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Simple Tips to “Health-Up” Your Favorite Comfort Foods

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If someone told you that you could lose weight AND feel great by eating more junk food, you wouldn’t believe them, would you? Of course not. You’re smarter than that. So, you won’t be surprised to hear about the March 2012 Public Health Nutrition study that found that people who ate junk food were a whopping 51% more likely to show signs of depression. And those who ate more junk food were even more likely to be depressed.

Now, think about all of those times you used junk food as “comfort.” You’re not alone there, either. Another study, published in a January 2012 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who experience work “burn out” are more likely to engage in emotionally-charged and uncontrolled eating. Comfort food might be making you feel worse instead of better.

For most of us, it happens in the winter, colder days make us crave comfort foods and we end up eating more to stay warm (that’s my excuse). But did you know that my favorite comfort food, Mac n’ Cheese, contains 100 calories per 5 bites? Yikes, I eat five bites while I’m making the meal

Here are my top 3 comfort foods and my tips to “health” them up:

  1. Mac n’ cheese
  2. Chili
  3. Mashed potatoes or baked potatoes with all the fix in’s


This product will help you to rethink mac n’ cheese. The pasta is made with green lentil flour and packs a whopping 24 grams of protein and five grams of fiber. Compared with traditional boxed mac/cheese that has 1 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of protein..

Bonus: this dish is such a protein hit that honestly, you can only eat so much!



better beansCHILI:

Probably my second favorite comfort food on a cold and dark day. But, if done right, this meal doesn’t have to contain an entire day of saturated fat and calories.

My #1 tip; skip the “meat only, no beans” type of chili. Let’s face it, you’re just ordering a bowl of meat-meat that’s covered in cheese and sour cream.

A better bet? Order the BEAN chili and the more beans the better! Beans are full of fiber, protein and minerals and have been shown in numerous studies to be helpful in lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar and reducing heart disease risk.

If I don’t have time to make my own chili I pick up a container of Better Beans Three Sister’s Chili. I’m sold on this brand because they use apple cider vinegar, onions & garlic to flavor their beans instead of a lot of sodium. On average, their beans products have 1/3 less sodium than canned beans.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of homemade mashed potatoes prepared with butter and whole milk contains about 240 calories, 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat.

In contrast, a medium baked potato with no additions has 170 calories, 4.5 grams of protein, 0.25 gram of fat and 4 grams of fiber.

Quite the difference!

So of course you could just sub in a baked potato without all the goodies of butter, cheese and sour cream. But, here’s the deal, if you’re craving mashed potatoes I doubt a naked baked potato will take the edge off or your craving.

But, what if you could “health-up” your mashed potatoes?

Mashed Potatoes with Hope Original Hummus

I used hummus, which keeps this dish rich and creamy with added protein and less fat. Now I can feel good about going back for seconds!


3 lb. Yukon gold potatoes

4 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted (we use earth balance)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tub Hope Original Hummus

½ tsp salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Parsley for garnishing (optional)



  1. Quarter potatoes and put in a large pot. Cover potatoes with cold water and cook on the stovetop until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain potatoes and set aside.
  3. In a separate pan, add olive oil and chopped onion and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, add the butter and garlic and microwave until butter is melted (stovetop optional).
  5. Mash potatoes using a masher or ricer into a large bowl.
  6. Add melted butter and garlic mixture and sautéed onions and stir to combine.
  7. Fold in hummus into mashed potatoes until just combined, be careful not to over mix.
  8. Add salt and pepper and serve with chopped parsley to garnish.

Gluten Free | Dairy Free | Vegan

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