With the temperatures dropping lower every day, it’s hard not to indulge with our favorite comfort foods while snuggling up in your coziest sweatpants, watching the latest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” (Yes, that’s still on TV.) Since that’s exactly how I ended my day last night, I can attest that this struggle is real indeed.If you put in some extra legwork, though, it’s easy to lighten up recipes for your favorite comfort foods with simple substitutions. Here are five of the healthiest versions of our starchiest, cheesiest comfort food favorites:


1. Whole Wheat Pizza:Pizza can officially dump the “junk food” label with this nutritious recipe. Adding veggies and swapping in whole wheat dough allows for a healthier palate-pleaser.Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • marinara sauce
  • fresh mozzarella (sliced thin)
  • vegetable toppings (sliced thin)
  • fresh basil
  • dried oregano

Instructions:Combine flours, yeast, salt, 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 ½ cups of water in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and set aside (not in the fridge, leave it at room temperature). Let the dough sit for 6 to 12 hours. Once ready, preheat oven to 500 degrees and oil a baking sheet. Dust your hands with a small bit of white flour, and fold the dough over a few times. Press dough onto baking sheet, making it as thin as possible. Brush oil over the dough, spread marinara sauce, and lay mozzarella on top. Place your favorite thinly sliced vegetables on top for added nutrition. Bake for 8 to12 minutes and enjoy!Recipe courtesy of cheesepleasebyjess.blogspot.com 


2. Banana Pancakes:Instead of ordering diner pancakes, smothered in syrup and butter, here is a low-carb, portion-controlled alternative for mini pancakes!Ingredients:

  • 1 very ripe (i.e. brownish) banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:Mash the banana in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the two eggs. Combine eggs with the banana and whisk until completely combined. Add in salt and cinnamon. Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat. After spraying with cooking spray. Use a tablespoon to drop batter onto the skillet. Let sit for a few minutes before flipping and letting cook for an additional minute. Remove to plate and top with sugar-free syrup!Recipe courtesy of theseasonedmom.com


3. Baked Chicken Fingers:Crave the crunch of chicken fingers, but trying to cut back your fat intake? Baking instead of frying these tenders will satisfy your healthy needs.Ingredients:

  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins cut into strips
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 eggs

Instructions:Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line baking sheets. Mix together panko, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat all three eggs together. Dip each chicken strip into the egg mixture. Once coated, cover it with the panko mixture, making sure each strip is generously covered. Put each chicken strip on the baking sheets and place in your oven for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes is up, turn on broiler and broil for another 5 minutes to add extra crisp. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (ketchup being your best low-calorie option).Recipe courtesy of tablefortwoblog.com


4. Healthy Mac and Cheese:Treat yourself with this childhood pastime without the questionable powdered cheese mix and globs of butter.Ingredients:

  • 12 oz uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 ½ Tbsp light butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup reduced-fat, shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions:Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. In a skillet, on low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour, keeping mixture continuously moving. Add diced onion, cooking until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth and milk, and raise the heat until the mixture boils (continue to whisk frequently). After 10 to 12 minutes, the sauce should have thickened. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat. Mix in cheese until it’s melted. Then add cooked macaroni and stir well.Recipe courtesy of skinnymom.com 


5. Avocado and Tomato Grilled Cheese:Yearning for the ultimate comfort food? The avocado adds creaminess while the tomatoes add flavor to this already mouth-watering sandwich.Ingredients: (makes 4 sandwiches)

  • ¾ cups white cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices of multigrain bread
  • 8 thin tomato slices
  • 1 ripe, peeled avocado, cut thinly
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions:Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cheddar cheese over each of the bread slices. Once covered, top with two tomato slices each. Lay avocado slices evenly throughout each sandwich and sprinkle salt and pepper. Spray pan with cooking spray and heat on stovetop at medium temperature. Place sandwiches on pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side (or until bread is clearly toasted). Dig in!Recipe courtesy of myrecipes.com Related Articles:The Science of Comfort FoodHealthy Foods to Satisfy Your Common Cravings