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Happy Heart's Recipes

Chef Happy Heart

Healthy Versions of the Comfort Foods We All Love

There's a reason these types of foods are often the go-to choice for comfort. Foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar are packed with texture and flavor - which inspire the cravings that keep us going back for more. These foods also tend to be high in saturated fats, which are linked to high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease; not to mention high in calories. While occasional indulgence in these comfort-food staples is unlikely to do major damage, frequent consumption and large portion size can contribute to weight gain and/or metabolic syndrome - characterized by abdominal fat, high blood pressure and triglyceride levels and insulin resistance - that can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The good news is, if you're longing for comfort foods, you don't have to deprive yourself. Limiting quantities and making healthy substitutions to ingredients in your favorite comfort foods can satisfy cravings without compromising your health. We've doctored the recipes on some of the usual suspects to give them a healthy spin that will please your body as much as it pleases your belly.

Light and Cheesy Mac and Cheese

Serves 8


3 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 cup low fat, low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups non-fat milk
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
Black pepper to taste
1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 375ºF. Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Once cooked, add yogurt and pepper to saucepan and mash ingredients together. In a separate pot, prepare pasta al dente, about 8 minutes, omitting salt. Drain well. Add squash mixture to cooked pasta, then mix in cheddar and ricotta cheeses until combined. Coat 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and spread mixture evenly into pan. Top with grated parmesan cheese and bake for about 25 minutes.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 310, Total Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 250mg, Total Carbohydrates: 50g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 17g

Turkey Meatloaf

Serves 6


1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 egg
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup low sodium ketchup
1/8 tsp chili powder
Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350ºF; spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Saute onion and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and add to loaf pan. Cook for about 45 minutes, remove from oven and let sit before slicing. Additional spices can be added if desired (i.e. cumin, onion powder, rosemary, basil).

Nutrition Facts: Total Calories per serving: 172, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 120mg, Total Carbohydrates: 12g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 14g

Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

Serves 8


6 cups cauliflower florets
2 large white potatoes (with skin)
4 cloves garlic
1 cup non-fat milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, for garnish


Cut potatoes into cubes and place with cauliflower florets and garlic in a saucepan to steam until tender. Place in food processor with milk, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper. Blend until smooth and garnish with fresh parsley.

Nutrition Facts: Total Calories per serving: 140, Total Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 0.7g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 45mg, Total Carbohydrates: 21g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 4.5g

Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted February 2012

Contact Information

CardioVascular Institute at
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215