15 healthier versions of your favorite winter comfort foods

Frozen noses and snow days causing cravings for mac ‘n cheese and meatloaf? Satisfy them with these better-for-you recipes created by top food bloggers.
IMG_1263-3 When the only way to stay warm is to wear two pairs of leggings under your jeans, raw leafy greens are just not as appealing. Cold bodies crave steaming hot, stick-to-your-ribs foods that taste like the cozy comfort associated with, say, a heaping serving of mom’s lasagna.

Thankfully, forward-thinking food bloggers have figured out how to brilliantly re-create comfort food staples, so you won’t find yourself adopting a winter mac ‘n cheese diet.

These 15 creative recipes don’t just drop the cream and carbs, they use wholesome superfoods in place of items it’s better to skip. Think cauliflower mashed “potatoes” and bean-based “meatballs” on top of spaghetti (squash).

So you can feel full and happy from your (beet) burger and (jicama) fries and still have energy to trek across the mountains of snow and slush blocking your path to work. —Sarah Sarway

(Photo: Vegetarian Sloppy Joes from Edible Perspective)


Get Started
Oh She Glows italian bean balls Italian Bean Balls and Spaghetti Squash Noodles

Sacrilegious for those with Italian grandmothers, yes. Better for you, yes! Star vegan blogger Angela Liddon, of Oh She Glows, uses kidney beans, oats, and flax to craft these fiber-full balls and serves them over spaghetti squash pasta to prevent post-meal carb comas.

Visit Oh She Glows for the recipe.

(Photo: Oh She Glows)


Eggplant Fries by Virgine Cuisine Eggplant “Fries”

Giant fried, salty potato wedges, anyone? Virginia Dweck, of Virgine Cuisine, leaves both the starchy potato and the fryer out of this recipe. The secret to making a great replacement, she says, is with an array of spices, like this mixture of mint, sumac, garlic powder, and Hungarian paprika.

Visit Virgine Cuisine for the recipe.

(Photo: Virgine Cuisine)


Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy by Minimalist Baker Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Mushroom Gravy

By subbing half of the potatoes you would normally use with steamed cauliflower, John and Dana Shultz, of Minimalist Baker, created a light, fluffy version of a classic favorite, with more phytonutrients and less empty carbs. The mushroom gravy will give it a yummy Thanksgiving touch, and, bonus, it takes only 10 minutes to whip up.

Visit Minimalist Baker for the recipe.

(Photo: Minimalist Baker)


Corn and Poblano Socca Pizza Recipe by ALEXANDRA FLEISCHMAN Corn and Poblano Socca Pizza

If you’re constantly craving a greasy slice from the corner pizzeria, try this recipe created by food blogger Alexandra Fleischman of MarcusSamuelsson.com. Fleischman uses socca, or chickpea dough, for the crust, eliminating gluten and adding protein. “As far as toppings, anything that you would put on a pizza will work,” she says. Just don’t add, say, processed meat.

Visit MarcusSamuelsson.com for the recipe.

(Photo: Alexandra Fleischman)


Coconut dusted chicken by Manus Kitchen Coconut Cashew Dusted Chicken with Coconut Salsa Verde

Chicken fingers taste like warm, delicious childhood, but this better-for-you option will fit your adult sensibility (and diet), with a coating made from cashews and coconut. (Use free-range, organic chicken to make it uber healthy.) Plus, Emanuelle Lee, foodie and creator of Manu’s Kitchen, bakes the chicken instead of frying it, and tops it with fresh, zingy salsa.

Visit Manu’s Kitchen for the recipe.

(Photo: Manu’s Kitchen)


Loaded Lentil Sloppy Joes Loaded Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes

Cafeteria lunch ladies should take a cue from this recipe created by Ashley McLaughlin, the architect turned gluten-free chef behind Edible Perspective. It calls for lentils, crushed tomatoes, and a slew of spices instead of processed ground beef—and is still deliciously messy.

Visit Edible Perspective for the recipe.

(Photo: Edible Perspective)


Spa Bettie crispy eggplant stacks Crispy Eggplant Stacks

Flax seeds (omegas!) turn into breading in this recipe that makes eggplant parm look so provincial. And Kristina Sloggett of Spa Bettie adds coconut milk to the recipe for more healthy fats, and a bed of quinoa for protein.

Visit Spa Bettie for the recipe.

(Photo: Spa Bettie)


Pumpkin PB curry Pumpkin Coconut and Peanut Butter Curry Over Quinoa

Warming spices and creamy textures (peanut butter!) are just what you’ll want when you’re snuggled up inside, and this curry from Julia’s Album is filled with nutrient-packed veggies, too. By pouring it over quinoa, it’s a super-satisfying, protein-packed meal.

Visit Julia’s Album for the recipe.

(Photo: JuliasAlbum.com)


Baked Jicama fries Jicama Fries

Jicama may resemble a potato, but it’s actually the tuber of a bean plant. It’s got lots of fiber (6 grams per cup!) and cooks to perfection in under 30 minutes with this simple recipe by Danielle Masland of Healthy Vittles and Bits. The perfect sub for thin and crispy fast-food fries, and your friends will totally be impressed when you educate them on the exotic ingredient.

Visit Healthy Vittles and Bits for the recipe.

(Photo: Healthy Vittles and Bits)


Grilled Beet Burgers by Green Kitchen Grilled Beet Burgers

The flavor and texture of beets are a no-fail replacement for a juicy beef patty, say the vegetarian recipe writers behind Green Kitchen Stories (and if you’ve ever tried Five Napkin’s delicious veggie burger, you know what they’re talking about). Make it dairy-free by swapping the feta cheese with tofu; to go all the (healthy) way, ditch the bun and wrap the burger in a cabbage or lettuce leaf.

Visit Green Kitchen Stories for the recipe.

(Photo: Green Kitchen Stories)


Seitan slow-cook chicken soup Vegan Slow Cooker Thai Seitan Noodle Soup

The Kitchen Paper‘s Mary Loudermilk’s version of “chicken” noodle soup has all of the essential flavors and textures needed for a steaming bowl of comfort—without the extra servings of salt and with extra nutritious ingredients like coconut milk and bean sprouts. Plus, winter cold-and-flu fighting ginger and garlic, and jalapeno to really clear those sinuses.

Visit The Kitchen Paper for the recipe.

(Photo: The Kitchen Paper)


Naturally Ella vegan chipotle tacos Chipotle Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Guac Tacos

Taco night doesn’t have to equal a stomach full of processed ground beef. Naturally Ella‘s filling is made with antioxidant-packed sweet potatoes, protein-heavy black beans, and lots of healthy fats from avocados. And don’t let the masterpiece of a photo scare you—they take only 30 minutes to prepare. Really.

Visit Naturally Ella for the recipe.

(Photo: Naturally Ella)


Smiths vegan kitchen baked onion rings Baked Onion Rings

“We love onion rings but couldn’t imagine frying them in a deep fryer, so this sounded like a nice alternative,” say Ramona and Kevin, the duo behind Smith’s Vegan Kitchen. Their recipe uses silken tofu blended with soy or nut milk as a batter and requires just 15 minutes in the oven. Swoon!

Visit Smith’s Vegan Kitchen for the recipe.

(Photo: Smith’s Vegan Kitchen)


raw cheezy spaghetti earth sprout Raw Cheezy Spaghetti

Earth Sprout blogger Elenore Zahn’s raw, nutrient-packed version of the most comforting of foods, mac ‘n cheese, doesn’t even require heat to prepare. The pasta is made from zucchini, and the cheese sauce from a mix of healthy ingredients like tahini, nutritional yeast, garlic, and disease-fighting turmeric. We’ll have seconds, please.

Visit Earth Sprout for the recipe.

(Photo: Earth Sprout)


vegan meatloaf cupcakes Vegan Meatloaf Cupcakes

Cara Reed, of Fork and Beans, created these “cupcakes” when a reader asked if she had a substitute for meatloaf, every grandma’s go-to fill-you-up food. The tempeh, oats, and sunflower seeds create a super-filling, hearty texture, while the soaked chia seeds, used for binding, kick up the omega 3 and fiber content. And she even includes a homemade “ketchup” recipe to dip them in, since her (and maybe your) childhood memories called for it.

Visit Fork and Beans for the recipe.

(Photo: Fork and Beans)



Wheat thins vs Chia thins 1 Keep Reading

7 healthy versions of your junk food faves
6 new healthy food books that don’t promote fad diets
Healthy Menu Navigator: Raw & Vegan



Loading More Posts...