7 Healthy Hacks On Comfort Foods You Love

One of the hardest parts of following a healthy, nutritious diet sans saturated fat, sugar and higher cholesterol levels is having to say goodbye to our hearty food favorites. The good news? With some simple changes, you can have the comfort foods you grew up eating, but disguised in a better-for-you recipe.

Don’t believe us? Enter these seven twists that not only satisfy your cravings, but also nourish and fuel your body with the right stuff to tackle your next day of classes.

Skinny Lasagna Rolls
What’s not to love about lasagna? If not for the fact that it’s loaded with creamy ricotta cheese, then surely because it’s served doused in delicious marinara sauce. But the good news is you can still enjoy this filling meal without the heavy ingredients. The secret involves swapping regular noodles for whole wheat ones and using skim- and low-fat versions of ricotta, mozzarella and cottage cheeses. Add in a little extra spinach for an added fiber kick, and you’ve just shaved off some serious fat, sodium and carbs. 
Get the recipe: Skinny Ms.

5 Ingredient Quinoa Mac n’ Cheese
Unless you’re severely lactose intolerant (and if so, we apologize in advance), there’s no denying the mouthwatering delight found in a big ol’ spoonful of mac and cheese. But, unfortunately, this childhood go-to has pretty much zero nutrition. That is, until you’ve tried this recipe that sneaks quinoa into every bite. What you get from adding this super grain into the cheesy goodness is a ton of protein, fiber—and some hearty iron (extra important after a hard workout!).
Get the recipe: Simply Quinoa

Oven-Fried Chicken & Waffles
Savory and sweet? Sign us up! But while this beloved brunch staple is, indeed, delicious, it’s also fried, syrup-soaked and served with a side of bacon. This healthier version gives you the same, satisfying flavor you love without all the carbs, fats and excess sodium. Simply sneak in some banana, egg white, skim milk and applesauce into the waffle mix for an all-natural sweetness that pairs with cornflake-crusted and oven-baked chicken. Go ahead and add some turkey bacon on the side, guilt-free!
Get the recipe: Skinny Mom

Healthier Pasta Carbonara
If you’ve been saving this high-carb, creamy meal for your eat-what-I-want Sundays, we give you full permission to add it to your menu lineup any other day of the week. How is it even possible to make a healthier, post-workout-approved alfredo sauce? The key ingredient here is cauliflower—mashed up and blended finely with yellow onion, garlic, broth and low-fat milk. You even cut enough corners that you can add in actual pork bacon and fully loaded Parmesan cheese!
Get the recipe: Leelalicious

Clam Chowder
When the chilly weather sets in, there’s almost nothing better than sitting under a warm blanket and eating a big bowl of creamy chowder. But after an hour-long kickboxing class, you know that sipping on this soupy goodness will cost you your entire workout (if not more!). Don’t worry—this simple, lower-cal way to indulge is the way to go. Just add in extra veggies and use low sodium vegetable stock and fat free half-and-half instead. Now say hello to your 350-calorie dinner that’s loaded with vitamins C and A!
Get the recipe: Healthy Delicious

Spicy Jicama Fries With Chipotle Aioli
Now you can enjoy your fries—and a whole lot of them! While potatoes aren’t the healthiest “vegetable” in the bunch (they’re known to raise your blood sugar and don’t provide much health benefit), a tasty replacement that also gives a nice, starchy flavor is jicama. It’s a root vegetable used in many Caribbean dishes that is not only low in calories, but high in a few vital nutrients. In fact, in just one serving you’re getting ¼ of your daily fiber intake! So go ahead and sub jicama for potato and season as you please. 
Get the recipe: Charm

Shepard’s Pie
The meat and veggie parts of this recipe are anything but bad for you—lean meat packs a protein punch and vegetables give you all sorts of vitamins and nutrients you need to keep your bod strong. But the mashed potato part (which represents more than half of the dish) adds unhealthy fats. Instead, swap finely chopped cauliflower for half of the amount of potatoes. Trust us, you won’t even taste the difference, but you will feel it the following day!
Get the recipe: Iowa Girl Eats

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.