How to Make your Favorite Comfort Food Recipes Healthier

You should enjoy all the food you eat. Whether it’s to fuel your body or your soul. So here are some tips on how to make your favorite comfort food recipes healthier.

At the beginning of the year there’s always a spike in sales of gym membership and workout programs. Now, I don’t subscribe to that whole “New Year, New Me” mantra. But I applaud anyone who wants to make healthy changes so they can become a better version of themselves.

I’m not going to focus on what you should eat to lose weight or anything like that. I’m not a nutritionist or a dietitian. Just a mom that tries to hide tons of veggies in my family’s meals. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with a personal trainer who is a nutritionist and understands life is not about eating boring food. So these just some tips on how you can make your favorite comfort foods a little bit healthier so you can reach your goals. Here’s a quick run down of the things I’m sure you already know.

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Decrease Unhealthy Fat – I know you’re thinking but it tastes so good. And yes, it does but your food can still taste good without a ton of un healthy fat. For baked goods opt for butter instead of vegetable oil (keto-friendly). Or decrease the amount of butter, shortening and oil in a recipe. Applesauce and bananas are great substitute for fat (and also if you need to make a recipe vegan). I suggest you reduce the amount of fat by one-forth. Then the next time you make the recipe reduce the fat by half.

Decrease Sugar – Sugar is everywhere. From our pasta sauce to our coffee. So take small steps. Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third. Then add spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla or almond extract to boost sweetness and flavor. Think about swapping out sugar for maple syrup or add fruit. I add fruit to my oatmeal instead of sugar.

zucchini chips
baked zucchini chips

Make Healthy Substitutions – One of the easiest ways to make your food healthier is to change the way you cook it. Bake instead of frying. Or thinking about sauting or grilling. All methods will help maximize flavor and decrease fat. And yes, you can bake instead of fry and get crispy chicken or chips.

Instead of enriched pasta switch whole wheat pasta, or zucchini noodles.

zucchini noodles/ zoodles

As for meat, swap out high fat meats for lean meats and fish or beans. You can also decrease the amount of meat in your meat sauce and increase the amount of veggies. I love a good fish taco … don’t you?

Squash & Chickpea Tacos
Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tacos

Are you ready to make some of your family’s favorite recipes and bit healthier?

Let’s start by organizing your family’s favorite recipes. Look over the recipes to see what healthy changes you can make. You can use our Family Favorites Printable. Make notes of any changes so you can refer to it the next time you make the recipe. Remember start small.

Stovetop Pumpkin Chili

An extremely healthy take on a classic comfort food recipe. This stovetop pumpkin chili is nutrient dense and full of flavor.
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili, healthy comfort food, how to
Author: El Marsh


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium red pepper diced
  • 1 medium green pepper diced
  • 1 pound ground beef lean
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 15 ounce cans white cannelloni beans
  • 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup roasted or canned pumpkin pure pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix
  • 1/2 cup beef broth


  • Heat a large pot (dutch oven) over medium high heat.
  • Add olive oil and onions. Sauté onions until translucent. Then add garlic and peppers.
  • Allow all of the ingredients to sauté for another  minute or two then mix in ground turkey and dry ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients (beans, tomatoes and pumpkin) and mix well.
  • Place lid on pot and reduce heat to low.
  • Cook for 25 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

The original turkey pumpkin chili was made in our pressure. You can find the pressure cooker directions here.

One of our first experiments was with chili recipe you see above. We added pumpkin to our classic chili recipe. Then swapped out ground beed for turkey and now we don’t make it any other way. It’s a family favorite.

What favorite comfort food recipe are you going to try to make a little healthier? Go to the comments and share. Your recipe might just become a part of this healthy comfort food series.


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