Comfort foods provide us a nostalgic or sentimental value to a specific culture or individual. Eating these meals makes you feel better, which is why it is called comfort foods. Most of the traditional foods are caloric in nature and contains high levels of carbohydrate. If you are conscious about your health and figure, there is no need to fret as we have here low-calorie comfort food recipes that can bring you back to those good times without giving you additional pounds.
One of the best comfort foods are potatoes, especially if you will stuff them with a mouth-savoring mixture of broccoli florets, lean ground beef, Cheddar cheese, and low-fat sour cream. Simply add a tossed salad to make your meal hearty as the flavors bring back memories.
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
8 ounces lean ground beef
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
½ cup low-fat sour cream
1 cup water
3 scallions, sliced
1 cup water
Use a fork to pierce all the potatoes. Put them in the microwave and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. Turn the potatoes once or twice until soft.
Meanwhile, cook lean meat in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir often for 3 minutes and transfer it to a large bowl. Increase the heat and add water and broccoli in a pan. Cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove water and add the broccoli to the meat.
Slice the top third of the potatoes and reserve the tops. Scoop out the insides into a medium bowl and place the potato shells in a small baking dish. Add sour cream, ½ cup cheddar, pepper and salt to the potato insides and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add the potato mixture and scallions to the meat and broccoli. Gently mix.
Divide the potato mixture among the potato shells and top with the remaining cheese. Cook in microwave using high heat until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot for about 3 minutes.
2. Creamy Hamburger Noodle Casserole
This low-calorie comfort food recipe takes lean ground beef and mixes it with whole-grain bulgur, egg noodles and tomato sauce in a baked casserole topped with Cheddar. It is low in fat and calories, allowing you to enjoy your meal without worrying about your health.
8 ounces lean ground beef
2 bunches scallions, trimmed
½ cup bulgur
1 ½ teaspoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces no-yolk whole-wheat egg noodles
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup low-fat sour cream
½ cup water
½ cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Apply a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray and place a large pot of water to boil. Separate the green and white parts of scallions. Slice and reserve separately.
Cook beef in a large pan over medium-high heat. Use a wooden spoon to breakup clumps for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer beef to a plate covered with paper towels.
Wipe out the skillet. Add oil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add garlic, scallion whites, and bulgur. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes while stirring. Mix in tomato sauce, water and beef and let it simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the bulgur is tender. Add some pepper and salt.
In the meantime, cook noodles for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the directions. Drain and wash under cold water.
Puree cottage cheese until smooth and transfer it to a medium-sized bowl. Fold in reserved scallion greens and sour cream. Season it with the remaining pepper and salt.
Spread half of the noodles in the prepared skillet and top with half the meat sauce and half the cottage cheese mixture. Repeat the step with the remaining noodles, meat sauce, and cottage cheese. Sprinkle Cheddar on top.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let it stand for 10 minutes and serve.
3. Mini Shepherd’s Pies
In this recipe, the potato topping is replaced with delicious squash puree. The ingredients are baked in separate ramekins for fast and perfectly sized servings. If you are in the mood for pies, you would love this low-calorie meal.
Place the rack in upper third of oven. Preheat broiler.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook and stir the onions until starting to soften for 2 minutes. Lower the heat and mix in beef, tomato paste, and flour. Cook and stir until the beef becomes brown for 3 minutes.
Add broth and bring to boil. Stir occasionally until the broth becomes thicker for about 4 minutes. Add spinach, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until the spinach is wilted for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Place the squash in a sieve and press on it to obtain the excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the remaining garlic powder and salt. Divide the meat among 4 10-ounce broiler-safe ramekins. Top each ramekin with ½ cup of squash. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
Broil for about 10 minutes or until heated through and bubbling around the edges. Add shredded cheese on top and broil for another 3 minutes. Serve.
4. No-Bake Macaroni & Cheese
This version of mac-and-cheese is very easy and quick to prepare. If you are not a fan of broccoli, you can use your preferred frozen vegetable that can bring back those great memories.
1 10-ounch packaged frozen broccoli, chopped
2 cups whole-wheat elbow noodles
1 ¾ cups low-fat milk, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons flour
¾ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta for about 4 minutes. Add broccoli and continue cooking for 5 minutes more until the broccoli and pasta are just tender. Stir occasionally.
Heat ½ cups milk in a pot over medium-high heat until simmering. Whisk the remaining milk, garlic powder, flour, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the simmering milk, whisk constantly until simmering and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in Parmesan, mustard, and Cheddar.
Drain the pasta and broccoli and mix to the cheese sauce. Return to the heat and stir over medium-low heat for about 1 minute. Serve.
5. Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole
Also known as Tuna-Pea Wiggle, this comfort food contains high sodium and fat. To make it one of the best low-calorie comfort food recipes, you can make your own creamy mushroom sauce with nonfat milk thickened with flour. You can also opt for whole-wheat egg noodles as contain more fiber.
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces whole-wheat egg noodles
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups nonfat milk
12 ounces canned chunk light tuna, drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Bring a pot of water to boil and cook noodles for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse. Position rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat broiler.
Heat oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms and salt. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until the onion is softened. Add wine and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour and stir to coat. Add milk and pepper, stir constantly and let it simmer. Mix in peas, tuna and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Stir in the noodles and remove from heat. The skillet will be very full.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the casserole and the remaining Parmesan. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned on top.
Your favorite foods can be rich and healthy. These low-calorie comfort food recipes can help you enjoy your meals without worrying about your calorie consumption. Do you also have anything else that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section!
John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry!