When the weather turns nasty, it’s tempting to wrap yourself in a blanket of cheesy, meaty, fat-centric comfort foods. No judgment if you do, but there are also lighter options that can feel just as cozy. Whether you’re swapping out cream for yogurt, meat for beans, or caramelized onions for dark greens, there’s nearly always a way to incorporate more vegetables or lessen your fat intake. Here are a few of our best recipes for cooking healthy, from a stunning vegetarian carrot-ginger soup to a soul-soothing seafood stew.
Carrot-ginger soup, done right, is just shy of incredible. This velvety number benefits from slow-cooking onions and carrots to caramelize them. It features a full pound of carrots, plus a potato for body. A splash of cream and a dollop of crème fraîche keep it feeling a far cry from tasting like “health food.” This isn’t the sort of soup you can easily purchase at the supermarket, but you can make it in an hour at home, and it is gorgeous.
What’s more comforting than pizza? Yes, you could order a greasy pepperoni and double-cheese pie for delivery, but you could also snap up a few bags of pre-made whole wheat pizza dough. They’re the key to having a more healthful pie option any night of the week. This beauty also takes advantage of the time-saving qualities of pre-made turkey sausages. Break them out of their casings to brown, amp them up with garlicky, spicy broccoli rabe, add part-skim mozzarella, and boom. It’s pizza night, in about the same time it’d take the delivery gal to arrive.
Oatmeal is wonderful and all, but there are only so many variations you can do before it becomes a bit tiresome. Break up the routine with this pretty-as-a-picture coconut-blueberry-quinoa porridge flecked with pistachios and chia seeds. You wouldn’t think quinoa could be as tasty as oats, but it sure can be, especially with a bevy of toppings. This dish also features almond butter, bananas, coconut flakes, and honey. It sure doesn’t taste virtuous.
Sometimes the key to eating less meat is simply to think about which alternative ingredients have hearty mouthfeels. Beans are right up there on that list, and tend to be protein-packed, to boot. These tacos with beans and greens feature classic Mexican cuisine flavors: onion, cilantro, cotija, crema, and lime juice. Pinto beans and wilted kale fit right into that kaleidoscope of familiar, delicious notes. This dish cooks up in about half an hour on a crazed weeknight.
We love a recipe that just keeps the seasonal vegetables on coming, and this kale salad is a fantastic example of just that. Spiralized butternut squash and cauliflower are roasted until they’re sweet and marvelously tender. They join raw Brussels sprouts, pomegranate seeds and a whole head of kale in a bowl alongside creamy feta and pine nuts. When drizzled with a Dijon-honey-olive oil dressing, it all comes together beautifully.
There’s a minimal amount of oil in this soup featuring Israeli couscous and tender lamb meatballs, and couscous is a wonderful break from pasta or other heavy-feeling starches. This soup eschews cream and a ton of fat in favor of simple chicken broth and a smorgasbord of spices. There’s cumin, curry powder, oregano, thyme, mustard, chili, cinnamon, garlic, tomato paste, and onions. They all simmer together as the lamb cooks, infusing the soup with a symphony of delicate, satisfying notes.
Many cultures have their own knockout renditions of shellfish stew. There’s Provençal bouillabaisse, New England chowder, and this Italian shellfish stew, among many other delightful iterations. Most are fabulous, and this one is no exception. Onion, garlic, red pepper flakes soften up juicy plum tomatoes in olive oil. A bit of red wine and tomato sauce join the mix, and when it’s flavorful, squid, scallops, clams and fish join the party. Everything simmers together, with the clams adding their inimitable brine to the sauce. Serve with plenty of bread, and try not to squabble over the broth; it’s that good.