As the temperatures drop this fall, the desire for hearty comfort food rises. Savory stews, rich soups and thick chilis offer welcoming sustenance after a taking a brisk walk or watching a chilly football game. While everyone has their favorites, the reality is that comfort foods often are high in calories, fat and sodium and therefore are best considered more of a treat than a cold weather staple.
The good news is that lots of options exist today to rework these classic dishes to make them healthier, while still preserving all the flavor and even adding nutrients. Here we’ve shared some healthy comfort food and crockpot recipes that should satisfy cravings while keeping nutrition in mind. And they’re simple to make! Plan ahead with a crockpot, or, if you don’t have a slow cooker, no worries – we’ve got you covered as well.
- 2 1/2 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed
- 4 c. lower-sodium chicken broth
- 3 large stalks celery, sliced
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. ground coriander
- 2 15 oz. cans white (cannellini) beans, drained
- 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- Chopped avocado, for garnish
- Cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Sour cream, for garnish
- Baked Tortilla Strips, for garnish
To 6- to 7-quart slow cooker bowl, add chicken, broth, celery, carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, beans and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 hours or until carrots are tender.
Remove and discard bones from chicken; shred chicken and return to slow cooker bowl.
Add cheese, lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt to soup in bowl, stirring until cheese melts. Serve topped with avocado, cilantro, sour cream and Baked Tortilla Strips, if desired.
Baked Tortilla Strips: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Stack 4 small corn tortillas; thinly slice into 1/8″-wide strips. Arrange in single layer on large baking sheet. Spray all over with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool completely.
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 12 ounces tiny new potatoes, quartered
- 4 medium carrots, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup (such as Campbell’s® Healthy Request)
- 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram or dried thyme, crushed
- 2 cups frozen cut green beans
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Trim any fat from beef cubes. Add half of the beef cubes. Cook and stir until brown; remove from skillet. Add the remaining beef cubes; cook and stir until brown. Drain off any fat.
Place meat in a 3½- or 4-quart slow cooker. Add potatoes, carrots, onion, cream of mushroom soup, broth and marjoram. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 9 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 4½ hours.
If using low-heat setting, turn cooker to high-heat setting. Stir in green beans. Cover and cook about 30 minutes more or just until beans are tender.
- 1 large egg
- 1 12 -ounce can evaporated whole milk
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/3 cups grated muenster cheese (4 ounces), plus 4 deli-thin slices (1 ounce)
- 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 cups)
- 4 cups medium pasta shells (9 ounces)
Whisk the egg, evaporated milk, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl. Toss the grated cheeses in a separate bowl.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until almost falling apart, about 7 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the pasta to the same water and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Preheat the broiler.
Combine the egg mixture and the grated cheeses in the empty pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheeses melt and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add the cauliflower. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth and light (you can also use a regular blender). Stir in some of the reserved pasta water until creamy.
Toss the pasta in the sauce; season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a shallow casserole dish and top with muenster slices. Broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili (Cooking Light)
- 2 red bell pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
- 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained and chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place pepper halves in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and chop peppers.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add bell peppers, broth, squash, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans; simmer 25 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with green onions.
NOTE: Butternut squash adds slightly sweet flavor to this classic meatless chili. It’s delicious as-is, but you can also add in some corn and bell peppers and substitute black beans for white beans.
Apple Crumble (MyRecipes.com)
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups regular oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Dash of salt
- 10 cup sliced peeled baking apples
- Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla; stir with a fork until moist and crumbly.
Combine 1 teaspoon vanilla, cider, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and dash of salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Add apples, tossing to coat. Spoon apple mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with oat mixture. Cover with foil; bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes or until browned.
Enjoy the above recipes to fuel your body!