Healthy Comfort Foods

My sister Alicia is the author of The Accidental Diet. It’s a hilarious, memoir-esque read with some sage wisdom regarding the yo-yo or fad diet vs counting calories in ‘normal’ foods.

I’m usually in the throes of battling the Marriage Belly, since for some reason living with someone and being the happiest one has ever been in one’s life can tend to make one fat. Also, since eating is communal, it’s easy to feel like you have to keep up with the person you stare at across the table every night.

I’ve found success using the My Fitness Pal app with a few close pals. It’s a calorie tracker, and it points out to me on pretty much a daily basis that, oh yeah, veggies are pretty low in calories. The problem is, most people think veggies and they think salads (which, to me, not only feel like labor to prepare, they feel like labor to eat).

Cooking up some veggies and chicken

I dislike salads unless I’m at work…. I like to come home after work to  make a nice, hot, savory meal. Preferably one that goes well with a glass of wine. With these recipes, I can pretty much chomp a decent portion of them without becoming obese, and also feel like I’m coming home and getting my cooking session in. (And have calories left over for wine!) These are healthy, nutritious, all but one can easily be made vegan or vegetarian, low-calorie, and naturally gluten-free! They’re also pretty much a cinch to prepare in under 15 minutes.

Veggies with Marinara and Cheese

This is pretty much my Magic Diet Food.  It’s pasta without the pasta. Add in a 6 0z glass of wine and you have a yummy dinner for around 350 calories! If you were to add about 2 oz of grilled chicken breast cubes to it, you’d add another 100 calories.

2 cups Frozen veggie blend ( I use Normandy style, which is essentially broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and summer squash, but you could chop up fresh ones too).

1 cup Pasta Sauce

1 slice low fat or soy/rice cheese

Optional 2 oz cubed pre-prepared grilled chicken breast

2 tsp cracked black pepper

  • Steam, saute covered in 2 tbsp water, or nuke veggies  and pepper for a few minutes.
  • Top with heated marinara sauce (plain flavor, or something with spice like roasted garlic or portobello is fun too). Eat as is or top with a reasonable portion of your favorite shredded or thinly sliced cheese.

Calorie Summary:

  • 2 cups of steamed Normandy-style veggies is 80 calories.
  • 1 thin slice of low fat Jarlsberg swiss is 50, or one slice of Rice cheese is 40. An oz of part skim shredded mozzarella will run you about 72.
  • 1 cup of Portobello flavor pasta sauce is 46 calories.


Portobellos with Arugula

This is a breadless take on one of my favorite sandwiches.

Portobello caps ( 1 per person)

Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, minced garlic clove

1/4 c Roasted red peppers, drained.

Soy or regular mozzarella, thinly sliced

1/4 avocado

1/4 cup Arugula

  • Brush Portobello caps with a mix of garlic, black pepper, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tbsp olive or canola oil (this is where your fats will come in so use the oil sparingly).
  • Grill or saute on medium heat, turning a few times.
  • Top with mozzarella and peppers, cover until cheese is melted.
  • Serve hot, topped with thin avocado slices or an avocado smear and arugula

Riceless Stuffed Peppers

I make these without the traditional rice since protein or only veggies cuts the calories drastically. Multiply the recipe per person.

Large red or green peppers ( I prefer red, they are sweeter and have more flavor), one per person

1 Minced garlic clove, 1 tsp coarse ground pepper

1/2 cup per person Ground turkey, or for vegetarian/vegan, just double the amount of mushrooms used.

1/2 cup chopped crimini or white button mushrooms

1/4 cup minced yellow or white onion

2 tbsp marinara sauce

1/4 cup sliced or shredded regular or soy/rice cheese

  • Place turkey meat and/or all veggies except peppers in saute pan. Add in all other seasonings but sauce and cheese.  Brown in pan over medium heat.
  • Wash peppers, cut tops off, set aside, and scoop out insides. Discard insides.
  • Turn on broiler, fill peppers with meat mixture, top with sauce and cheese.
  • Cover with pepper top and broil 3 minutes. Remove top and broil another minute until cheese is browned. Serve hot.


Saucy Chicken Breast With Cheesy Broccoli

Cauliflower or summer squash can be a substitute for broccoli, too.

Defrosted Small Chicken breast  ( 1 per person)

1 tbsp chopped sage, minced garlic

1 tsp black pepper

1 cup marinara

2 cups broccoli (frozen or raw)

1 slice rice or soy cheese or low-fat swiss cheese.

  • Nuke or steam broccoli.
  • Meanwhile, rub chicken breast with sage, garlic and pepper. Then, in hot saute pan over medium heat, cook chicken, covered, turning once, until the internal temp is 165 and it’s nicely browned. Pour marinara sauce into pan and heat until bubbly, about another minute.
  • Plate chicken breast and pour off sauce over it. Plate hot broccoli on the side and throw slice of cheese on broccoli.
  • If it needs a little help melting, nuke for 30 seconds.

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