until slightly chunky.
Steam 1 cup of broccoli, according to packaging instructions. Add broccoli and milk to pan; stir well. Spoon potato mixture into an 11x7 baking dish coated with cooking spray; bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bread crumbs; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
Try this recipe: Potato and Broccoli Casserole
Vanilla Bean Pudding
Cut back on fat even more by using fat-free milk to indulge in this low-fat, low-sodium, creamy treat.
Try this recipe: Vanilla Bean Pudding
Classic Apple Pie
Almost better than mom’s! At less than 300 calories per slice, this delicious take on classic apple pie cuts the sugar and lets the fresh flavors of sweet, tart apples shine.
Try this recipe: Classic Apple Pie
Choco-Sour Cream Cupcakes
Chocolate-lovers rejoice! Here’s a no-guilt way to give into that craving—these irresistible cupcakes are topped with creamy milk-chocolate frosting and come in well under 300 calories apiece!
Bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa provide an intense flavor (and antioxidants), while light sour cream creates a dense and moist texture for a fraction of the calories.
Try this recipe: Choco-Sour Cream Cupcakes
Raspberry Cream Cupcakes
These little gems are each filled with a sweet surprise of raspberry-infused cream. To shave 100 calories and 4g of fat, just frost as usual while omitting the filling. Top with fresh raspberries for a colorful, vitamin C-rich finish.
Try this recipe: Raspberry Cream Cupcakes
The simplicity of this dessert belies its sumptuousness. It uses ingredients you’re likely to have on hand, such as unsweetened cocoa and vanilla extract. Plus, the easy steps require no mixer. If you don’t have 2-ounce ramekins, you can even make the dessert in a regular-sized muffin pan.
Try this recipe: Chocolate Decadence
Chocolate Tofu Mousse
François Payard, the world-renowned pastry chef and author of Chocolate Epiphany, created this recipe using soy milk and silken tofu, which reduces the fat content without sacrificing flavor. This recipe tastes every bit as decadent as the traditional version, and contains nearly 19g of fiber per serving.
Try this recipe: Chocolate Tofu Mousse
Grand Marnier Pistachio Truffles
These citrus infused truffles get their flavor from orange zest and Grand Marnier, and the pistachios give them a bit of healthy fat.This recipe is low in cholesterol and sodium, but not necessarily fat (5.7 grams of saturated fat and 157 calories per serving).Because it lacks the added preservative, unsalted butter tends to taste much fresher than salted butter.
Try this recipe: Grand Marnier Pistachio Truffles
Triple Chocolate Surprise Brownies
These tasty brownies contain some seriously healthy ingredients, including black beans, olive oil, spinach, and applesauce.Just blend the ingredients in a food processor and add bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, and salt. Bake for 30 minutes and you will have a plate of delicious, healthy brownies.
Try this recipe: Triple Chocolate Surprise Brownies
Chocolate Chunk Bread Puddings
Try not to chop the chocolate too finely so you’ll have good-sized chunks to bite into. Hawaiian bread pudding is a soft, sweet bread found in the bakery section of most grocery stores. Leftovers are good for ham and Swiss sandwiches.
Try this recipe: Chocolate Chunk Bread Puddings
Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Sauce
You won’t feel guilty about indulging in this classic dessert. Using low-fat cream cheese and replacing butter with egg whites in the cookie-crumb crust reduces total calories by one-third and slashes fat to less than half the traditional recipe.
Try this recipe: Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Sauce
Deep Dark Chocolate Layer Cake
Unsweetened cocoa powder, coffee, and egg whites lighten up this fluffy favorite.
Try this recipe: Deep Dark Chocolate Layer Cake
Toasted-Coconut Layer Cake
Toasted coconut tops off the creamy, luscious frosting on this decadent cake. The secret to its super-rich texture is unsweetened coconut milk, which contains a key ingredient in strengthening your immune system and even losing weight.
Try this recipe: Toasted-Coconut Layer Cake
Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie
This tasty treat will be a family favorite. Fat-free buttermilk makes a perfect substitution for normal butter-laden pies, and tart Granny Smith apples pack plenty of flavor. The blend of the the buttery streusel and the calorie-conscious filling leaves your sweet tooth satisfied and your healthy diet intact. Plus, this recipe calls for a refrigerated pie crust—perfect for beginner bakers.
Try this recipe: Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie
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Mini Whoopie Pies
You’ll love our slim version of this old-school treat. Applesauce replaces butter and oil to drastically cut back on fat.
Try this recipe: Mini Whoopie Pies
Fudgy Cream Cheese Brownies
These moist brownies keep sugar in check by using a blend of sugar and calorie-free sweetener, plus a hint of vanilla. You’ll get the same fudgy flavor with one-third the fat.
Try this recipe: Fudgy Cream Cheese Brownies