When the weather gets cold and icky, all you want is a comforting meal. You know. One that warms you up from the inside out like a big hug.
Unfortunately, those comforting dishes aren’t always the healthiest… leaving you feeling a bit sluggish just hours later.
While I see nothing wrong with enjoying one of these rich and heavy meals once in a while, I’m on a mission to add some lighter and fresher recipes to my weekly meal lineup.
So I did some searching and found some recipes that look just as delicious and comforting… with a healthy twist!
Hearty and Healthy Starters
Apps, soups, and more! These lightened-up recipes are great for snacking or for a light bite.
I recently shared this Sausage Cheese Dip as an easy, football party appetizer.
But the good news is that you don’t need a game to enjoy it… you can make it for any occasion!
While it’s super creamy and rich, it’s made with low-fat cream cheese and low-fat cheddar. I also made a meat swap—turkey sausage crumbles instead of regular sausage crumbles.
You won’t notice these swaps… this dip is still DELISH!
When the temps are “less than ideal” outside, a filling soup always sounds good.
And if you make my Vegetable Soup, you’ll be able to warm up without ruining your diet.
The recipe includes a bunch of veggies. Onions, carrots, celery, green beans, tomatoes… basically everything in the garden!
You can even add a baguette on the side for a little more substance, too.
Skinny Baked Mozzarella Sticks
Just picture it… a hot, cheesy mozzarella stick dipped in marinara sauce. Yum!
And this baked Mozzarella Stick recipe from Skinnytaste.com will give you that same flavorful bite without the added calories.
Instead of putting them in a pan filled with oil or in a deep fryer, these mozzarella sticks go straight into the oven to bake.
And the recipe also uses part-skim mozzarella instead of full-fat. Find everything else you’ll need HERE!
Healthy and Comforting Mains
The main dish doesn’t have to be overwhelming. While these recipes will fill you up, they won’t leave you feeling overly full.
Low-carb AND low-fat? That’s what you’ll get with my Buffalo Chicken Bake!
The first time I tried this recipe I couldn’t believe how rich and creamy and cheesy it was…
It’s also super versatile. I like to use this Buffalo Chicken Bake as a dip for chips.
But one of my other favorite ways to make the most of this recipe is by using it as a stuffing for mushrooms or peppers!
I found this Zucchini Enchilada recipe on Delish.com… and delish it looks!
Instead of using tortillas to wrap the hearty center of the enchilada, you’ll use thinly-sliced zucchinis—meaning you’ll get a good dose of vitamin A and C, too.
The rest of the ingredients are pretty simple. Chicken, cheese, enchilada sauce, onion, and a bunch of spices. You can find the full ingredient list HERE.
Easy Eggplant Lasagna
Another recipe I found on the site is this easy Eggplant Lasagna that puts a lighter spin on the classic.
It also combines two of my favorites… lasagna and eggplant parm!
Although it’s a bit lighter thanks to the use of sliced eggplant instead of lasagne (those long, flat noodles), it doesn’t lack in the flavor department.
I haven’t made it myself, but it also looks like a great recipe for a crowd. Find the instructions to make it HERE.
Whole-Wheat Pasta Carbonara
Pasta is always a comforting meal. But if it can be healthy AND comforting, it’s even better.
Check out this Whole-Wheat Pasta Carbonara recipe from Cooking Light.
With under 350 calories per serving and packed with nutrients from the whole-wheat pasta, you won’t have to feel guilty about having seconds.
Check out the whole recipe HERE.
Light and Comforting Sweets
Sweet craving? Don’t suppress it… you can enjoy these treats without any guilt!
If you need a good on-the-go snack or a simple breakfast, you can take a look at my Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins.
I don’t use ANY oil in these muffins. Not a bit!
Instead, I swap it with applesauce—significantly reducing the fat and calories. But the good news is that they’re still moist, sweet, and tasty!
I’m a sucker for carrot cake… it’s one of those desserts that I always find comforting!
And although the name seems healthy (it has carrots in it, right?), it’s often packed with sugar, fat, and calories.
Fortunately, I have a Light and Delicious Carrot Cake recipe that cuts down on all of that… without sacrificing flavor!
Even when you include the rich cream cheese frosting on the top, it’s much lighter than the classic. I also like to top mine with a few walnuts. But you can leave these out if you’re not a fan.
These Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cupcakes might sound a little odd… but the zucchini adds so much moisture and you can’t even taste it!
Not only are these cupcakes tasty, but they’re also packed with vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. Talk about a health kick in every bite.
And although you can eat these without any topping, I love to add a swirl of cinnamon cream cheese frosting on top. So easy!
If these healthy and comforting recipes sound too good to be true, well… you’ll just have to try them yourself!
Let me know if you do. I always like to hear about your baking and cooking adventures!
From my kitchen to yours,