5 Comfort-Food Flips That Transform Fat Bombs Into Muscle-Building Meals


When you’re in the mood for comfort food, you want it to taste like it’s supposed to—rich, delicious…comforting—not all “healthified” (“low fat!” “sugar free!”) and cardboard-y.

Well, prepare your taste buds for the surprise of a lifetime, because we’ve come up with recipes that do the impossible: combine solid nutrition with real, decadent indulgence. We’re talking gooey mac and cheese, crispy fish-and-chips, downright sweet brownies—all just slightly modified so you can enjoy the flavors you crave without the pounds that usually come with them. Trust us, even a health food junkie will find these dishes delectable.

Because the only way you’ll stick with eating good food is if it tastes better than junk food.

1. Cornflake-crusted fish & chips

Makes: 4 Servings


For fish
– 1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
– Pinch of black pepper
– 1 tsp ground flaxseed
– 4 cod fillets (3 oz each), without skin

For Greek yogurt tartar sauce
– 1 cup 0% Greek yogurt
– 2 tbsp sweet relish
– 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
– 1 tsp chopped fresh dill
– 1 tsp Dijon mustard
– Juice of 1 lemon
– Pinch of kosher salt
– Pinch of cayenne pepper
– Dill pickles

For cheesy polenta tots  
– 1 (18-oz) sleeve organic polenta, cut into 1-inch rounds, then diced into bite-size pieces
– Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
– 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
– Pinch of black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, pepper, and flaxseed.
2. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray and place fish on it. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the fish. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. In a bowl, combine yogurt, relish, chives, dill, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
4. Place polenta pieces in a bowl and drizzle oil on top. Add Parmesan and pepper. Gently toss until polenta is coated.
5. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Place the coated polenta bites on the sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
6. Divide polenta tots among plates and top each with a piece of fish; serve with a few pickles and a dollop of tartar sauce.

Nutrition (per serving)
388 calories, 41g protein, 30g carbs, 12g fat

2. Butternut squash mac & cheese

Makes: 6 Servings


For mac & cheese
– 1 lb rice pasta
– 1 tsp olive oil
– 1/2 medium onion, grated
– 1 tsp liquid amino acids
– 1 tsp ground pepper
– 1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1/4 tsp nutmeg
– 2 cups frozen or fresh butternut squash
– 1 cup chicken stock
– 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
– 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese

For garnish
– 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
– 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
– 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Boil pasta and cook until tender, 12 to 14 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, onion, amino acids, pepper, thyme, cayenne, and nutmeg. Stir until onions are translucent.
3. Add squash, stock, almond milk, and yeast and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. With a hand immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth. Stir in cheese.
4. Strain pasta and stir it into the sauce.
5. In a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic, breadcrumbs, and parsley and cook for a minute. Serve pasta in bowls, garnished with breadcrumb mixture.

Nutrition Per Serving
364 calories, 10g protein, 68g carbs, 7g fat

3. Quinoa meat loaf

Makes: 8 Servings


For meat loaf
– 1 cup quinoa, cooked
– 1 tsp thyme
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp black pepper
– 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
– 1 small carrot, chopped
– 1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
– 1/2 cup arugula
– 2 garlic cloves
– 21/2 lbs lean ground turkey
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 egg
– 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

For glaze
– 1/2 cup organic ketchup
– 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tsp Tabasco sauce 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine cooked quinoa, thyme, chili powder, black pepper, and almond milk. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine onion, carrot, bell pepper, arugula, and garlic. Pulse until all are well chopped. Be careful not to overchop.
3. Transfer vegetables to a large mixing bowl and add turkey and the quinoa mixture. Add salt and egg. Gently combine.
4. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Mold the meat into a rectangular shape in the center. In a bowl, mix all the glaze ingredients together and brush over meat loaf.
5. Bake meat loaf for about 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is well done (165°F on a meat thermometer). Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Nutrition (per serving)
345 calories, 41g protein, 12g carbs, 17g fat

4. Sloppy Joes

Makes: 4 Servings

– 4 medium sweet potatoes
– 1 tbsp coconut oil
– 1 lb lean ground turkey
– 2 (10 oz) jars roasted tomato salsa
– 1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
– 1 tsp honey
– 2 tbsp apple-cider vinegar
– 1 tbsp honey mustard
– 1⁄4 tsp kosher salt
– Ground pepper
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut sweet potatoes lengthwise, deep enough to open them in half. Line a baking sheet with foil and place sweet potatoes flesh side down. Bake for 25 minutes.
2. Place a skillet on medium-high heat and add oil. Add turkey and break it up with a spoon. Lower heat to medium-low and cook the meat.
3. Add salsa, tomato sauce, honey, vinegar, and mustard. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until the mixture thickens.
4. When potatoes are done, scrape them with a fork to loosen the skin. Place potatoes, open side up, on the plate, and scoop a heaping ladle of the turkey mixture into the centers. Garnish each plate with a sprinkle of parsley.

Nutrition (per serving)
446 calories, 35g protein, 44g carbs, 16g fat

5. Brownies with whipped mint cashew cream

Makes: 16 Servings

For brownies
– 12 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
– 1 package silken tofu
– 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 3 tbsp cacao nibs (or mini dark chocolate chips), reserve 1 tbsp for garnish
– 2 tbsp vanilla extract
– 2 tbsp chia seeds
– Dash of cayenne pepper
– Pinch of kosher salt
– 6 tbsp brown rice flour
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tbsp sliced almonds

For mint cashew cream
– 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in warm water at least 15 minutes
– 5 cups fresh spinach
– 3/4 tbsp mint extract (or use 1⁄2 cup soaked fresh mint leaves)
– 2 tbsp maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a high-powered blender, add dates, tofu, cocoa powder, almond milk, 2 tbsp cacao nibs, vanilla, chia seeds, cayenne, and salt. Blend, periodically pausing the blender to scrape down the sides.
2. Add flour and baking powder and pulse the blender until incorporated but do not overblend. Coat a 9-by-9 baking dish with cooking spray and transfer the batter to the dish.
3. Top batter with the 1 tbsp reserved cacao nibs and almonds. Bake for 40 minutes, or until brownies are set. Let cool completely before cutting.
4. Place all cashew cream ingredients in the blender and blend. To serve, place a brownie on a plate and top with a dollop of the cashew cream. Garnish with a mint sprig, if you like.

Nutrition (per serving)
189 calories, 5g protein, 20g carbs, 12g fat

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