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Comfort Foods: Healthy Recipes for Your Favorite Comfort Foods

Craving something salty, cheesy, greasy, or generally evil? Save yourself the guilt and whip up one of our good-for-you versions of your favorite bad-for-you recipes. With healthy recipes for chocolate chip cookies, macaroni and cheese, and even pizza, now you can eat what you want and lose weight, too.

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macaroni and cheese
Frances Janisch
Joseph De Leo
Joseph Deleo
Joseph De Leo
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Prev 11 of 11 Next
Prev 1 of 11 Next

Macaroni and Cheese

2 1/2 cups dried radiatore, rotelle, or elbow macaroni (8 ounces)

2 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) milk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup American cheese, cubed

1/2 cup coarsely crushed seasoned croutons

2 tablespoons finely shredded parmesan cheese

Make it: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large screw-top jar, combine 1 cup of the milk, flour, mustard, salt, and pepper; cover and shake until combined. Pour into a medium saucepan. Stir in remaining 1 cup milk. Cook and stir over medium heat just until bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Add cheddar cheese and American cheese, stirring until melted. Pour sauce over pasta, stirring until combined. Spoon into a 1-1/2-quart casserole.

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together croutons and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more, or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Prev 2 of 11 Next

Baked Potato with Chili and Cheese

1 medium potato

1 cup frozen broccoli florets

1 cup canned vegetarian chili or turkey chili with beans

1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

Make it: Wash potato, prick it two or three times with a knife, and microwave for 10 minutes, turning once. Heat broccoli and chili in a microwave or on stovetop. Top cooked potato with warm chili and broccoli. Sprinkle with cheese.

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Prev 3 of 11 Next

Spinach and Goat Cheese Pizza

2 whole-grain flatbreads

1/2 cup pizza sauce

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 cup baby spinach

1/4 cup goat cheese

2 tablespoons pine nuts

Make it: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake flatbread for 7 minutes. Spread pizza sauce on flatbread and top with oregano, spinach, goat cheese, and pine nuts. Bake an additional 12 to 15 minutes.

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Prev 4 of 11 Next

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

3-ounce chicken breast (or use rotisserie chicken, skin removed)

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup shredded carrots

2 tablespoons slivered walnuts

2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

1 whole-grain hamburger bun, toasted

Make it: Brush barbecue sauce on chicken and bake or grill until it reaches 165 degrees F. (To save time, use rotisserie chicken, skin removed.) Toss spinach, carrots, and walnuts with dressing. Put chicken on toasted bun; serve with salad.

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Prev 5 of 11 Next

Hearty Beef Chili

28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

10-ounce can chopped tomatoes and green chili peppers, undrained

2 cups vegetable juice or tomato juice

1-2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds beef or pork stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups chopped onion

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 15-ounce cans black beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Reduced-fat cheddar, low-fat sour cream, and cilantro (optional)

Make it: In a 6-quart cooker, combine both cans of tomatoes, vegetable juice, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Mix in the meat, onion, celery, and pepper. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Stir in the drained beans, then cover and cook for 15 minutes more (if using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting). Ladle chili into bowls. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro, if desired.

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Prev 6 of 11 Next

Frozen Pizza from Kashi

Craving pizza? Having this frozen pie from Kashi on hand has saved us many times from the call of the delivery menu. That's why it won top honors in the frozen foods category of our 2008 Healthy Food Awards!

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Prev 7 of 11 Next

Big Fudgy Bittersweet Brownies

1 large egg

1 egg white

3 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 ounces high-quality unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup buckwheat or presifted whole wheat flour

Make it: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch-square nonstick baking pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, yogurt, and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, oil, salt, and 3 tablespoons water, stirring constantly for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa and chocolate until chocolate melts, then add egg mixture. Add all flour, stirring until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until top is firm. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into squares.

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Prev 8 of 11 Next

Caramel Popcorn

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

5 tablespoons peanut oil

1 3/4 cups light brown sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Make it: In a stockpot or an extra-large saucepan, heat popcorn kernels in 3 tablespoons of oil. Stir to coat all kernels. Cover and cook over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes, or until kernels are fully popped (shaking pot after 3 minutes).

Lightly coat two large baking pans with cooking spray. Pour popcorn into pans and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey, remaining oil, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden or silicone spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in baking soda until smooth.

Evenly drizzle over popcorn; stir to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

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Prev 9 of 11 Next

Root Beer Float

12 ounces diet root beer

1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream

Make it: Combine, and enjoy!

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Prev 10 of 11 Next

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups canola oil

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Make it: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat together oil, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Roll into small balls; flatten slightly onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Freeze the extras.

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

mantyhousing3 wrote:

It would be nice to know the serving size.

1/7/2014 10:02:41 AM Report Abuse
mantyhousing3 wrote:

It would be nice to know the serving size.

1/7/2014 10:01:51 AM Report Abuse
mjeubanks13 wrote:

carbs are our combustable fuel. Your brain needs it also. They dont make you fat. over eating does! I agree with the diatition

9/30/2011 10:06:45 PM Report Abuse
kevv wrote:


9/29/2011 12:23:55 PM Report Abuse
dalger20081 wrote:

Where is the nutrition information for this recipe? Also, this meal is very carb heavy. Anyone that understands how carbs affect your blood sugar and hunger would not choose this recipe for their family.

8/10/2011 10:25:55 AM Report Abuse
dalger20081 wrote:

Why don't they show the nutrition info? And this meal looks really carb heavy. If you understand anything about how carbs affect your blood sugar and hunger levels, you wouldn't choose this meal for your family.

8/10/2011 10:24:14 AM Report Abuse
bdecker531 wrote:

Yes, it would be nice to know how many servings these stats are based on.

1/13/2011 04:10:40 PM Report Abuse
amartin692 wrote:

I can't believe how rude people can be. No, carbs aren't what make people fat--they have 4 Kcal per gram vs. fat that has 9. It's all about moderation and modifying the recipe to your needs. It would be easy to use a higher fiber pasta, or a lower fat cheese. I am a Registered Dietitian and get tired of hearing people complain. Also get tired of listening to people think they are the experts because they have read it on the internet!!

10/22/2010 03:20:38 PM Report Abuse
beautmillie23 wrote:

Another great idea would be to use Dreamfiels Pasta, it is delicious and low on the Glycemic index!

10/21/2010 12:06:54 PM Report Abuse
beautmillie23 wrote:

Great Recipe!!! Comfort foods do not have to be well balanced meals just a bit healthier like you did! Besides mediterranean is not always low-fat or well balanced but it is MODERATION, I know I'm from there, great job on the re-make of this recipe! Keep up the great work and pay no mind to the negative comments apparantly they do not know what they are talking about anyway:)

10/21/2010 12:05:11 PM Report Abuse
michelle_keller1203049 wrote:

i agree with others - add whole grain or whole wheat pasta!!!

9/9/2010 09:40:29 AM Report Abuse
hdonngra wrote:

This is not the way I make my Mac/Cheese.You do not need croutons,flour for this dish,make mine same way Mama did.Macaroni,milk,egg,cheese,salt,pepper,butter the dish.Lower carbs than this recipe.

2/4/2010 02:47:22 PM Report Abuse
collinw wrote:

Honestly, this in not all that low fat for someone looking at enjoying the good stuff while trying to lose weight. You'd be better using whole wheat or multi-grain pasta, skim milk and reduced fat cheese. I would delete the croutons altogether.

2/4/2010 11:48:19 AM Report Abuse
joberton07 wrote:

more fiber and protein the better. the CARBS are what make people fat!

1/10/2010 09:10:40 AM Report Abuse
nicek9s wrote:

velveeta is the lowest in calories and melts great over HIGH FIBER pasta,( i thought this was a calorie-cutter recipe!!)

1/8/2010 12:59:58 PM Report Abuse
littlemenahune wrote:

The only thing low-cal about this recipe was the milk. This would not be a good choice for watching the weight.

1/7/2010 01:43:44 PM Report Abuse
dschuste8 wrote:

not really a healthy alternative.

1/7/2010 11:48:11 AM Report Abuse
tri_martin wrote:

I want to try this recipe, but what is the serving size?

1/7/2010 11:42:25 AM Report Abuse
v.laurent wrote:

for me the classic is the macaroni and gruyere, can't beat that!

12/15/2009 11:02:04 AM Report Abuse

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