We all crave comfort food from time to time, and you can have comfort foods without giving up your healthy eating goals! Try these delicious-yet-healthy comfort food recipes next time you need to eat your feelings.
What is it about the fall and winter that makes us crave comfort food? Some experts say that we instinctively eat more when the days get shorter, and others think it’s more about opportunity. Starting around Halloween, the junky comfort food is everywhere, wearing down our willpower.
A little bit of junk food now and then isn’t a problem, but months and months of comfort food probably isn’t ideal. Let these healthy comfort food recipes be your new fall and winter staples!
Healthy Comfort Food Recipes (savory)
Mac and trees is my go-to comfort food meal all year long. The cheesy sauce uses raw cashews as a base, pureed with tomatoes, shallots, lemon, garlic, nutritional yeast and turmeric for color. If broccoli isn’t your thing, you can toss in any steamed veggies you like. When I was a kid, my dad would add peas to our mac and cheese, and I still have fond memories of that meal.
A cozy bowl of soup is always comforting on a chilly evening, and this hearty black bean soup brings the healthy fat from coconut milk to make it taste extra decadent. Serve topped with diced tomatoes and green onions for that umami punch to make this dish extra satisfying.
Rolled cabbage is another dish from my childhood that falls squarely in the comfort food category. My Nani Dorothy used to make us rolled cabbage, and when I went vegetarian, she started making veggie cabbage rolls, so I wouldn’t have to feel left out. This rolled cabbage recipe is based on the one she used to make for us.
4. Vegan Pho
A cozy bowl of noodle soup is perfect for beating the winter blues. Pho traditionally uses a chicken or beef stock base, and this recipe replaces the animal-based broth with flavor-packed mushroom broth for a soup that’s much healthier but just as satisfying.
Related: Ways to Make Your Own Veggie Broth
You might not think of noodles as a healthy food, but research shows that pasta can absolutely be part of a healthy diet. The trick is to skip the sauces packed with cheese, heavy cream and butter. This recipe uses peanut butter for a healthy, protein-rich sauce that’s perfect tossed with your favorite noodles.
This creamy soup gets its vibrant yellow color from plenty of anti-inflammatory turmeric, and its creamy texture comes from raw cashews and white beans instead of heavy cream and butter. You make this soup right in your blender, so it’s super easy. In fact, if you have a high speed blender, you don’t need your stove at all! Blending the soup for one to two minutes will heat it up right in the blender. If you have a regular blender, just warm it on the stove for a few minutes before serving.
My family loves comfort bowls, like the BBQ Tofu Bowl pictured above! The great thing about bowl meals like this is that you can modify them to suit your cravings. Try different proteins, veggies, sauces and starches to build your own best bowl.
Traditional beef chili may not be a healthy choice, but there are tons of vegan chili options out there that are just as delicious! The link above will take you to a list of 13 amazing vegan chili recipes, so there’s truly something for everyone!
Healthy Comfort Foods (sweet)
Below are a couple of my favorite sweet comfort food recipes that are healthier than the cookies, cakes and pies you normally see around the holidays. If you want more sweet inspiration, check out these healthy holiday desserts that don’t taste healthy!
Rich and creamy Pumpkin Overnight Oats are perfect for a healthy breakfast, dessert or sweet snack. This recipe uses real pumpkin, coconut milk and pumpkin pie spices to create a decadent-tasting recipe that’s sneakily healthy.
10. Avocado Pudding
If you haven’t tried avocado pudding yet, you are in for such a treat! The bitterness from the cocoa powder totally masks the avocado flavor, so all that comes through is its rich, creamy texture.
11. Baked Apples
Sweet, tender baked apples are a satisfying dessert for the holiday table that are easy enough to make any time you need a little healthy comfort food in your life! This recipe calls for butter and sugar, but you can substitute coconut oil to make it vegan. And you can halve or even completely omit the sugar if you like. The sweetness from the apples may be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, without the added sugar. You can always drizzle on some maple syrup after the apples have baked, if you feel like you were too aggressive with cutting back on the sugar. You can always add, but you can’t take away.
Related at Care2:
Avocado Pudding and Baked Apple images via Thinkstock. All other images via Care2.