6 Comfort Foods Made Healthier

It’s time to enjoy, guilt-free.

New Year, new you, right? Whether you’re cutting back, eating more whole grains, or sticking to an even stricter regiment, you’ll still have to reward yourself every now and then. But indulging doesn’t have to mean going wild and regretting later. We set out to find a smart way to do it. First, we polled Real Simple Facebook fans to find the foods you crave the most. Not packaged foods, but the late night stuff you’d cook or order in. Our test kitchen took six of your favorites and swapped in a few healthy ingredients. So you can really enjoy them without ruining your diet.


No-Guilt Neapolitan Pizza

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

This thin-crust pizza is crackly and tender, thanks to an easy DIY dough made from whole-wheat flour and flax seeds (which pack in a ton of omega-3s). Plus, homemade means none of the preservatives found in many store-bought doughs and crusts. In addition to the classic Neapolitan ingredients—crushed san Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil—a couple of cups of baby arugula and flat-leaf parsley top everything off with a healthy dose of green.

Get the recipe: No-Guilt Neapolitan Pizza


Better Bacon Cheeseburger

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

It’ll taste pretty indistinguishable from every juicy, high-quality burger you’ve ever had. There’s cheddar cheese, grilled onion, sliced pickles, spinach, and a spicy special sauce. But here’s the trick: the patties are made from ground sirloin instead of the traditional ground chuck, which cuts the fat in half.

Get the recipe: Better Bacon Cheeseburger


Not-So-Average Nachos

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

It takes a lot of melted cheese to give a pile of chips full coverage. That’s why this plate is drizzled with our new and improved homemade queso, just as gooey and satisfying with a fraction of the cheese. Piles of pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, and cilantro get served on top. These are basically salad nachos. 

Get the recipe: Not-So-Average Nachos


“Zoodles” & Turkey Meatballs

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Think of this dinner as a healthy helping of spaghetti and meatballs, except we cut the pasta with tons of fresh paper-thin zucchini. And let’s not forget the juicy meatballs, made from hot Italian turkey sausage for maximum flavor with minimum ingredients. They get baked on a rack, so excess fat drains off during cooking. Everything gets topped off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Get the recipe: “Zoodles” & Turkey Meatballs


Dark Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

They’re still cookies, so you might not want to eat an entire batch, but these are made with white whole-wheat flour—a whole grain base that has the same texture and flavor of all-purpose with four times the fiber. Each cookie is studded with chopped dark chocolate and toasted walnuts. Thanks to extra-virgin coconut oil, they’re chewy on the inside and crispy around the edges (the best of both worlds!).

Get the recipe: Dark Chocolate-Walnut Cookies


Decadent (Not Deadly) Chocolate Ice Cream

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Two different types of chocolate give this frozen treat its decadence. Gelatin and sweetened condensed milk help thicken the base, which means there’s no need for heavy cream, just whole milk. We recommend skipping the packaged toppings. Instead, top it off with pomegranate seeds, popcorn, goji berries, cocoa nibs, or toasted coconut.

Get the recipe: Decadent (Not Deadly) Chocolate Ice Cream