Comfort For Belly and Mind


As we delve deeper into winter, and the temperature continues to drop, our primal cravings for simple comfort foods continue to rise. (Un)fortunately, it’s the new year, and our weight-loss resolutions have just come into fruition. This is one of nature’s cruelest paradoxes.

So how do we satisfy our sweet tooth and our cold, empty bellies without all dangers and consequences of the glorious sugar-coated, batter-fried, butter-drenched, cheese-filled comfort foods we’ve grown up eating? In Zinczenko and Goulding’s latest book, Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods, they turn “favorite comfort foods into mouth-watering weight-loss weapons” by offering simple tricks and techniques to making iconic American comfort dishes healthier. Below are just a few examples.

Mac & Cheese

“Many restaurants use low-cost, high-calorie cheeselike substances of the Velveeta variety. Instead, swap in bechamel – an easy, creamy white sauce. Add flavor-packed sharp Cheddar, along with lower-calorie Swiss and mozzarella for more meltability. To finish, top with Parmesan and panko, and broil for a crunchy crust.”


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, fusili, or cavatappi pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or other Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

How to Make

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain and reserve the pastas.
  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 Gruyere, 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 bread crumbs and Parmesan, and season with black pepper. Broil until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

This recipe contains roughly 595 calories, 28G fat, and 462 MG sodium.  The estimated average restaurant mac & cheese contains 1,380 calories, 96G fat, and 3,150 MG sodium. You’d be saving yourself 785 calories, 68 g fat, and 2,688 mg sodium!


Ice Cream Sundae

“Seek out quality ice cream that lists milk, not cream, as the first ingredient. We like Breyers Natural Vanilla, at under 150 calories per serving. Garnish it with high-impact fruit, chocolate, and nuts, which add flavor rather than mere sweetness. And serve it in a rocks glass, which looks great while limiting portion size.”


  • 2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 scoops good-quality vanilla ice cream, such as Breyers Natural Vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp dark chocolate syrup or fudge sauce (such as Ghirardelli) warmed in a bowl
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped

How to Make

  1. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet on medium high. Halve the bananas length-wise, being 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. Makes 4 servings.

This recipe contains 314 calories, 13G fat, and 37G sugars. The estimated average restaurant ice cream sundae contains 840 calories, 55G fat, and 95G sugars. You’d be saving yourself 526 calories, 42G fat, and 58G sugars!


1. Zinczenko, David, and Matt Goulding. “Eat Better.” Men’s Health. 07 Jan 2013: 132-136. Print.

2. Zinczenko, David, and Matt Goulding. Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods. Rodale Books, 2012. Print. <;