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Secretly Healthy: Fall Comfort Foods You Don’t Have to Hide From

November 25, 2013

Good health depends on a healthy diet. But eating healthy doesn’t mean having to forego incredible taste. We asked some of our friends to share their favorite healthy fall treats. The following recipes pack a flavorful punch while substituting healthy alternatives in foods rich in comfort.


Pumpkin Pie Oat Pancakes
Clean Eating Creamy Chicken White Bean Chili
Grilled Cheese with a (Healthy) Twist
Rustic Red Bean Stew
One Pan Gnocchi
Butternut Squash & Quinoa Stew

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Pumpkin Pie Oat Pancakes

Pumpkin Pie Oat Pancakes

Personal trainer and wellness coach Melissa Cheney offers this tasty way to start your day.

“I love this recipe because it tastes like the ‘real deal’! A lot of times when you are substituting healthier ingredients for not-so-healthy ones, you lose flavor and/or texture, but these pancakes don’t skip a beat due to the oat flour. Oat flour resembles white refined flour in texture, so it bakes the same. You feel like you are eating regular pancakes, except you are consuming ones that are gluten-free and loaded with fiber and protein!”

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 Tbsp xylitol
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Heat your griddle to medium heat and grease with oil, nonstick spray or butter.
  4. Scoop out pancake batter, pour onto griddle and cook for a couple of minutes on each side.
  5. Serve warm with maple butter or syrup. Enjoy!

Melissa Cheney is a Certified Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer and CrossFit Level One Trainer. She has a passion for health, fitness and good food made simply. She loves to inspire others, especially new moms to be their best self through her blog, fitnwellmommy.com.

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Clean Eating Creamy Chicken White Bean Chili

white bean chili

Family lifestyle blogger Colleen Sullivan knows one of the best ways to warm up on the inside is with this hearty chili.

“When the weather begins too cool I can’t help but look forward to cooking up some of our favorite comfort foods. Our favorites are warm cream stews, pastas and chili’s. But while we loves the taste of these foods, we don’t love what they do to our bodies. That’s why each week I try my best to make healthful adaptations of some of our comfort food favorites.

This chili is creamy, but heavy cream and butter are not what gives it that consistency. Instead roasted, pureed cauliflower lends its flavor, creaminess, thickness and a healthy dose of vitamin c to this deliciously comforting meal.”

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1lb frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced no salt added tomatoes, fire roasted or regular, OR 1 lbs. fresh, chopped
  • 2 cans cannellini
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 7-ounce cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 8 ounce reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup low-fat half-and-half

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 400. Break apart the cauliflower and toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast on a baking sheet until browned- about 25 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about six minutes, or until the the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another three minutes.
  3. Add the onion / garlic combination to the slow cooker along with the frozen chicken breasts, beans, spices, 1 cup chicken broth, tomatoes and green chilies.
  4. Meanwhile, remove the cauliflower from the oven and put in a large bowl. Add a 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and puree with an immersion blender (or put in a blender). Add to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4-5).
  5. When chicken is cooked through remove it from the slow cooker and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the slow cooker stir in the sour cream and half & half. Serve with cheddar cheese and additional sour cream to top.

Colleen Sullivan is a wife, mother and stay-at-home mom. She loves to stay active, cook for her loved ones and write her family lifestyle blog, Meet the Sullivans.

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Grilled Cheese with a (Healthy) Twist

grilled cheese

Mommy blogger extraordinaire Jindy Garfias knows there are no limits when it comes to this time-tested favorite! The possibilities are endless.

“Grilled cheese is my all-time favorite comfort food! I will often pair it with a simple mixed green salad or a warm bowl of low-sodium tomato soup, for a satisfying and healthy meal.”

‘I’ve learned 4 important steps to converting a classic grilled cheese into a healthy grilled cheese.

  1. ‘No butter. Coating the bread (and the pan) in butter is not necessary. You can lightly brush the pan with extra virgin olive oil if you don’t like the outside of your bread dry.

  2. ‘Change the bread. No white bread, no sourdough. I switched to Sara Lee Delightful 100% Wheat bread: 0G of fat, 45 cal per slice, low carb and it tastes great!

  3. ‘Carefully choose the cheese. I am a huge fan of Muenster cheese because it tastes fabulous and melts beautifully, however it is very high in fat. After shopping around I was able to find a low fat, pre-sliced version at my local Trader Joe’s.

  4. ‘Add veggies and herbs. I add fresh basil and tomatoes from our garden, and fresh baby spinach from the farmers’ market.”

Ingredients

  • 2 slices Sara Lee Delightful 100% Wheat or 100% Multi-Grain Bread
  • 2 slices low-fat Muenster cheese
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • 3-5 small basil leaves, chopped
  • Thin slices from a small red onion
  • Garlic aioli mustard (or your favorite mustard)
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Optional: other veggies or baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Brush just once side of each slice of bread lightly with your favorite mustard.
  2. Place one slice of cheese on each slice of bread on top of the mustard.
  3. Build the rest of the sandwich on 1 slice of the bread by placing tomatoes, onions, basil.
  4. Top with freshly ground pepper to taste.
  5. Top with the other slice of bread & cheese.
  6. Heat on griddle / pan on med-low heat for about 3 minutes on each side.
  7. Keeping the temperature low ensures the cheese fully melts and the flavors blend together without the bread burning. Optional: For a panini effect, brush the pan with extra virgin olive oil and press the sandwich down while cooking by pressing with a heavy object (another pan for example) on top.
  8. Cut in half and enjoy!

Jindy Garfias is a modern day super woman who manages to juggle work, motherhood, fitness, great food, and much more. She can be found at FlowersCroon.com, where she writes about cooking, music, Disney, sports, family, fitness and taking the time to smell (or paint) the roses.

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Rustic Red Bean Stew

Rustic Red Bean Stew

Nothing is more comforting than a hearty stew, and healthy eating blogger Theresa Schultz knows just the right one for the season.

“This is a Rustic Red Bean Stew. It is full of vegetables and fills you up just like a soup should. Enjoy the journey of healthy cooking because it truly is a lifestyle.”

Ingredients

  • 1 (1/2 cup) russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 (15 ounce) can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup packed fresh baby spinach
  • 3 carrots, chopped – equal to 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 to 1 (1/2 teaspoons) salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients except cornstarch in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered till vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Place cornstarch in a glass cup and add a little water to make a paste. Add cornstarch paste to soup and mix to combine.
  4. Serve hot.

Theresa Schultz believes healthy eating is a lifestyle, and she works to make recipes that look and taste good and are good for you.  Theresa has been creating and publishing her recipes since 2002, when she founded the newsletter, “Love a fare”.  Today it has evolved into her popular blog, a Love a fare. Follow her there to find out more!

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One Pan Gnocchi

One Pan Gnocchi

Looking for a simple recipe with robust flavor? Lifestyle and recipe blogger Sarah Creighton has just the answer with this one-pan wonder.

“Eating tasty, delicious dishes doesn’t mean you have to indulge in all the unhealthy aspects of it.  You can adapt any dish to not only taste great, but be good for your body.  Making small changes can make a huge difference.  For example, replace dairy butter with a plant-based version like Earth Balance, my favorite!  Or try replacing white pasta, rice and bread with whole grain or sprouted varieties.  Over time you’ll notice a world of difference in your health and the way you feel!

‘This easy weeknight meal comes together quickly in one pan which means easy clean-up.  Substitute swiss chard or spinach for the kale if you like.  The nutritional yeast adds a nice cheesy flavor along with those B vitamins.”

Ingredients

  • 1 Tb. + 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (~16 oz.) package gnocchi* (defrost first)
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 C. vegetable broth (or use water)
  • 6 C. kale, de-stemmed & torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • 1 Tb. nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tb. oil over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook for 5-7 minutes or until slightly browned and puffed up. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add 1 tsp. of oil to the pan along with onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and vegetable broth (or water), stirring and cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.
  3. Stir in the kale and cook for 2 minutes. Then add in the beans, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, prepared gnocchi, salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Serve with a fresh green salad.

*Look for vegan gnocchi as many contain milk and eggs. Rising Moon sells delicious frozen vegan gnocchi!

Sarah Creighton was determined to encourage other parents to help their children develop a healthy relationship with vegetables,  so she started Veggie-Kids, a company which includes a recipe & lifestyle blog, cookbooks, children’s books and apparel for kids of all ages. Sarah has become an advocate for raising healthy children and believes that by adding a healthy serving of humor and fun to the kitchen, children will be more willing to try the incredible bounty of what nature has to offer.

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Butternut Squash & Quinoa Stew

Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili

One enjoyable part of fall is the seasonal foods we can delight from. Food and recipe blogger Angela Pemberton offers this fabulous dish featuring winter squash. “This is one of my favorite fall dishes. I love the use of butternut squash since it is in season. Quinoa is an amazing grain full of protein, it is easy and quick to make and this stew really fills you up!!!

I believe in using fresh local organic non-gmo ingredients as much as possible. I stay away from processed foods and make meals for my family that are truly homemade. Using fresh ingredients rather than canned vegetables is a wonderful step to make your meals more healthy – think of this tip as you are preparing meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I use the organic pacific brand)
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium butternut squash (chopped into cubes – appx 3 cups)
  • 2/3 cups quinoa (not cooked – rinsed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh organic baby spinach

Instructions

  1. In a large pot – I used my dutch oven – heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onions, oregano, and garlic. Saute for until the onion is softened about 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the diced tomatoes, butternut squash, and quinoa. Simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is tender and quinoa is cooked.
  3. Add the salt. Stir in the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Serve warm. Enjoy.

Angela Pemberton is a wife, mom, wannabe chef and baker, Pinterest addict, and most importantly, hopes sharing her family meals will inspire others to get in the kitchen and cook for their family! Follow Angela on her blog, Another Bite Please.

By eating healthier and exercising more, the lower your health care costs may become. Healthier individuals require less medical services. With a strengthened immune system, you’ll less likely require physician visits and antibiotics. This can result in less out-of-pocket fees and lower premiums. In addition, many health insurance companies now offer incentives to maintain healthy lifestyles. Talk to your insurance provider to discuss how a healthy lifestyle can benefit your pocketbook, in addition to your overall well being.

Post author Loren Pleet
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