Beach time has come and gone. And you know what that means… ‘Tis the season to don a hoodie and cozy up with a bowl of chili, mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. But just because you’ve retired your swimsuit for the year, doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to elastic waist pants.
These 13 skinny comfort food recipes deliver all the soul-warming flavor you remember from your mom’s or grandma’s kitchen — but without the hefty diet damage. So go ahead and have a night spent on the couch with these delicious dishes. It’ll be our secret they’re still healthy and nutritious.
13 Favorite Comfort Food Recipes, Slimmed Down
A big bowl of mac and cheese with just 10 grams of fat — and loads of vitamin A, iron and protein? Yes, it’s possible! The list of ingredients that make it light yet delectable: nutritional yeast, cashews, carrots and Dijon mustard. Photo and recipe: Renee Blair / Life by Daily Burn
To keep the carb and calorie count in check, this hearty beef and tomato soup recipe suggests breaking up lasagna noodles into bite-sized pieces. Start with low-sodium jarred marinara and beef broth to create the base. The best part: Prep time for this slow cooker soup is just five minutes. Seriously. Photo and recipe: Blair Lonergan / The Seasoned Mom
If you despise doing dishes, you’ll love this individually-portioned chicken pot pie recipe. Heat up the roux, a combo of flour and butter, in the microwave in the same mug that the itty bitty casserole bakes. Topping your pie with filo instead of pastry keeps the calorie and fat count low, while maintaining all of the crunchy components you crave. Photo and recipe: Carmen Sturdy / Life by Daily Burn
Step aside, potatoes. This lower carb side dish maintains all the rich goodness you dream about. That’s thanks to a scoop of cream cheese. To trim down the fat and calories even more, cut the amount of butter in half. Photo and recipe: Sarah Bond / Live Eat Learn
The key to enjoying an overflowing bowl of Italian fare while watching your calories: Trading traditional white pasta for a similarly delicious vegetable version. Since both offer a blank flavor slate, as long as your topping packs loads of seasonings (like this basil-infused vegan sauce), you’ll finish feeling super-satisfied. Photo and recipe: Renee Blair / Life by Daily Burn
A strong source of protein and fiber, yet relatively low in sodium and fat, this speedy turkey and bean chili recipe offers few enough calories to save room for a side of cornbread. Or dessert. Or beer. To each their own! Photo and recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn
Instead of a carb coma, this lightened-up meatball dinner will put you in prime muscle-building mode. Each serving has plenty of protein, plus the zoodles offer folate and magnesium, two nutrients that support metabolic and muscle performance. Photo and recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn
You have our permission to eat each and every one of these surprisingly high-protein cauliflower and cottage cheese bites. If you’re not following a gluten-free diet, feel free to use whole wheat panko for a fiber boost. Photo and recipe: Taylor Kiser / Food Faith Fitness
Whether you serve this light green bean casserole as part of a holiday meal or with a weeknight dinner, you’ll feel good knowing it’s clean in a couple of ways. First, this recipe opts for lowfat cottage cheese, milk, and whole-wheat flour instead of condensed soup. Then it replaces canned fried onions with homemade whole-wheat panko- and Parmesan-dusted onions. Talk about yum! Photo and recipe: Jordan Sward / Smile Sandwich
Sneak in a dose of veggies, fruit and whole grains all before noon with this healthy waffle recipe. Garnishing with a DIY blueberry topping, rather than a pool of maple syrup helps keep the added sugar count in check. Meanwhile, blending oats, mashed sweet potato and flax seed into the batter cranks up the fiber count. Photo and recipe: Emilie Hebert / Emilie Eats
With all the elements of classic Margherita pizza, but with much fewer calories, this quick pasta recipe will become a star on your healthy dinner rotation. To lighten things up even more, sub in whole-wheat pasta or spiralized vegetable noodles (zucchini, sweet potato or butternut squash would all work well!), for the regular spaghetti. Photo and recipe: Jen Sattley / Carlsbad Cravings
With just 175 calories and not a hint of gluten per piece, this buttermilk-marinated chicken dinner is perfect to serve at a potluck — especially one that includes other diet- (or wheat-) conscious diners. Pair it with a big vegetable salad or a side of roasted veggies for a well-balanced, high-protein meal. Photo and recipe: Carmen Sturdy / Life by Daily Burn
This ooey gooey skillet casserole is a blast from childhood dinners past. It’s made with macaroni noodles (again, try whole-wheat for added nutrition), ground beef, a squeeze of ketchup and plenty of cheddar cheese. It’s basically two of everyone’s favorite meals — burgers and mac and cheese — combined into one. Hidden veggies like onion, carrot, celery and red bell pepper get you even closer to your daily quota of vitamins and fiber. Photo and recipe: Allison Mattina / Celebrating Sweets