4 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

Rebecca Fillmore is a talented food blogger, Noonday Ambassador, and mom of three. She is passionate about creating delicious, accessible meals that feed the whole family. Today on Flourish, Rebecca shares her tips for turning classic comfort food into healthy, nourishing meals perfect for the chilly winter months.

Comfort food is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? It seems like every November and December we let ourselves indulge in all sorts of comfort foods. January comes around and suddenly we want to get ourselves into a good, normal routine and we cut ourselves off from all that wonderful rich, yummy, warm comfort food. Whether you are on a diet, or just need to “cleanse” yourself from all of the holiday food, the beginning of the year is a time where our food options can seem dim as we try to stay on “the right track” health wise.

Sweet-and-Hot-Sausage-Sandwich

So let me ask you a question, what is comfort food anyway?

Comfort food dishes themselves are a lot of different things to different people, but these dishes do seem to have a few things in common no matter who you are. One common theme among comfort food is that it is warm and it makes you feel all cozy when you eat it. Two other common ingredients in comfort food seem to be noodles and cheese. It could be one or the other, or both. But ultimately the defining factor of comfort food is that it is nostalgic. Most of these dishes bring back wonderful memories from your childhood or another wonderful time in your life. When I eat my mom’s homemade pizza, it is not only delicious, warm, and has cheese one it; but all of those childhood memories of happy times with my family come to my mind. That really is a beautiful thing about food. Recipes can withstand the test of time and find their way through generations of kitchens. Recipes sustain traditions and connect new memories with old ones. Food can be magical like that.

So now that I have you all thinking about comfort food, and what it means to you, how can we still indulge in those warm, snuggly meals without totally messing up our health goals?

I have a few suggestions for you. If we strip down the meaning of comfort food to be warm, filling, dense, and that it makes you want to melt when you eat it, we can actually find a lot of recipes that fit this criteria, and still be healthy.

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted-Cauliflower

Vegetables can be cooked in so many ways that can really hit the spot when it comes to comfort food. Tossing a chopped up vegetable in some olive oil, sprinkling it with salt and baking it until it’s soft will transform those veggies into a dish that will snuggle up right next to the fire with you! One of my personal favorites is curry-roasted cauliflower. You can put different herbs on it depending on what you feel like eating. This serves as a great, warm side dish that can be made in a variety of ways. The best part is that you don’t actually have to chop up cauliflower into tiny pieces to reap the benefits of roasting it! Coat it in some olive oil and roast it whole!

Brown Rice and Chicken Bake

Brown-Rice-and-Chicken-bake

Another way you can transform comfort food into being a bit healthier is by switching out your plain white rice for a brown rice. Chicken and rice bakes are really a great dish for the family that can be transformed into a lot of different styles of meals by simply switching out the spices and herbs you add. Just keep in mind brown rice takes a bit longer to cook!

Winter Beef Stew

Winter-Beef-Stew

What is more comforting than soup during a cold winter day? Soups are seriously one of the easiest ways to slip extra nutrition into your comfort food. Use low sodium broth without MSG, or make your own. This way you can get all the nutritional benefits of the broth itself. You can also add any extra vegetables and herbs you feel like. In addition to adding extra vegetables you can cut out the noodles if you are trying to cut back on carbs. Winter Beef Stew is one of my favorites because of the spices in it. Who would have thought that paprika, chili powder, and all-spice would go well in your soup? But those ingredients are what give it an especially deep, rich flavor without sacrificing your health goals.

Pasta Primavera

Pasta-Primavera

Ok, now one of my FAVORITE dishes to make when I’m really craving some comfort food is a pasta primavera. Pasta primavera is simply pasta made with fresh vegetables in it. So, the beauty is that you can add in or take out vegetables according to your taste.

The recipe I am sharing with you is my version of pasta primavera with my favorite vegetable combo. The key ingredient that really puts this recipe over the top is the light creamy sauce. It adds the right amount of flavor and richness to the dish to bring the perfect amount of comfort without making it too heavy.

Try it out!

I have sufficiently supplied you with healthier options that meet the criteria of comfort food. Now it’s up to you to create all of the memories surrounding the food to seal the deal with the nostalgia part. Enjoy these winter months with delicious, healthy comfort food!

Pasta Primavera

By: Becca F. Fillmore, dinnerforeveryone.com

  • 1 pound cooked angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups yellow squash or zucchini (or a combination of both), sliced
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1, 14 ounce can chicken broth
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons flour

To top the finished pasta

  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

Put water on the stove to start to boil water for pasta according to the directions. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, chop all of your vegetables. Sauté the vegetables (except the onion and the garlic, reserve those for the sauce) in olive oil in a large frying pan.* When vegetables are tender remove from heat and move to a bowl.

In your frying pan add butter, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic for a couple minutes until it is very fragrant and onions are opaque. Add broth and bring to a boil, let it reduce for 5 minutes. Mix cream and flour together and add to reduced broth mixture.

Combine noodles, vegetable mixture, and sauce. Sprinkle top with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

*{All of the vegetables will not be the same tenderness because they are being put in the pan all at once. This is done on purpose to give texture and variety to the dish. Pay attention to be sure you are cooking it all to your preference. For example: I’d rather have vegetables just cooked through, not limp}

Meet Rebecca Fillmore

Becca was born and raised in Iowa and is now raising her family there. She is the kind of person that when she puts her mind to something, it gets done, and it usually gets done fast! Getting up and doing something she is passionate about is what brings purpose to her life. So whether it is doing a Trunk Show as a Noonday Ambassador, developing a talent, or adventuring with her husband and three children, she considers it fuel for her life. Becca also LOVES food! Creating a meal and sharing it with others is always an exciting experience for her. She shares this excitement at dinnerforeveryone.com, which features realistic recipes and sincere thoughts.

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