food

Your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Healthy comfort

If you’re trying to eat more healthily, you can still enjoy some of your favourite comfort foods which we all need a bit of right now. Follow our top recipes, tips and hacks for ways to cut down on the carbs, fat, salt and sugar in the dishes that bring us joy. These are the best-ever healthier versions of your takeout favourites, hearty dinners, sweet treats and more.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Sweet and sour chicken

Make this takeout favourite at home and you’ll have a dish which won’t be loaded with sugar. It’s ready in 30 minutes and you can mix and match with whatever protein or vegetables you have to hand. This would be great with pork, prawns or tofu.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is a feast of calories with spaghetti, lots of cheese and fried, breaded chicken – divine! But you can still enjoy it in a healthier way. Our version uses courgette spaghetti, the chicken isn’t breaded and it’s cooked in a rich, herby tomato sauce with passata. There’s a cheesy crumb topping to add the familiar crunch.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chicken burgers

Crispy fried chicken, melted cheese, plenty of mayo – chicken burgers tick all the comfort food boxes. But you could try a healthier, yet still tasty, version. Marinate chicken in buttermilk so it’s super tender, then bake in a hot oven, rather than frying. Pile a bun high with the chicken, pickles, avocado, leaves and sriracha mayo (although you could even use Greek yogurt).

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Pasta with meatballs

We’ve transformed the original dish, which can be pretty high in saturated fat, into a veggie version served with a marinara sauce. The meatiness comes from a mixture of dried mushrooms and lentils. The marinara sauce is made with passata and roasted peppers (use ones from a jar for ease). It’s packed with flavour and we bet you won’t miss the original.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Burritos

There’s no end to the amount of gorgeous ingredients you can stuff in a burrito – lots of cheese, refried beans, pulled beef or pork, sour cream. Gorgeous, yes, but healthy? Not so much. We have a healthy vegan version which is perfect for breakfast or lunch. It’s a combination of tofu, plantain, plenty of spices and vegetables, and served with a punchy tomato salsa.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Macaroni cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese is undoubtedly one of the best comfort foods ever, and you can reduce the carb-loading by replacing half the pasta with cauliflower. Another top tip is to use extra mature Cheddar cheese so you need less of it. Our version is also inspired by Indian flavours, with added spices and fresh coriander, but leave them out if you prefer.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Mushroom chow mein

Big on veggies with less noodles than your average takeout portion, this chow mein still hits the spot. It’s packed with bold, fresh flavours thanks to ginger, chilli, garlic and a punchy Sichuan sauce.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Fried chicken

This method for fried chicken gives you a similar effect while cutting down on calories. Marinate 1.35kg (3lb) chicken wings in 300ml (10fl oz) buttermilk for an hour, to tenderise the chicken. Remove and pat dry. Heat the oven to 220°C (400°F). Season 80g (3oz) flour, then dip the chicken in it, patting off any excess. Pour 80ml (3fl oz) oil into a roasting tin to heat. Put the chicken in the oil, roast for 20 minutes, then turn and baste. Roast for a further 20 minutes until crisp.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Tacos

You’d never know from the taste that these bloody mary-inspired prawn tacos are healthier than a takeout. For adults only (the sauce contains vodka), they are loaded with spicy prawns and a tasty celeriac slaw. Tabasco gives a good kick to the sauce.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chocolate cake

When you want a special occasion cake which is healthier as well, this chocolate and espresso mousse cake fits the bill. Instead of butter, it’s made with olive oil and there’s very little added sugar. The rest is just eggs and espresso coffee. It’s dark and fudgy, and would be great served with fresh raspberries.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Meatloaf

What’s not too love about meatloaf? Problem is, it can be high in saturated fat from the sausage meat and the beef. You can swap out these and use turkey mince. As long as your recipe has plenty of seasoning in it, like Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup and herbs, it won’t be bland. You could adapt our recipe and just replace the three meats with the same weight of turkey mince.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chicken gyros

There’s no better time to try our homemade healthy chicken gyros if you’ve got a kebab craving. Spicy marinated chicken is served with plenty of salad and a tasty tzatziki made from yogurt, mint, lemon and cucumber. It’s all wrapped in a lovely warm pitta.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chocolate fridge bars

It’s nice to have a healthy chocolate treat from time to time. This recipe is made with puréed chickpeas, peanut butter and dates – there’s no butter added and only natural sugars. They’re also very rich so you only need a small portion to hit the spot.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chilli con carne

Make your meaty chilli a little less meaty, by halving the quantity of beef and adding black beans or white cannellini beans instead. The favourite guacamole side is healthy, if a little calorific, but you may want to ditch the sour cream once in a while. Why not try our completely vegetarian version, which is also vegan, and ready in about 10 minutes – perfectly comforting and so simple.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chicken pot pie

A classic chicken pot pie doesn’t need to have a rich, creamy sauce. Our healthier version involves poaching a whole chicken with vegetables so it’s delightfully tender. The sauce is simply the thickened stock in which you’ve poached the chicken. You could really load it up with more vegetables too – whatever’s in the fridge, really.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Stir-fry

A stir-fry should be healthy but sometimes the vegetables can be over-cooked, thus losing essential vitamins, and the dish can be too oily. Our veggie recipe is made with cashew nuts and six different vegetables, with a simple sauce of soy, chilli, garlic and ginger.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Fish pie

So many recipes for fish pie are loaded with cream and butter, but you can make a healthier version. Try making a mash with canned butter beans instead, also adding an extra protein boost. Drain and rinse the beans, put into a pan with the juice and zest of a lemon, heat, season then mash. Try it as a topping on our fish pie recipe.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Fish and chips

Classic British fish and chips (chunky fries) can easily be made healthier. After all, if you serve it with a big bowl of peas, it’s a well-balanced meal with plenty of nutrients – protein, carbs, fibre, vitamins and minerals. The deep-frying is the problem but you can cook it all in the oven. Cut unpeeled potatoes into chips and toss in a little oil. Flour, egg and breadcrumb pieces of fish. Cook the chips on a lined baking sheet for 35 minutes in a hot oven, then add the fish and cook for 10–15 minutes further.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Chocolate mousse

A good homemade chocolate mousse can be much healthier than you think. You don’t need double cream or cream cheese to achieve that rich, silky texture. Our ultimate chocolate mousse recipe is made with just dark chocolate, eggs and a very small amount of sugar. Or try our dairy and egg-free version which is made with bananas and cocoa powder.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Cauliflower rice

If you’re looking for a low-carb alternative to pilau rice, this cauliflower rice dish will really hit the spot. Blitz a cauliflower in a food processor, then fry with spices, tomato, onions and peppers. You could stir in any vegetables you have – sweetcorn, broccoli or carrot would work well.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Gnocchi

Ah gnocchi – little pillows of potato loveliness served with a buttery sauce and lashings of Parmesan. Such a great dish but not so light on the calorie count. We have a healthier version where the gnocchi are made with pumpkin, rather than potato, and dressed in a sage and almond pesto with sun-dried tomatoes.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Breakfast pancakes

There’s absolutely nothing unhealthy about a breakfast pancake but they do fall down on the healthy eating front when we dredge them in maple syrup and top with crisp bacon. Try serving them with fresh berries and fat-free Greek yogurt instead. We’ll allow a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup too.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Banana ice cream

A healthier ice cream is just what everyone is looking for. This recipe doesn’t require any churning – it’s all blended in a food processor before freezing. It’s made with bananas, Greek yogurt and cinnamon, with a little sweetener and honey.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Lasagne

A hearty favourite, lasagne stacks up on the saturated fat and calorie count. So we’ve lightened it up a little, without sacrificing the great combination of pasta, tomato sauce and melted cheese. We’ve ditched the meat and made it veggie instead. It’s much quicker to make than a classic lasagne and contains five different vegetables.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Shepherd’s pie

It’s easy to make British comfort food shepherd’s pie healthier. Try replacing half the meat with brown lentils, and add mushrooms for an extra savoury taste. Instead of just potato, make a mash of different vegetables to top it – try parsnip, sweet potato, celeriac and carrot. Or go full-on vegetarian with our recipe which you can adapt with different mash ingredients.

food, your favourite comfort foods – but healthier

Margherita pizza

A takeaway pizza tends to be over-loaded with stringy cheese, a thick crust and a sugary sauce. Plus, it’s a fun project to make your own and you’re in complete control of the toppings. A healthier version, with a thin crust, homemade sauce and fresh mozzarella, doesn’t skip on the joy of eating pizza.

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