20 Winter Comfort Foods That Don't Pack on the Pounds

By Allison Day

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As we head into the season of heavy, satisfying comfort foods, it’s all too easy to see the pounds come on — and not so easy to take them off. Using bold flavours, nutrient-dense whole grains, produce and lean proteins (along with a few healthy cooking tricks) you can enjoy your favourite comfort foods without the weight gain. Balance out your weekly winter menu by incorporating a few of our top healthy comfort food recipes to help fill you up, not out.

Creamy Vegan Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo

This dairy-free vegan pasta recipe eschews cream, gluten and eggs, while still managing to taste decadent. Gluten-free brown rice noodles, along with a silky cashew Alfredo sauce and mushrooms combine to form an indulgent dish for every comfort food craving, regardless of dietary preference.

Get the recipe for Creamy Vegan Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo

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Skillet Rosemary Chicken

This one-pan meal will fill your house with savoury aromas that ignite a comfort food feeling before you even take the first bite. Lean chicken is paired with zippy lemon and potatoes for a homestyle dinner that allows you to stick to your nutrition goals while keeping your taste buds and family happy.

Get the recipe for Skillet Rosemary Chicken

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Giada's Cioppino

Halibut, shrimp, mussels and clams come together in a light tomato broth for a wintery Italian classic that's light yet substantial. Keep a loaf of crusty whole grain sourdough bread on hand to soak up the juices in this one-pot meal.

Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis' Cioppino

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Stuffed Acorn Squash with Red Wine Cranberry Sauce

You won’t miss the meat in this hearty, wholesome superfood stuffed squash. Packed with whole grain brown and wild rice, kale and creamy tahini, it’s a complete meal that will impress any guest, carnivore or veggie-lover. (And you can eat the bowl!)

Get the recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash with Red Wine Cranberry Sauce

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Chickpea Curry with Rice

Curry is easy to warm up to, supplying a whack of antioxidants from the variety of spices it contains, which double as calorie-free flavour boosters, so you can skip the heavy-hand of butter and oil. Coconut milk and chickpeas meld for a creamy, creamless vegan curry that comes together in no time.

Get the recipe for The Pioneer Woman's Chickpea Curry with Rice

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Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

In place of starchy, blood sugar-spiking white potatoes, this newfangled turkey shepherd’s pie gets a vibrant blanket of fibre- and potassium-rich sweet potatoes. Not only do sweet potatoes have more flavour than white potatoes, they’re a source of beta-carotene, which helps nourish dry winter skin.

Get the recipe for Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

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Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Risotto

Whole grain barley, packed with a nutty taste and chewy texture, smooths out into creamy risotto, replacing traditional white rice. Higher in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals than its classic counterpart, it’s a healthier winter comfort food you’ll want to enjoy every week — and making it in the slow cooker means you can.

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Risotto

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Hot and Sour Soup with Noodles

While some gravitate towards more neutral tastes when it comes to comfort food, others crave the bold (and very warming) heat of chili. Hot and sour soup, a take-out staple, can be made at home, nourishing the body and soul with a rich, protein-packed broth. This winter dinner is ideal when you’re under the weather, but will satisfy any day of the week.

Get the recipe for Hot and Sour Soup with Noodles

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Vegetarian Tourtière Bake

Tourtière is a French-Canadian winter meal worth indulging in now and again, but for those in-between tourtière, opt for a bottomless veggie version packed with protein-rich lentils, earthy mushrooms and crunchy walnuts.

Get the recipe for Vegetarian Tourtière Bake

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Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

Cheesy stuffed shells are given a healthy winter makeover, lightening things up with lean turkey and fibre-packed artichokes. You’ll feel good about reaching for seconds with this Italian comfort food classic.

Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis' Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

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Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

Pureeing naturally creamy vegetables into soup, such as butternut squash, makes them taste rich and laden with heavy ingredients, while remaining a comforting option for cold days. Additionally, pureed soups make you feel more full than broth-based versions, boosting their comfort food appeal even more.

Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis’ Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

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Sweet Potato Nacho Bake

Skip fried corn chips and create a festive, loaded nacho platter with hearty roasted sweet potatoes instead. This shareable app is ideal for winter entertaining, but devouring it as a main course is more than acceptable when it comes to these lightened-up nachos.

Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Nacho Bake

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Tofu Chili with Avocado Salad

There are few things more comforting than a big bowl of chili. Make this meal lighter and suitable for vegetarians, while still pleasing omnivores, by replacing beef with tofu. And instead of sour cream, reach for the healthy fats and fibre in a creamy, satisfying chili topper that skips the dairy.

Get the recipe for Tofu Chili with Avocado Salad

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Chicken and Quinoa Soup

Starchy noodles are replaced with quinoa for a warming winter bowl of soup that’s as cozy as can be. Curl up on the couch with this soothing meal and satisfy your comfort food cravings.

Get the recipe for Chicken and Quinoa Soup

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Whole-Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut, Orange, and Saffron

Whole roasted cauliflower is sure to get the conversation started. Infused with wintertime flavours of orange and saffron, this one-pot wonder is worthy of the spotlight at your next gathering. Serve with a side salad and roasted salmon for a complete, healthy comfort food dinner.

Get the recipe for Whole-Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut, Orange, and Saffron

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Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup

Heavy turkey dinners are often uninspiring, but turkey itself is a lean protein — and blank canvas — ready to soak up the flavour. This familiar yet unique winter soup employs iron-rich kale, brown rice and a fragrant broth for a comfort food meal that can be enjoyed al desko or in the comfort of your home.

Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis' Turkey, Kale & Brown Rice Soup

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Healthy Breakfast Bake with Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is in season now, acting as a vitamin-rich, edible bowl for just about anything. This recipe, geared towards the breakfast-for-dinner crowd, brings the comfort food factor without the need for starchy carbs.

Get the recipe for Healthy Breakfast Bake with Spaghetti Squash

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Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew

Sometimes, we all need a break from beef stew, and this turkey version provides a lighter, leaner twist on the comforting classic. Spiced to perfection, and full of veggies and lean protein that simmer away in a slow cooker while you’re at work, it’s a meal that won’t pack on the pounds, while still packing in the flavour.

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew

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Orange Chicken Tagine

This complete-meal stew won’t leave you feeling heavy. The trick to this tagine is its layering of spices and sweetness, making it taste indulgent while remaining a wholesome weekday option that’s sophisticated enough for entertaining.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Orange Chicken Tagine

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Roasted Root Vegetable Pasta with Walnuts

Made with a variety of hearty winter root vegetables, omega-3-rich walnuts and dotted with creamy goat cheese, this pasta is both elegant and healthy. Use whole wheat noodles to boost the fibre and lend a pleasing nutty taste that compliments the walnuts.

Get the recipe for Roasted Root Vegetable Pasta with Walnuts

Allison Day is a cookbook author, nutritionist (RHN) and the creator of the award-winning food blog Yummy Beet.

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Originally Published:https://www.foodnetwork.ca/healthy-eating/photos/healthy-recipes-winter-comfort-foods/#!creamy-vegan-mushroom-fettuccine