Comfort Food Swaps: How to Enjoy the Foods you Love…with a Little Less Guilt | Carson Tahoe Health

Comfort Food Swaps: How to Enjoy the Foods you Love…with a Little Less Guilt

Ahhh comfort food… The cold weather, the seasonal change, and all those pumpkin promotions make it nearly impossible to ignore. One thing we don’t all love as much – the added calories that come with some of our comfort foods.  The nutrition experts from Carson Tahoe Health Nutritional Services helped us compile a couple of swaps you can make to lessen the caloric intake, but still get that comfort food pleasure this fall!

Ice Cream Banana Split Sundae

The traditional sundae is full of calories and sugars…not the best combo. Cut down on calories with this tasty sundae.

You’ll need:

2 ripe bananas, unpeeled

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

4 scoops good-quality vanilla ice cream, such as Breyer’s Natural Vanilla

4 Tbsp. dark chocolate syrup or fudge sauce (such as Ghirardelli or Santa Cruz Organic), warmed in a bowl

1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Sprinkle a few blueberries or cranberries for an added tang!

(Makes 4 servings)


How to make it

1. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet on medium high. Halve the bananas lengthwise, making sure to leave each half in the peel. Coat the exposed banana flesh with the brown sugar, using your fingers to press the sugar in. When the skillet or grill pan is hot, place the bananas in the pan, cut side down. Cook them until the surface caramelizes to a deep brown, about 3 minutes.

2. Let the bananas cool briefly, carefully remove the peels, and place each piece in the bottom of a rocks glass or a small bowl (you can break the pieces in half if that works better). Top each portion of banana with a scoop of ice cream along with equally divided portions of warmed chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts.

Estimated average restaurant ice cream sundae:

Calories: 840

Fat: 55 g

Sugars: 95 g


New & Improved Ice Cream Sundae?

Calories: 314

Fat: 13 g

Sugars: 37 g


Mac & Cheese

When you think of comfort food, this could be your ultimate “go-to.” While many of us LOVE it, we may have realized our metabolisms don’t process it like our 7-year-old selves did.

You’ll need:

2 cups whole wheat or brown rice elbow macaroni (or equivalent shape).

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. flour

2 cups 2% milk

1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup Swiss cheese

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/2cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Pepper to taste


How to make it

1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the Swiss, Cheddar, and mozzarella, and stir until melted. Cut the heat, add the yogurt and cooked pasta, and toss.

3. Heat the broiler. Pour the mac & cheese mixture into an 8″ square baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and parmesan, and season with black pepper. Broil until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes. (Makes 4 servings)


Estimated average restaurant mac & cheese

Calories: 1,380

Calories: Fat: 96 g

Sodium: 3150 mg

Healthier Mac & Cheese

Calories: 595

Fat: 28 g

Sodium: 462 mg


Clam Chowder

True clam chowder isn’t about the thick broth you can scrape off your ribs… it’s about the TASTE! Plus, this recipe even includes bacon!

You’ll need:

4 strips lean bacon, chopped

1 small onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 Tbsp. flour

1 can (10 oz.) clams

2 cups bottled clam juice

1cup whole milk

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 ½  cups)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

How to make it

  1. In a large pot or saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it’s browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve.
  2. Add the onion and celery to the same pan and cook them until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the liquid from the canned clams, the bottled clam juice, and the milk.
  5. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the potatoes and thyme. Cook at a steady simmer just until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Season the chowder with salt and black pepper.
  7. Just before serving, add the canned clams and simmer just long enough to heat them through.
  8. Garnish with the crispy bacon. (Makes 4 servings)

Estimated average restaurant clam chowder

Calories: 519

Fat: 39g

Sodium: 1,106 mg


Clam Chowder

Calories: 254

Fat: 7g

Sodium: 575 mg



Chicken Pot Pie

The classic potpie is meaty, creamy, saucy and downright delicious. It’s also dangerously full of calories. A few simple tricks can make potpie nutritionally respectable, without sacrificing taste. First, roll out the pastry as thin as possible, you’ll still have the buttery golden crust, just not an inch of it. For the filling, keep the focus on the meat and vegetables, not sauce. And, make the potpie in a single baking dish, which makes it easy to carve out reasonable portions – simply divide into quarters and serve.


You’ll need:

2 Tbsps. unsalted butter

2 carrots, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups quartered mushrooms

2 cups frozen pearl onions

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed

1 cup 2% milk

½ cup half-and-half

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup rotisserie white-meat chicken chunks

Salt and pepper

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

2 egg whites, lightly beaten


How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Cook the carrots and garlic until soft, 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and onions; cook 5 minutes. Stir in the flour
  3. Gradually whisk in the broth, milk, and half-and-half, and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the chicken and peas and season with salt and pepper. Pour the filling into a 13″×9″ baking dish.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry so it’s slightly larger than the dish.
  6. Place the pastry over the dish, pinching it against the sides, and brush with the egg whites.
  7. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. (Makes 4 servings)


Estimated average restaurant chicken pot pie

Calories: 1,100

Fat: 78g

Sodium: 2,100 mg

Chicken Potpie

Calories: 706?Fat:


Sodium: 596 mg