Comfort Food Re-do: Lighter Versions of the Classics

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lighter comfort food recipes

Fall is all about comfort food. As the temperature continues to drop (and drop and drop…summer, come back!), everyone is craving heavier meals, sweet treats and sweats on the couch. Just because you’re watching your waistline doesn’t mean you’re stuck with carrot sticks and water while every else enjoys fall’s finest.

Here are some of our favorite recipe re-dos for healthy-twists on fall favorites so you can still indulge in the season’s best comfort foods.

Mac & Cheese: When it comes to Mac & Cheese, if you want to make it healthier, you have to make it yourself. Opt for whole-wheat pasta and skim milk, and consider using lighter cheese alternatives, like Laughing Cow, to get the cheesy taste without a lot of bulk.
Must-Try Recipe – Skinnytaste’s Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac & Cheese

Pancakes: The traditionally heavy breakfast fare can be lightened up with banana, which keeps them moist, while ground oats eliminate the need for flour. Add milk (or a milk substitute) and egg to complete the batter. Next comes the fun part with your add-ins: dark chocolate chips, walnuts, diced fruit – whatever your heart desires!
Must-Try Recipe – Gluten Free Blondie’s Flourless Blueberry Pancakes

Pizza: Surprisingly, pizza can actually be a very healthy dish if made right, but similar to the Mac & Cheese, you have to make pizza at home to reap the health benefits. Make your own crust or go with whole wheat. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use alternatives such as pita, matzo, tortillas, or even cauliflower as your base. Then load it up with veggies and homemade tomato sauce to keep calories low and satisfaction high.
Must-Try Recipe – Eat Yourself Skinny’s Margherita Pizza

Apple Muffins: If you’re like me, you need to take advantage of the season’s produce – and put it in everything. Muffins are a must for fall’s apple harvest, but to make them a bit healthier use whole-wheat flour, substitute applesauce for some of the oils and add flaxseed for a nutritious boost.
Must-Try Recipe – Cookie & Kate’s Healthy Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Bonus Tip – Halloween Candy: Ah, the old one-for-you, one-for-me mentality when it comes to distributing candy to trick-or-treaters. How can you bypass this food trap? Buy candy you don’t like (Hate peanuts, go for Snickers; despise caramel, pick up the Twix!) or at the beginning of the night set aside a few pieces for you to munch on. Toss leftovers in the freezer so you are less tempted to mindlessly munch.

Whether you’re using strategic swaps to cut calories or adding good-for-you ingredients to boost nutrition in your favorite recipes, don’t worry about sitting on the sidelines this fall. Eat up!

we heartsters – what are your favorite fall recipes? Have you tried lightening them up with baking swaps or special recipe adjustments?

photo: we heart this


  • marissa

    Marissa is a public relations professional by day and jewelry designer and entrepreneur by night. She has an affinity for creativity and inspiring style and loves writing, reading and being in the sun.


  1. @marissa – I love these ideas to make loved recipes lighter! I make homemade tomato sauce every year. Once you get used to the homemade taste, t is impossible to go back to store bought.

    I am going to have to try adding a banana next time we have pancakes! Thanks for all of the tips.

  2. @marissa, I’m a starving Marvin right now! Just love your lighter recipes! They all look amazing! YUMMY Thanks!!

  3. Ooo, that mac and cheese is calling my name. I’m lactose intolerant, so I can eat mac and cheese but only if it’s made with lactose free milk and super aged cheese. This would make up for missing the ooey-gooey goodness of more creamy mac and cheese… I bet this could even be churched up with a little dijon mustard or hot sauce, give it a little kick without adding calories!

    I don’t have any favorite fall recipes, but I’m trying to create some! I like to experiment so much that I don’t repeat a lot of recipes, but Pinterest is helping me keep track of my cooking successes, so hopefully I’ll have some next year…

  4. Mac and cheese is on my top ten list of comfort foods! So much cheese equals happy people!

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