When many people think of comfort food, they may envision heaping bowls of mac and cheese, chocolate pudding, or pizza. While those foods can definitely hit the spot, they also tend to be loaded with calories. Fortunately, there are tons of comfort food recipes that will keep your diet in check, soothe you, and also taste delicious. The best way to amp up the health factor of any of these recipes is to make as many elements from scratch as possible. It’s not difficult to do, will save you money, and you’ll notice a taste difference. Here are five comfort food recipes that are tasty and healthy.
1. Pot Roast
Pot roast is super delicious, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. Lean meat, low and slow cooking to make it tender and amazing, and an assortment of veggies is what makes this version of the comfort food dish good for you.
Here’s what you’ll need: a 3 to 4 pound chuck roast; 3 to 4 large potatoes, washed well and cut into chunks; 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces; 2 cups of baby carrots or 2 large carrots peeled and sliced; 1.5 cups of frozen pearl onions, or one large onion peeled and cut into wedges; 2 smashed garlic cloves, more if you prefer; salt and pepper to taste; olive oil; 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme and rosemary; 1/2 cup red wine, beef stock, vegetable stock, or water; an additional 1 cup of beef stock, vegetable stock, or water.
Place your veggies into a large roasting pan, Dutch oven, or baking pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rosemary and thyme and gently toss everything so that it’s well coated. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. To keep in flavor and give your roast a nice color, lightly rub it with olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and brown it for two minutes on each side in the preheated pan. Placed the roast on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan, but keep the skillet on the stove and turn the heat down to medium. Pour in 1/2 cup of red wine to de-glaze the pan by scraping the bottom with a wooden or metal spoon — those browned bits are full of flavor, and you won’t want to leave any behind.
After the liquid has simmered for three to four minutes, pour it on top of the roast and vegetables. Pour a cup of beef stock over everything as well, cover the entire roasting pan with foil, and bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1.5 hours. Remove the foil and cook for another hour until the meat is tender. Let the roast rest for 20 minutes before serving.
2. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s quite nourishing. Using homemade broth or stock is best, but you can use store-bought and still produce a very healthy and satisfying meal. It really couldn’t be easier to make chicken soup, and all you need to do is gather whatever vegetables you have around your fridge or freezer — make sure you have three to four cups total of chopped veggies.
For the chicken, you can use precooked or dice one pound of fresh boneless skinless thighs or breasts. Saute fresh chicken for five minutes in a hot pan with a tablespoon of olive oil for color and flavor. Put a quart of chicken or vegetable stock into a large pot or Dutch oven and bring it to a simmer along with the chicken and your choice of seasonings. Salt and pepper are a must, but you can also add in tarragon, thyme, garlic, or rosemary. Add the vegetables, simmer for 30 minutes, and then serve.
3. Parmesan Potato Wedges
Who doesn’t love French fries? The problem is they’re laden with fat, but this version will satisfy your cravings in a healthier way. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with foil to make cleanup easier. Cut three large russet potatoes into wedges and put them into a large bowl.
Pour three tablespoons of olive oil, two teaspoons of garlic powder, three teaspoons of Italian seasoning, a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper on top of the potatoes. Toss until each wedge is coated, then place onto the pan with the skin side down. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese that’s been finely shredded on top of the potatoes and bake until crispy and golden, which will take 25 to 35 minutes.
4. Easy Chili
This chili calls for less fat and calories than traditional comfort food recipes, and it’s really easy to put together. Get a pound of lean ground turkey or beef and cook it in a large Dutch oven or pot along with a tablespoon of olive oil, diced large onion, and a diced bell pepper. Add in a chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper — without the seeds — if you like extra heat. Sprinkle in about a half teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper. After the meat is cooked toss in a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon each of cumin and garlic powder, a half teaspoon of pepper, salt to taste, and a quarter teaspoon of ground cayenne.
Mix everything thoroughly, then add in a 15 ounce can each of drained and rinsed kidney, black, and pinto beans. Add in a half cup of chicken, vegetable, or beef broth if you want to loosen up the chili, simmer for 25 minutes and then serve.
5. Taco Lettuce Cups
Use lean ground beef, turkey, or even ground chicken for this dish that’s lighter on calories than the typical taco but every bit as delicious. Take eight to ten leaves of butter lettuce and ensure they’re washed and dried. Brown a pound of your choice of ground lean meat adding in salt and pepper to taste along with a teaspoon of chili powder, half teaspoon of cumin, and a clove of minced garlic. If you have fresh or dried cilantro, sprinkle in a bit of that as well.
To assemble the lettuce cups, put about a quarter cup of meat into each leaf and top with your favorite fixings. Mashed avocado, diced tomatoes, and finely diced onion are healthy, but you can also put a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese on top if you’d like.