Nutrition Comfort Foods with a Healthy Twist

Comfort Foods with a Healthy Twist

By: Alyssa Geffen, Creator of @TheRunningKitchen

As the weather starts getting colder, all I want to eat are warm, hearty meals. Big bowls of pasta, chilli and mashed potatoes definitely put a smile on my face. Unfortunately, they’re not so great for my winter training.

That’s why I love coming up with healthy versions to my favourite comfort foods that still give me that warming feeling (full of flavour) without the guilt. Some of the easiest tricks I have to keep the calories in check are:

– Load up on veggies in the recipe instead of carbs

– Swap in healthier carbs (brown rice, sweet potatoes)

– Add in lean and healthy protein (chicken breast, turkey)

And here are a few of my favourite comfort food recipes:

Cozy Kimchi Fried Rice
This is comfort in a bowl. For a healthy twist I replace the rice with quinoa to add extra protein.


Cook the quinoa in advance. Heat up a large pan on your stove with coconut oil and sesame oil. Add the quinoa first and then the kimchi and kimchi juice. Mix all together. Leave it on the heat for 5-10 minutes; mixing it halfway through to make sure quinoa doesn’t burn. Add soy sauce (optional). Transfer to a bowl once the quinoa is heated and the kimchi is mixed in. Make a fried egg in the same pan and use to top the rice. Garnish with sesame seeds and shredded seaweed pieces.

*Add extra protein like tofu, chicken or beef if you’re extra hungry.
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
I love burgers, and love this veggie version just as much. Instead of using a bun, eat the burger on a bed of lettuce.


I made the burgers vegan, so instead of egg; I mixed 1 tbs. of chia with water until it turns into a paste. (You can use 1 egg instead of the chia). In a food processor, add cooked brown rice, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, nutritional yeast, smoked salt, pepper, basil, chia paste, chopped onion. When fully mixed, form into a burger and cook in a pan with coconut oil until brown on each side. I like topping my burgers with havarti cheese (non vegan) and enjoy it with a side cucumber and tomato salad.

Mac n’ “Cheese”
Nothing says comfort to me like a big bowl of mac n’ cheese. I’m not vegan and love cheese. And this dairy-free cashew cheese version is just so creamy and delicious, it’s hard to resist.

Soak 1 cup of cashews overnight. Cook brown rice pasta according to the directions on the bag or box. Add almond milk, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, lemon, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and turmeric, to a food processor. Once pasta is cooked and drained, add sauce into saucepan with pasta and simmer over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally until thickens. The thickening process takes 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy.