Better-For-You Southern Comfort Recipes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Down home Southern cooking has produced some of our finest classic American dishes. At the same time, many of these original recipes include unwanted fats, calories and sodium. With some simple changes, we can enjoy this quintessential comfort cuisine and still stay on-track with our health goals. 


Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese

All the flavor you crave, in macaroni and cheese form to keep your fingers clean!

CALORIES: 172.8  |  FAT: 4.2g  |  PROTEIN: 15.5g  |  CARBS: 18.2g  |  FIBER: 3.7g

Slimmed Down Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

This dish is one of the best meals Chef Meg has ever eaten.
CALORIES: 279.0  |  FAT: 7.7g  |  PROTEIN: 26g  |  CARBS: 27.2g  |  FIBER: 3.7g

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

This meatloaf has the best of both worlds: a great crust and a moist interior! The trick is lining your slow cooker and creating a water bath. Trust me, it's worth the effort!

CALORIES: 234.2  |  FAT: 6.4g  |  PROTEIN: 27.1g  |  CARBS: 17.3g  |  FIBER: 1.3g

Spicy Nutty Chicken Nuggets
with Swapped-Out 'Sausage' Gravy

Instead of reaching for fried chicken or frozen chicken nuggets, turn to these spicy, crunchy ones instead.

CALORIES: 189.3  |  FAT: 6.7g  |  PROTEIN: 21.7g  |  CARBS: 11.2g  |  FIBER: 1.5g

*does not include gravy. 


Shrimp Creole

One bite and you're transported to Louisiana!
CALORIES: 302.1  |  FAT: 4.9g  |  PROTEIN: 22.8g  |  CARBS: 45.1g  |  FIBER: 6.3g

Skinny Hot Brown

My slimmed-down version takes away most of the salt and fat but leaves you with that wonderful familiar taste of the South.
CALORIES: 304.9  |  FAT: 10.3g  |  PROTEIN: 29g  |  CARBS: 24.9g  |  FIBER: 2.9

Slow Cooker Pork with Greens and Beans

My kids never complain about eating both beans and greens in one meal when they're served alongside rich, slow-cooked pork. I used pork shoulder, but you could use a leaner cut to save on fat and calories.

CALORIES: 283.6  |  FAT: 15.6g  |  PROTEIN: 25.8g  |  CARBS: 10.7g  |  FIBER: 3.4g

Spicy Southern Barbecued Chicken

Removing the chicken fat and skin and adding no salt to the tasty sauce makes this chicken favorite heart-healthy.

CALORIES: 177.2  |  FAT: 4.6g  |  PROTEIN: 11.2g  |  CARBS: 23.2g  |  FIBER: 0.8g

Black-Eyed Peas

Flavor your family will love!

CALORIES: 231.3  |  FAT: 3.6g  |  PROTEIN: 13.5g  |  CARBS: 39.4g  |  FIBER: 8.2g

Side Dishes

Three-Cheese Macaroni from 'The SparkPeople Cookbook'

Cheesy, rich, delicious--just what you expect in macaroni and cheese. What you won't expect? 2/3 the fat and half the calories of the original!

CALORIES: 259.6  |  FAT: 7.9g  |  PROTEIN: 12.6g  |  CARBS: 39.5g  |  FIBER: 4.1g

Creamy Corn Pudding 

Corn pudding is a Southern favorite, but boy is it heavy. I lightened it up and pumped it up with vegetables. This dish has 4g fiber per serving!
CALORIES: 157.4  |  FAT: 3.5g  |  PROTEIN: 6.7g  |  CARBS: 27.9g  |  FIBER: 4.1g
Corn, Okra, and Tomato Stew

An easy stew in just 3 steps!

CALORIES: 89.1  |  FAT: 0.6g  |  PROTEIN: 3.5g  |  CARBS: 21.1g  |  FIBER: 3.8g
Southern Cole Slaw

A light and delicious side dish served with fish or burgers, the "southern" way.

CALORIES: 78.5  |  FAT: 5.1g  |  PROTEIN: 0.5g  |  CARBS: 8.3g  |  FIBER: 0.8g
Don't Forget Dessert!
Instead of sweet tea try Orange Lavender Tea.

What is your favorite Southern comfort food recipe? How have you made it healthy?

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PATRICIAAK 10/31/2020
:) Report
RAZZOOZLE 10/31/2020
thank you Report
There are only one or two things here I would even eat, meat loaf is from German decent and eaten all over United States not just the south. Guess it may be made differently since my meatloaf doesn’t look like that. Report
LOSER05 8/9/2020
thanks Report
FISHGUT3 5/30/2020
thanks Report
ROBBIEY 5/21/2020
thanks Report
Fabulous recipes here!! Thank you for posting this! Report
Thanks for sharing Report
good ideas Report
Some of these look very tasty and I have added them to my recipe collection to try. Report
Great adaptations! Report
Great recipes! Thanks. Report
Darn phone! That was supposed to say “I’d love to see a low carb version of Southern Banana Pudding please. Report
I’d lol be to see a low carb version of Southern Banana Pudding! Please. Report
thanks Report
Gotta love that comfort food! Report
Better-for-you comfort food sounds good to me. Report
Helpful article. Report
Good recipes. Report
Most of these recipes look really good Report
My goodness...I would eat any one of those foods minus okra. Report
Unless they have changed the vernacular it is cheese grits not cheesy grits. I bake my meatloaf in the oven on a broiler pan so the fat goes into the pan below the broiler grid. I use Matzo meal as a binder. The chicken in the first picture is most likely oven baked breaded chicken which is a faux version of fried chicken. To bread the chicken coat it with flour, dredge it in buttermilk and then roll it in seasoned Matzo meal. Matzo meal has a consistency similar to pako bread crumbs but is cheaper. Report
Could not find a recipe for the chicken, is there one
To tell you the truth, I would like to see a recipe for that luscious looking chicken in that first photo! It's too bad that we can't find a healthy way to eat that yummy looking chicken. Any suggestions wouldn't taste the same either, I don't think! It's called moderation and that's not so fun! Report
Great for the upcoming colder months! Report
Wow. I never realized how un-southern I am until I saw these recipes! I haven't even heard of some of them. I am from the Midwest and would have been much more familiar with hotdishes and bars :) Report
I am not a cook by far but some of these recipes look so good! Report
I hink I'll try the meatloaf with turkey mince instead of beef and probably the spicy southern barbecued chicken. The slaw sounds good too. Report
I am going to try the meatloaf recipe - also may check out mine to see the calories in it. I love meatloaf Report
Thanks for sharing!!!
Some of them looked so good, but the links didn't work :( Report
They look good, but I hate to cook after raising five children. Report
All of these recipes look very inviting. I must try them out. I am a Sweet Potato Pie Fan and the way I slim it down is to decrease the butter in it and also I may swap my full fat Pet milk for the lower fat kind. I like the idea of making it as tarts. Thanks for all these recipes!!! :))) Report
As a life-long resident of the south, I know how the favorites can be major calorie-bombs. I LOVE these makeovers.. I can't wait to try them! Report
I love these recipes! Love some good 'ol southern cooking! I like having a grocery list to go with the meals. I use for this. Report
The okra recipe brings back memories from when I was a child. Where I'm from it's call Okra Gumbo. We always had it with skillet cornbread. Will be making a nice batch. It freezes well. Report
Yummy recipes! Can't wait to try them :) ! Report