A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Comfort foods can be good for you, too

Healthy Comfort Foods 04-07 feature

You can make comfort food recipes healthier by what you add – not what you take away.

Sometimes you just need a hug.

And sometimes you want comfort in what you eat. We all crave comfort foods from time to time, but indulging isn’t healthy because comfort foods often are high in calories and carbohydrates.

Comfort foods don’t have to be off limits

You can make comfort food recipes healthier by what you add – not what you take away.

This meatloaf recipe is chock full of flavor and veggies, and you could add other vegetables, too. The only thing it lacks is extra fat and calories.

Serve this meatloaf recipe with a side of garlic mashed potatoes made with sour cream and fresh herbs and you’ve got a healthy hug on a plate. If you’re looking to cut carbs further, skip the mashed potatoes and substitute another vegetable, or try steaming cauliflower, blend it and prepare in place of the potatoes.

Basic Meatloaf

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Servings: 10


  • 1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 large stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 5 tablespoons ketchup, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs (See Tip)
  • 2 pounds lean (90-percent or leaner) ground beef


Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray (or see loaf pan variation).

Pulse onion, bell pepper and celery in a food processor until finely chopped, or finely chop them with a knife.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons ketchup, Worcestershire, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the vegetables; stir to combine. Stir in egg and breadcrumbs. Add ground beef and with clean hands gently knead the vegetable mixture into the meat; do not overmix. Pat the meat mixture into a loaf shape (about 12 by 5 inches) on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup on top.

Bake the meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165F, about 45 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs.

Loaf pan variation: If you want a more uniform-shaped loaf you can bake your meatloaf in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan instead of on a baking sheet. Coat the pan with cooking spray, pat the meatloaf mixture into the pan and cover with the topping. Bake for about 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes in the pan before slicing.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains about 209 calories; 12 g fat; 7 g carbohydrates; 20 g protein; 200 mg sodium; 4 g sugar.

Source: eatingwell.com

Healthy Mashed Potatoes

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds potatoes, quartered (Try Yukon Golds, which have a naturally buttery taste that’s just right in mashed potatoes.)
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano, rosemary or thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


To roast garlic, wrap unpeeled cloves in foil. Bake in a 400F oven 25 to 35 minutes or until cloves feel soft when pressed. When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from peels into a small bowl.

Meanwhile, put potatoes in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes; return to saucepan.

Mash potatoes and softened garlic with a potato masher or an electric mixer on low speed. Add sour cream, milk, oregano, rosemary or thyme, salt and black pepper. Beat until light and fluffy.

Note: Reduce or skip the salt to lower the sodium in this dish.

Nutrition information

Each 2/3-cup serving contains about: 156 calories; 4g protein; 34g carbohydrates; 1g fat (1g saturated); 2g fiber.

Source: fitnessmagazine.com

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