3 Heart-Healthy Winter Recipes: Comfort Food Revisited

A couple enjoying dinner
January 29th, 2016

When the thermometer plunges and snow begins to fall, tastes change, and we start to crave comfort foods to keep us warm and snug. Favorite winter dishes such as potpies and fried chicken are loaded with fat and cholesterol, but it’s possible to lighten traditional winter recipes without removing the “comfort” from them. These three heart-healthy recipes leave you satisfied while feeding your ticker the nutrition it needs to keep on ticking.

They’re high in lean protein and low in saturated fat. These “healthified” versions of old favorites contain substitutions recommended by the American Heart Association. The trans-fats in the original versions are gone, since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a complete ban on them. While these dishes are skinny on the bad stuff, you’ll find them bursting with flavor, so go ahead and indulge your hearty winter appetite.

Note: Use a salt substitute if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet.

Barbecue Chicken Bake


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup baking mix (look for the Heart Smart seal)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine baking mix, water, and egg white. Spread batter evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a small bowl, toss chicken with barbecue sauce to coat chicken. Spoon coated chicken over batter, and leave a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden.

Yield: 2 servings

Not-So-Sloppy Joe Potpie


  • 1/2 cup baking mix (look for the Heart Smart seal)
  • 3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together baking mix, 1/2 cup cheese, water, and egg.
  3. In an ovenproof 8-inch skillet, cook beef over medium heat until browned, then drain. Stir in tomato sauce, ketchup, and salt and stir occasionally for a few minutes until heated.
  4. Spread baking-mix batter evenly over top of beef mixture.
  5. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Healthified Oven-Fried Chicken


  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup herbed (whole-grain, if possible) breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and place a cooling rack on top. Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray.
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese, zest, paprika, and salt.
  3. In another shallow bowl, mix lemon juice, oil, and water.
  4. Dip each chicken breast in liquid mixture, then in breadcrumb mixture, and place in the baking pan.
  5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked (no pink juices).

Yield: 4 servings