3 Comfort Food Recipes That Are Actually Healthy

healthy comfort food

Comfort food—everyone craves it from time to time. Especially in the cold weather or when you’re feeling under the weather! But comfort food typically comes with a heavy, bloated feeling afterward since stereotypical comfort food is fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, chicken noodle soup—full of carbs that leave you tired. But while it all might taste good at the moment, you don’t feel great afterward.

These comfort food recipes will give you that warm comfort-food feeling without the corresponding heavy discomfort.

Indian-Spiced Lentils

This recipe is the ultimate bowl of warm comfort. Spices used in Indian cooking are warming to the body—think spices like turmeric and cumin. And this recipe also uses ginger and garlic, which are also warming to the body. In Ayurvedic cooking, these spices are healing. The flavor in this recipe is so satisfying and the lentils are hearty. Lentils have a lot of fiber so the soup fills you up without filling you out! This recipe is easy to make and it also keeps well if you are making it ahead of time or freezing it to reheat later.

Ingredients:

Lentils—

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1, 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dry green lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1, 15 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Rice—

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice (white or brown)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Directions:

In a medium pot, add the rice, vegetable broth, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed (or according to the package directions).

Turn off the heat and let sit while you finish the rest of the recipe.

In a large pot, add the coconut oil over medium heat.

Add in the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.

Mix in the almond butter and tomato paste.

Next, add in the crushed tomatoes and spices.

Lastly, add in the lentils and vegetable broth.

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a low, cover and let simmer for 35 minutes.

Once the lentils are soft, stir in the coconut milk.

Serve 1/2 cup rice with 1 cup of the lentil mixture. Top with a generous amount of freshly chopped cilantro.

Serves 6

Veggie Pasta

What’s more comforting than a bowl of pasta? Nothing! But traditional pasta dishes are usually full of gluten and dairy. This dish is made with chickpea pasta, which contains more fiber and protein than traditional wheat pasta. It will make you feel fuller faster so you won’t be eating as much as a regular bowl of pasta. And this recipe is also filled with vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes to give even more fiber! It’s a bowl of pasta you can feel good about eating while getting that same comfort food feeling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) chickpea pasta, penne
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 small (or 1 large) zucchini, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and add in the pasta. Let the pasta boil according to package directions or until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add in the olive oil and garlic. Sauté the garlic until it becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in the chopped zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Next, add in the cherry tomatoes and sauté the veggies until the tomatoes blister.

Pour your drained pasta into the skillet with the veggies and add in the rest of the salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Combine all the ingredients until the pasta is coated in the veggie mixture. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Slow Cooker Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

This recipe will have you feeling comforted before you even take a bite! It’s made in the slow cooker so you will be smelling it all day long just waiting to make yourself a bowl. Most beef stew is loaded with white potatoes but this recipe uses butternut squash, which is a low-starch vegetable so it won’t fill you up in the same way that potatoes do. The tomato paste gives it a rich flavor and when beef is cooked down for 8 hours in the slow cooker, it literally melts in your mouth! This will be your go-to comfort food recipe from here on out.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil
  • 1 leek (light parts only)—trimmed, diced, and rinsed to remove any dirt
  • 1.5 lbs. lean beef stew meat
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash (if you shop at Trader Joe's, they have pre-cut butternut squash! Two packages are the perfect amount for this recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking fat in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, half the salt, and pepper and sauté until soft, about 5–7 minutes. Transfer into the slow cooker.

Add the other 1 tablespoon of cooking fat into the same skillet. Use the remaining salt and pepper to season the beef and then add the beef to the pan. Cook until it is browned on all sides about 5–7 minutes. Add the tomato paste to the beef and cook until the tomato paste darkens a bit. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker.

Add the sundried tomatoes and beef broth to the slow cooker.

Lastly, add the butternut squash and fresh parsley.

Cook on low for 8 hours (recommended) or high on 4 hours. Low and slow makes the beef more tender.

Serve with additional chopped parsley.

Serves 6

Which comfort food recipe will you try first? With these recipes, it’s possible to enjoy a big bowl of comfort food without the discomfort of a bloated and full belly.

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


Want to learn how to stay energetic and balanced all year long? Learn Deepak Chopra’s simple practices to tune into the healing wisdom of nature and thrive, with our self-paced online course, Secrets to Vibrant Health. Learn More.


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About the Author

Lauren Venosta

Clinical Nutritionist & Personal Chef
Lauren Venosta is a Clinical Nutritionist & Personal Chef based in the Bay Area, CA. She runs her practice, total body nourishment , where she helps motivated men and women to regain their energy and feel great in their body. Practicing a food-as-medicine approach, she helps her clients utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies. With nutrition counseling and custom meal plans, her clients experience results that last for the long-term. No crash dieting or feeling deprived, her programs focus on building healthy lifestyle habits and incorporating whole foods. She works with clients all over the country via online...Read more