Comfort Food Dishes Under 500 Calories
Comfort food may seem synonymous with gooey melted cheese, cream, butter, bacon, and other high-fat foods, but you don't need to up the calories to glean that homey, warming comfort from your dinner! The dishes in this collection are lower in carbs, calories, and fat and higher in nutrients than most traditional comfort foods, and not only that: they're just as delicious. Each serving is under 500 calories, so you can enjoy these tasty recipes with zero guilt.
Chef John's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Relying on store-bought stock or bouillon for chicken noodle soup can mean more salt and MSG than you really want in this wintertime staple. Instead, this recipe starts with a homemade roasted chicken stock, which will lend loads of flavor, not to mention essential amino acids. Veggies and egg noodles finish things off nicely.
Autumn Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's pie and cottage pie are two similar dishes both hailing from the United Kingdom. Whether made with a lamb or beef base, these bakes are usually rich and hearty, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. In this version, leaner ground turkey is seasoned with spices before being topped with a pumpkin and sweet potato topping, which isn't just lower in calories than potatoes but also boasts cancer-fighting carotenoids.
Instant Pot® Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats
Apple pie is an American comfort food classic, and these oats contain all of those rich, sweet, and spicy flavors with none of the fat. Oats, apple, and spices mingle and meld in the Instant Pot and emerge ready to be dressed up with crunchy nuts, a splash of milk, or even a drizzle of maple syrup.
Butterflied Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary
The chicken itself provides nearly all the fat you'll need for this bird to emerge golden brown from the oven. Flavored with aromatic lemon, rosemary, garlic, and just a hint of olive oil, it's a healthful comfort food main that has the added bonus of making your house smell heavenly as it cooks.
Hearty Vegetable Lasagna
A combo of gooey cheese, rich sauce, and toothsome noodles, lasagna is a comfort food par excellence. But it doesn't have to be heavy to be delicious. This veggie version combines mushrooms, bell peppers, herbs, and tomato sauce for a richly flavored pasta bake. A three-cheese combo of mozzarella, Parmesan, and skim ricotta lends creaminess with a fraction of the fat of more traditional recipes.
Celery Root Puree
This purée offers a mashed potato copycat that's lower in both calories and carbs than spuds. Yes, it's made with heavy whipping cream, but a bit of fat is a small price to pay for the heaps of flavor afforded by the slightly sweet celery root, making a mash that's the perfect side to chicken, steak, or fish.
The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World
Chili con carne is a comfort food classic, but take out the carne, and you end up with a heart-healthy bowlful of spicy, flavorful beans and veggies. In this recipe, vegetarian burger crumbles add a bit more texture and meatiness, meaning the omnivores in your household probably won't even know this chili is plant-based!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a popular American comfort food, but it's hard to argue it's a healthy choice. Not so with this version, which adds creamy butternut squash to the mix. With its bright orange color and rich sweetness, the squash packs the casserole with vitamins and fiber, not to mention tons of flavor. A cheese sauce made with real cheddar cheese ensures that you don't lose out on the comforting aspect of this fan favorite.
Apple Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Pork chops and applesauce are a dream pairing, but chops can be fatty. Opt instead for lean tenderloin, which is coated in a simple apple glaze. With a side of homemade, no-sugar-added applesauce, you'll be serving up a delicious comfort food dinner at a fraction of the fat and calories of the original.
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Avocado is rich in healthy fats, and with its silky texture, it's no wonder it makes a phenomenal base for this chocolate pudding. Combined with coconut milk—another plant-based source of healthy fats—as well as antioxidant rich cocoa, it makes for a rich, tantalizing dessert that you can feel good about enjoying.
Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole
This baked spaghetti squash has all of the flavor and texture of pasta without the pesky carbs. Since Parmesan cheese is packed with flavor, you won't need much to really make this casserole sing. The casserole can either be baked in a glass dish or in the squash shells themselves for a fun presentation.
Instead of stuffing peppers with heavier sausage or cheese, choose these vegetarian peppers filled with a flavorful combo of black beans and gluten-free grains. Serve on their own or as a side to your favorite roast meat.