Recipe Makeovers: Comfort Foods, Part 1

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I subscribe to several email newsletters, including one that delivers recipes to my inbox just after lunch each day. The recipes are always mouth-watering and tempting, but they're not always healthy.

Yesterday's email offered five recipes for affordable comfort food: Variations on meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chili, sloppy joes, meatballs and burgers and fries.

While the recipes made me hungry (I hadn't had lunch yet), I knew I wouldn't be expending that many calories on one meal.

The typical cheeseburger with the works has 630 calories and 41 g of fat (and that's one made at home, not one from a restaurant)! Add on some fries and you're looking at another 340 calories and 17 g fat!

Wowza! How about meatloaf and mashed potatoes? They sound awfully comforting. Together, they can top 800 calories and 40 grams of fat. That doesn't seem very comforting to me. In fact, that calorie count makes me want to run the other way!

I do love comfort food, so I sought out some slimmed-down comfort foods.
My favorite: Oven fries!

They're seriously easy, and pretty light, too. For half a large baking potato, you'll rack up only 162 calories and 2.4 g fat (click the recipe above for more nutrition info). With numbers like those, you won't feel guilty no matter what you dip them in.

3 large baking potatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Peel the potatoes and cut them into long strips. Toss in a bowl with oil, and when strips are coated with oil, spread them on a single layer cookie sheet. Cook for 35 minutes. Turn strips periodically to make sure all sides are browned. If you prefer crispier fries, put them under broiler for a minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired.

Makes six servings.

(Dress up your oven fries with chili powder, chopped rosemary, grill seasoning or your favorite salt-free seasoning blend. I sometimes make oven "fries" with butternut squash, sweet potatoes (peel them) or even zucchini.)

If you're in the mood for something creamy tonight, check out these recipes: Mashed potatoes and meatloaf for under 150 calories each! And if you're trying to stretch your meat a bit farther these days, we'll tell you how.

What comfort food would you like us to make over? Do you have a favorite comfort food that you've made healthier?

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ANHELIC 1/13/2020
Thank you Report
CECELW 4/8/2019
these are some really great ideas Report
MUSICNUT 2/20/2019
Thanks for all the great ideas! :) Report
Love the picture!!!
Would you please do makeovers with accurate pics on spark recipes????
That would be so helpful to those of us who are visually motivated ( and might even sell some cookbooks!) Report
Try adding garlic to the recipe, it's great. Makes you feel like your cheating, when you're not!

Linda Report
I am with comment #35! Mac and cheese and scalloped potatoes, PLEASE!
Something else I have made for comfort food is a variation of black beans and rice. I use brown rice. I mix together the black beans, green beans and a 24 oz. can of italian diced tomatoes. I add extra italian seasoning and garlic. Then after it's heated I pour it over the rice. Oh so yummy. I need to add this to the SparkRecipes! Report
It is cold here today so i am in a mood for some comfort food. I will be making Stroganoff, but will be using lean beef and no fat sour cream . Report
I actually made these with dinner tonight!
So great with a little bit of lemon pepper seasoning!
xx Report
Can you make over macaroni and cheese and scalloped potatoes please? Report
I love oven fries Report
P.S. These "fries" sound good, and I will try them. I don't care much for ground turkey or chicken, but I do love buffallo, which is lower in fat and calories than beef. I use it to make meatloal and meat balls. Report
I really like making over dishes to reduce calories and found I've done it enough that really high-fat foods usually don't taste as good now. (I recall living in France eons ago and loving rich meals--now they are the rare treat.) However, I do have two caveats: I won't use chemical-laden foods to achieve a makeover, and the revision must be delicious. Report
I make a mean turkey meatloaf, with zucchini and carrots! It's light, full of veggies, and fabulous! Check out the recipe on my Sparkpage or on SparkRecipes!

Sweet potato fries are also great comfort food - we have them a lot with the meatloaf! :) Report
I've been craving meatloaf for weeks now. I haven't had any because i'm allergic to beef, however this got me thinking. I'm going to get some good ole' ground turkey and try out one of these recipes. I shared the oven fry recipe with my mom and the first thing she said was thank you. Not cuz i handed her a recipe, but because she is in love with them, and has been looking for a healthier alternative for months. Report
Next meal!! Can't wait!! Report
I second using yams as an alternative to potatoes. I too use spray olive oil and use seasonings like Mrs. Dash or Mesquite BBQ seasoning, garlic and herb seasoning, fresh ground black pepper and a bit of salt. Yummy! I would recommend lowering the oven temperature to 375 or 400 as the higher sugar content of yams means they burn fairly easily at high temperatures. Report
The oven fries a great way to have fries. That is the only way I make fries, I leave the skins on the potatoes. Try oven yams or sweet potatoes too, nice change. Report
Love doing oven fries and always sprinkle with a variety of different spices. Kids actually like cumin. They also like sweet potato fries. Report
I like to soak the peeled potato in cold ice water, spray the baking pan generously with nonstick spray and bake the fries until well done. Add a little salt, and they are great!!!! Report
I love baked fries, it doesn't feel like you're being deprived at all.

So do ya think y'all could make over doughnuts?! JK, I've resigned to just give them up all together....bad doughnuts...bad. =( Report
I like to make these with a variety of potatoes, and other root vegies ! something about the different colors & textures! yumm Report
i love oven fries! my mommy makes them for me all the time! Report
Ya gotta love those comfort foods! Report
I am so fortunate to love cooking and the process of testing recipes, so I've created my own little SparkPeople recipe book where I've remade alot of comfort foods. How does lasagna with carmelized onions, sauteed portabello mushrooms, homemade tomato sauce and creamy pesto cheese sound (and parmesan on top to boot) .....just 277 calories for a nice sized slice!! I should write a cook book and make a million!!! Report
My comfort foods are junky appetizer type food: boneless buffalo wings, onion rings, potato skins, mozzarella sticks...but I get sick from greasy and spicy things, not even mentioning the calorie count. If anyone can come up with some substitutions for those I'd be in Heaven! Report
We love the oven fries too - I use Olive Oil spray on them & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. My hubby loves his sweets so I use Splenda in most of my baking, which cuts down on the sugar for his diabetes. We also love Shepherd's Pie but how do you cut down on the calories for the potatoes on top? I use extra lean hamburg for the meat.

Have a great weekend! Report
We love making fries but dd a whole chicke with the back bone cut out with spices...bake the chicken on a broiler pan with the fries underneith for 45 minutes at 450 message me an I can give you more details!YUMMY Report
I love to make oven fries because my family loves them. I mix some salt and pepper and other spices to sprinkle over the fries before going into the oven. They always turn out good. Yum! Report
I have tried these fries but dust them with parmesean cheese or chiilie powder. I change alot of recipes so I can have them and still eat healthy. Report
It's easy to modify burgers and meat loaf to be healthier -- use lean ground beef in both and watch the condiments on the burger. :) Report
I am always doing what I call the kitchen chemist routene adapting recipes- I find my family likes it better when I use our family recipes and adapt them- sometimes it takes a bit of thinking, but when I serve them they are all gone and I've never had anyone complain... Smiles, Sharon Report
i replace oil with applesuace or mashed bananas in brownies and cakes. not sure what the net savings is, but it's gotta be a lot and no one really notices the difference. Report
I like the sound of those and from a caloric only standpoint they seem like a good idea. Only thing is white potatoes have a much higher glycemic index than sweet potatoes, like one of the highest, and have a large effect of bood sugar and insulin levels (so more chance of storing fat this way)....also would be better to use Pam Spray or something similar as opposed to actual olive oil because when heated the good fat effects of the olive oil are kind of the olive oil for your salad yanno? Report
I love sweet potato fries and will try doing the version with spray tonight, however I leave on the skin, which is loaded with vitamins and minerals and adds fiber. Report
My favorite comfort food is pasta. It was awesome to discover whole wheat pasta. It has a much better texture and it's much healthier! Report
Sounds good. Report
I do the same as BRONTE7723 and use spray olive oil. Less fat and calories and super delicious! Report
Those do sound very good...... Report
My husband does these outside on the grill for us - yummy! Report
I love using little red potatoes and cutting them in half or quarters. Same method of tossing with oil, and I usually chop up some rosemary and toss with it. Yummy! Report
I love oven browned potatoes. I prefer to cut them up into smaller pieces instead of french fry like, especially with sweet potatoes. Report
I do potatoes like this all the time, but I use spray olive oil and put the seasoning on early. Spray oil means I use even less of it so it's even more just potato. I try out different seasonings on my potatoes, Make 'em with kumara, pumpkin, parsnip, swede, beetroot or carrots. They all come out tasty Report
They sound good, will try this sometime over the weekend :-) have a good one :-)
Take care
Linda Report