Fast and Fresh Comfort Food (Yes, It Exists!)

greek eggplant fries with lemon in bowl
Shhh... Don't tell Mom we're giving her classic comfort food recipes a healthy makeover! Our latest versions of lasagna, goulash, chicken noodle soup, strawberry shortcake, and more include garden-fresh ingredients and can be on the table in less than an hour. OK—go ahead and tell Mom you made these healthy comfort food recipes. She'll be proud!

Macaroni Alfredo with Pumpkin and Kale

Make macaroni an autumn comfort food treat with this variation using canned pumpkin. It's mixed right into creamy Alfredo sauce, so pumpkin-lovers can enjoy their favorite fall flavors in every bite. Stirring in fresh kale makes this comforting pasta recipe healthier, but it sure doesn't taste like it!

Ham and Spinach Two-Cheese Pasta

There's nothing more comforting than a casserole, but if you don't have time to make a whole pan of your favorite cheesy recipe, make these individual ham and spinach casseroles instead! Each one is filled with tender pasta, fresh spinach, ham, and a duo of Italian and Parmesan cheese. As a bonus, since these casseroles cook in individual ramekins, everyone can add a little extra of their favorite ingredient (extra cheese for us!).

Cheesy Butternut Squash Cavatappi Bake

You can always count on us to be in line for seconds of easy, cheesy pasta. While this yummy recipe has plenty of comfort food favorites (pasta, Fontina cheese, crispy bacon), it also has plenty of fresh ingredients too. Stirring in fresh butternut squash and cremini mushrooms helps make this super-delish take on macaroni and cheese healthier than most.

Hasselback Chicken

Dress up plain old chicken breasts with cheese, cheese, and more cheese! Use a Hasselback technique to stuff these chicken breasts with three different cheeses (Gouda, mozzarella, and goat cheese), fresh spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. And if that isn't an epic enough meal for you, add some kick by sprinkling on red pepper flakes.

Hot Grains Power Bowl

Yes, breakfast can be a comfort-food meal too. This steaming bowl of multigrain hot cereal will perk up a chilly morning all on its own, but we made it even tastier by mixing in shredded carrot, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried apricots, and orange zest. You know what that means: This healthy hot cereal bowl tastes just like carrot cake!

Chicken and Spinach Dumplings

Who could say no to a comforting bowl of chicken and dumplings? Not us, that's for sure! You might think serving up homemade chicken and dumplings in a warm, savory broth would take all day, but really, all you need is 45 minutes. The addition of fresh spinach and carrots help make this mouthwatering recipe good for you, too.

Chicken Alfredo Cauliflower Rice Bake

When we're craving comfort food, anything with Alfredo sauce is always at the top of our list. In this recipe, it's combined with another trendy favorite of ours, cauliflower rice. Serve this gooey, bread crumb-topped casserole (also featuring fresh spinach!) whenever you need a comfort food pick-me-up on a weeknight.

Fried Green Tomato Salad

Here's an example of Southern comfort food at its finest. Fried green tomatoes make any meal feel much more indulgent. The tomatoes for this recipe are made exactly as you'd expect: Dredged in flour, eggs, and cornmeal, then fried until they're golden brown and delicious. But you don't have to feel guilty about indulging in this fried food favorite because each slice sits on top of a healthy salad loaded with salad greens, radishes, and black-eyed peas.

Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza

Is there anything more comforting than a piping hot slice of pizza? We don't think so! Of course, this recipe takes it a step further and combines one of our favorite comfort foods with a heaping, healthy Caesar salad. Instead of traditional pizza toppings, load up your dough with fresh lettuce, grape tomatoes, and grilled chicken (plus Caesar salad dressing and mozzarella cheese, of course).

Artichoke and Cheese Chicken Breasts with Rosemary Baby Carrots

Say goodbye to plain pan sauce—once you taste these baked chicken breasts with artichoke hearts and soft cheese on top, you'll never go back. As an added bonus, you can bake baby carrots seasoned with rosemary right on the same sheet pan. There's nothing we love more than two-in-one dinner recipes!

Turkey Meat Loaf Pockets with Peach-Barbecue Glaze

That's right—we made this comfort food favorite just a little bit fresher. Stuff each individual turkey meat loaf with a blend of mixed vegetables for a healthy surprise in the middle.

Chicken Meatball Noodle Bowl

It's almost like chicken noodle soup! This recipe combines chicken meatballs with rice noodles, a warm pan sauce, and fresh herbs, lettuce, and carrots for pure comfort in a bowl.

Turkey-Carrot Goulash

Carrot "noodles" help make each piece of macaroni more nutritious, while ground turkey (in place of beef) cuts back on fat in this modern twist on Mom's classic goulash recipe. If fresh tomatoes are in season, chop up a few and stir them into the sauce, too.

Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese is always a comforting meal, but it's usually not the most healthy. Luckily, we found a fix with this recipe that stirs in chicken, spinach, and tomatoes alongside the usual cheddar cheese.

Spaghetti Squash "Pasta" with Marinara Sauce

Sure, you can make fresh tomato sauce, but why not give your noodles a fresh spin, too? You can stir together the sauce while the spaghetti squash cooks, so dinner comes together quickly.

Mediterranean Chickpea Chili

Chili becomes a fresh comfort food dish when you give it a Mediterranean twist. Just before serving, stir in fresh grape tomatoes so they keep their signature juiciness.

Chickpea Alfredo with Spring Veggies

Introducing vegan Alfredo! Just turn to the magic of nuts—cashews in this case—to replace the cream and cheese, and stir in spinach, asparagus, and peas for a color and nutrition boost.

Fresh Corn and Chicken Chowder

We don't know about you, but for us, a steaming hot bowl of creamy chowder defines comfort food. This recipe uses four fresh ears of sweet corn (no canned corn here!) and green sweet peppers for an ultrafresh meal.

Indonesian-Style Beef and Rice Bowls

Rice bowls can be more than carb bombs. This ground beef bowl packs cucumber, cabbage, peppers, and fresh herbs, too. Use brown rice instead of white for more fiber.

Muffuletta Hot Dogs

Mustard has had its day. Give your go-to ballpark grub a fresh finish with a relish of olives, tomatoes, and pepperoncini peppers for a topping that tastes like New Orleans' signature sandwich.

Best Strawberry Shortcake

What's more comforting than a slice of strawberry shortcake? This recipe contains luscious whipped cream sandwiched between two layers of flaky shortcake, with plenty of fresh strawberries piled on top.

Wild Mushroom Ravioli Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna in 25 minutes? With this easy skillet recipe, it's possible! To make this saucy, cheesy comfort food a little fresher, we stirred in 2 cups of fresh kale.

Orange-Simmered Pork Chops

A tender, juicy pork chop dinner is always a comfort, and this meal with a tropical twist is no different. Fresh mango, pineapple, and orange slices make a fruity and flavorful topping for this comforting and quick dinner.

Greek Eggplant Fries

Instead of deep-fried potatoes, serve your entrée with crispy oven-fried eggplant wedges. If you have a family of picky eaters, we’ll keep your secret that these Mediterranean-flavor “fries” actually count as a serving of vegetables.

Fresh Pea Risotto

Make your side dishes just as comforting as the main meal when you serve this creamy, dreamy risotto. Plus, it becomes a fresh and veggie-filled dish with just a few cups of bright green peas.

Tomato-Avocado Wafflewich

Give your grilled cheese a fresh upgrade by layering tomato and avocado slices with mozzarella cheese and bacon. We upped the comfort factor by using biscuits instead of bread, and melting all the ingredients together with just a few minutes in your waffle maker.

Dessert Pizza with Banana Ice Cream

Instead of curling up with a bowl of ice cream, snag a slice of this crisp rice cereal and banana ice cream pizza to satisfy your comfort food cravings. Top with a rainbow of your favorite fruit slices, and this gorgeous dessert pizza is ready to be devoured.

Fast Pho

Each 2-cup serving of this cozy Vietnamese noodle soup recipe contains just over 300 calories. Dress up your bowl with plenty of fresh herbs, peppers, bok choy, and bean sprouts to boost the crunch and nutrition factor.

Individual Squash Casseroles

Try this starch-free casserole (mushrooms, onion, summer squash, and homemade marinara) when you’re craving a warm, cheesy dish—without all the calories that usually come with it.

Cheesy Red Pepper Pizza

Nothing says comfort food like a slice of golden-crusted pizza loaded with melty mozzarella cheese. But instead of canned tomato sauce, this pizza uses fresh tomatoes and roasted red peppers for its signature flavor.

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