As the charm of Christmas and the sparkle of New Year's Eve begin to fade, the reality of the long winter ahead sets in. What better way to get through the chill than by curling up on the couch with a big steaming plate of your favourite comfort food? However, many people's New Year's resolutions are to eat healthily, and so they resign themselves to a dairy-free, gluten-free, taste-free winter. However, this doesn't have to be the case, and with just a few tweaks, you can recreate healthy versions of your favourite foods and still feel good about eating them. If you think taste and health are incompatible, think again!

Asian Takeout

I really think that "Netflix and Chill" must be "Netflix, Asian, and Chill" in order to be truly perfect. Yet takeout Chinese and Thai are both notoriously unhealthy, and thus most avoid the cuisines when watching what they eat. However, you can still break out the chopsticks without breaking your diet. Try this absolutely unreal sweet and sour chicken (seriously, it's my favourite dish ever) sweetened with honey and cooked in coconut oil. As a side, pair it with cauliflower fried rice. If you're more in the mood for Southeast Asian, make healthy pad thai with either spaghetti squash, like this recipe, or using these noodles made entirely from black beans to pack in some protein!

Emily Fluet

Grilled Cheese

Bread and cheese is a match made in heaven, yet the combo isn't the most nutritious. After my last exam and the subsequent pub crawl, I came home in a very jubilatory mood, and made a healthier version of a grilled cheese with a cauliflower crust for lunch.

Emily Fluet

This gooey cheesy concoction could not have been a better celebration food-and without the bread, you don't have to feel bad about adding a pound of cheddar!


Pasta, pizza, wine, cannolis...for such a religious country, its cuisine is pure sin. Yet you can easily indulge without the gluttony. 

Zucchini noodles and cauliflower crust pizza are all the rage, but the swaps for healthy versions don't have to stop there. Try making your own (grain-free) gnocchi with sweet potato, or a version of lasagne with spaghetti squash. Bolognese can be made more nutritious by simply subbing bison/buffalo meat for the beef.

sauce, meat, beef, soup
Emily Fluet

And although chicken alfredo isn't technically authentic, you'll find it on many an Italian menu in the States. While it may seem impossible to recreate its creamy deliciousness without gluten or dairy, health aficionados have found a way with the (quite cleverly named) "caulifredo sauce". All you need is a head of cauliflower, some almond milk, and your favourite noodle replacement-simply steam the cauliflower until very soft and puree until smooth, adding almond milk as you go to ensure correct consistency. Serve over your pasta of choice with sautéed chicken and broccoli! My mom likes to flavor it with sage, whereas I prefer a kick and add some hot sauce. 

Mom's Home Cooking

Speaking of moms, they seem to have a knack for creating the most delicious foods that at the same time scream unhealthy, yet it's easy to make nutritious versions of your old fashioned favourites! One growing up was chicken pot pie, made dairy-free and gluten-free in this recipe. Another classic was meatloaf with potatoes. Try a grain free version with turkey and this BBQ sauce. I served it to my friends with a side of "potato" salad made from steamed rutabaga, and they didn't even miss the tots! 

To make, simply steam a rutabaga, whisk together a dressing of equal parts sour cream and mustard, add a dash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix. I add in onions and celery and occasionally hard boiled eggs. Or if you prefer mashed, try subbing the potatoes with a mixture of cauliflower and rutabaga.

meat, parsley, vegetable
Emily Fluet

I'm a firm believer that everything in moderation is good, and hence it's okay to indulge with a dessert or pizza occasionally. Yet I've also found that many of the above healthy versions are just as good, if not better, than the traditional dish. With just a bit of creativity, it's easy to eat delicious food that not only tastes good but also leaves you feeling better having eaten it. And surely that's the true meaning of comfort food.