Comfort food can be low-cal

The stock market roller coaster, the housing crisis, the dreaded ”R“ word — it's stressful out there. Where can we turn? How about comfort foods? Unfortunately most comfort foods are notoriously high in calories. Knowing that, we thought it would be helpful to reach out to a few foodies and chefs to find several tasty, low-calorie comfort food recipes.

This healthy recipe is by Lisa Lillien of Hungry Girl ( and author of Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World (St. Martin's Griffin, April 29, 2008)

Kickin' chicken pot pie

8 ounces raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

3 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 (10.75-ounce) can Campbell's 98 percent Fat Free Cream of Celery Soup

3 servings Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls refrigerated dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a pan spritzed with non-stick spray, cook chicken pieces for several minutes until light brown (cooked but still tender). Set aside.

Heat frozen vegetables in the microwave according to package instructions.

Combine chicken, vegetables and soup, and place in a 9-inch round baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until mixture is hot and bubbly, stirring halfway through.

While pie filling is cooking, unroll 3 crescent rolls. Combine pieces into one large ball.

With a rolling pin, roll dough out (super-thin) into a circle just large enough to fit inside the dish (a little less than 9 inches in diameter).

Place dough on top of filling and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (¼ pie): 235 calories, 6g fat, 723mg sodium, 26g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 6g sugars, 18g protein

This healthy recipe is by Tosca Reno, author of Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook (Robert Kennedy Publishing, 2007) (

Brown rice meatloaf

1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken or bison

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 egg

¾ cup plain, low-fat yogurt cheese

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped red, green or yellow bell pepper

½ cup finely chopped celery

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari (excellent for anyone on a gluten-free diet)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano

1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Place in a loaf pan sprayed with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (1 cup): 245 ­calories, 5g fat, 184mg ­sodium, 29g carbs, 1g ­dietary fiber, 19g protein

This healthy recipe is from Executive Chef Dean Rucker of the Golden Door, Escondido, Calif. (

Jam dot cookies

1 cup whole-wheat flour, sifted

1 cup blanched slivered almonds, ground into a coarse meal

1 cup oats, ground into a coarse meal

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Apricot jam or your favorite fruit spread

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, almonds, oats and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, combine the canola oil, maple syrup, orange juice and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. For each cookie, scoop 1 tablespoon of batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, make a well in the center of the cookie and fill it with 1 teaspoon of jam. Repeat the process with the remaining batter and jam.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Makes 30 cookies.

Nutritional information per serving: (1 cookie) 100 calories, 4g fat, 1mg sodium, 14g carbs, 2g dietary fiber, 2g protein

This healthy recipe is from Lara Rondinelli, R.D., and Jennifer Bucko of The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook (American Diabetes Association, 2008)

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, founder and editor of, the health and fitness network and author of The Diet Detective's Calorie Bargain Bible (Simon & Schuster, 2007).