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
Yellow peppers add a sweet flavor and vitamin C, while spinach leaves add iron and folate. Plus the tangy goat-cheese topping will satisfy your cheese craving.
Try this recipe: Mediterranean 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