Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (2024)

Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (1)Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (2)

Photos: From Junk Food to Joy Food

“Why would you give up the stuff you love when you don’t have to?”

It’s a question Joy Bauer poses in the introduction to her new book, From Junk Food to Joy Food, and The Today Show’s nutrition expert has a point. When it comes to our favorite junk foods, maybe the problem isn’t what we crave, but how we make them. (We’ve had a sneaking suspicion…)

Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (3)Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (4)It’s that very idea that serves as the premise of her recipes, in which the good-for-you gurugives healthy makeovers to the foods that seemingly define the word craving: cauliflower is riced to make gluten-free grilled cheese (a technique we firmly endorse!), whole grains are used to recreate classic diner pancakes, and pumpkin puree becomes the secret ingredient in shockingly healthy cinnamon buns.

“There’s no fun in following a program that forbids all the tasty comfort foods you crave,” she adds.Can we get an amen?

Ultimately, Bauer’sgoal is to make healthy eating achievable—not to mention, of course, eminently delicious and supremely Instagrammable—by eliminating the restrictiveness and rigidity that makes many dietsfail.

And really, anything that replaces what she describes as “rabbit-food salads” (the ’90s were a funny time) with healthy it-ingredients like zoodles is a win in our book.

Keep reading fortwo of Joy Bauer’sfavorite comfort food classics with a healthy twist:Vegetable Lo Mein (with a zoodle update) and Buffalo “Wings”made with super-popular, super-tasty cauliflower.
Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (5)

Vegetable Lo Mein

Makes 4 servings

Drop the take-out menu! Whip up this delicious Vegetable Lo Mein with zucchini noodles to cut the carbs and calories without cutting the flavor. Serve it as a side dish or toss in some diced chicken, beef, seafood, or baked tofu for a healthy (and tasty) meal.

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4 large zucchini
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced, or ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, or 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce (optional)
1 scallion (green onion), sliced, for garnish

To make zucchini noodles, cut off the ends of the zucchini and julienne using a spiral slicer to create noodlestrands. If you don’t have a spiral slicer, use a vegetable peeler or knife. (You can peel the zucchini or leave theskin intact.) Wrap the noodle strands in a few layers of paper towels and squeeze to remove some of themoisture.

Liberally coat a large skillet with nonstick oil spray and warm it over medium heat. Sauté the onion, stirringfrequently, until it is slightly browned.

Add the garlic, ginger, and bell pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until thepepper is tender. Add the carrot, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce. Continue to cook for anadditional 3 minutes.

Finally, add in the zucchini and the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes, or untilzucchini noodles are tender. Add pepper and hot sauce, if desired. Serve with scallions on top.

Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (6)

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” with Bleu Cheese Dip

Makes 4 servings
I have a creative health-ified recipe for buffalo wings that gives you thedelicious kick of traditional wings without all the extra junk. It worksperfectly for a party appetizer or if you just want to indulge in bar-like farewhile watching the big game at home. And definitely serve it with thecreamy Bleu Cheese Dip (below). Touchdown!

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 teaspoon butter

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick oil spray andset aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, and ½ cup water. Whiskuntil smooth. Toss in the cauliflower pieces and coat thoroughly.

Place the battered cauliflower pieces in a single layer on the preparedbaking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through.

A few minutes before the cauliflower is done, pour the hot sauce andbutter into a large skillet and melt over medium-low heat.

When the cauliflower is done, toss it into the skillet with the hot saucemixture, stirring to thoroughly coat it.

Place the cauliflower back on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast foran additional 25 minutes, until it becomes crispy. Serve.

Bleu Cheese Dip

Makes 6 servings

6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until velvety smooth.

This bread-free grilled cheese is another healthy eating game-changer. For dessert, try this decadent, superfood-packed turmeric milkshake.

Healthy comfort food recipes from Joy Bauer | Well+Good (2024)


What comfort food makes you feel good? ›

Comfort foods, the study found, actually do make us feel less sad. So what were the top seven items on my poll? Mac and cheese hit the No. 1 spot, followed by beef stew, apple pie and ice cream, chicken and dumplings/chicken pot pie, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, bread pudding and fried chicken.

Does Joy Bauer have kids? ›

Joy Bauer was born on November 6, 1963 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a producer, known for Health + Happiness (2018), WGN Morning News (1994) and Good Food, Good Deeds (2011). She has been married to Ian Bauer since April 3, 1993. They have three children.

What does Joy Bauer eat in a day? ›

  • Follow these 3 rules.
  • Wake up and exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Omit starchy carbs like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.
  • Joy's 1-Day Detox Menu.
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with an orange.
  • Lunch: Bloat-blasting salad.
  • Afternoon snack: Handful of nuts + an apple.
Jan 16, 2019

Is Joy Bauer from the Today Show? ›

Joy L. Bauer, MS, RDN (born November 6, 1963), is the host of NBC's "Health & Happiness" and the health and nutrition expert on The Today Show.

Where was Jack Bauer born? ›

Jack Bauer
Born:February 18, 1966 Santa Monica, California, USA
Father:Phillip Bauer
Sibling(s):Graem Bauer (brother)
Age:48 (Underground)
20 more rows

What foods make your body feel good? ›

Fruit, veg and wholegrains. All vegetables and many fruits contain complex carbohydrates. These are important for stabilising your mood, as they release sugar into your body slowly. Other sources of complex carbs include wholemeal bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, beans, pulses and oats.

What comfort food boosts mood? ›

12 Mood-Boosting Foods: Eat Your Way to Happiness!
  • Dark chocolate. Rich in flavonoids, dark chocolate has been linked to increased serotonin levels which may help alleviate symptoms of depression. ...
  • Bananas. ...
  • Berries. ...
  • Oily fish. ...
  • Nuts and seeds. ...
  • Oats. ...
  • Spinach. ...
  • Avocados.
Oct 12, 2023

Does comfort food make you feel better? ›

A little comfort food might improve or sustain your mood in the short term. But eating too many foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt can also put you at risk for health problems over time. Paying attention to physical and emotional cues can help you find the right balance when it comes to enjoying comfort food.

What is a comfort food when you are not feeling well? ›

Proteins like chicken and turkey and carbs like noodles and rice provide the energy you need to fight illness. The best comforting soups include: Chicken Noodle Soup. Matzo Ball Soup.

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