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5 Cheap, Healthy Comfort Foods

Soothing, nourishing foods to ease you through the cold season.

Comfort foods for winter
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Comfort foods are a must at my house in the wintertime. Stews that braise and bubble all day, casseroles and baked pastas that have that satisfying crunch of browned cheese on top, and desserts. So many desserts.

This year, I’m counting on digging into comfort as usual, but I’m thinking about ways to lighten up my menu—without sacrificing any deliciousness or satisfaction. 

1)  Mashed Potatoes (Plus)
A creamy, steamy dollop of mashed potatoes is a supremely comforting dish, rich with butter, sour cream or both. Potatoes are inexpensive, which makes them even more of a winner. The good news is, so are a number of other vegetables that mash up beautifully for your winter table. Sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower—all of the above can be steamed or roasted and mashed with a drizzle of melted butter, a drizzle of olive oil, or even a bit of maple syrup for a satisfyingly comforting dish.

2)  Grilled Cheese
A little goes a long way when it comes to a great grilled cheese sandwich. Some whole-grain sandwich bread works beautifully with a couple of slices of sharp cheddar, smooth provolone, fragrant blue or creamy goat cheese. Honey mustard spread, thinly sliced apples or pears and a few leaves of dark greens like spinach or kale finish off a sandwich that is perfect to tuck into on a cold afternoon.

3)  Oatmeal
Rolled oats (or steel-cut if you have more time to spare) are a nutritious, affordable kitchen staple that is ready for you to transform into a bowl of comfort anytime. Stir in some fruit, creamy milks and natural sweeteners to elevate your oatmeal to new, comforting heights.

4)  Baked Eggs
Quiches and frittatas are wonderful comfort foods. But for a quick, easy dish, spray a muffin tin with olive oil or other cooking spray, crack an egg into each, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, depending on how “done” you like your egg yolk. Pop the cooked eggs out of the tins and use in breakfast sandwiches, on top of a toasted slice of fresh bread or over a simple bowl of hot rice and vegetables.

5)  Warm Chocolate Pudding
I mean…..what a delicious, soothing thing to dip a spoon into a warm bowl of chocolate pudding. I like this recipe from Eating Well magazine for taking a lighter touch than the full-fledged heavy cream version I generally make. Because it doesn’t have to be the most decadent bowl in the world to bring a helping of comfort into your chilly winter evenings.

What are your favorite cheap, healthy comfort foods?

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