3 dietitian-approved comfort foods 

one pan taco skillet

Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, nachos…. Most of us don’t equate our favorite comfort foods with health. But what if your comforts foods could be cozy and nutritious? As firm believers that food should not only taste good but make us feel good, we’re bringing you 3 dietitian-approved recipes that are simple, tasty, and just plain comforting!    

1. One Pan Taco Skillet 

Whether you’re short on time or just have the winter cooking blahs – this one-pan taco skillet will be your new fave recipe. It’s quick, easy – and it’s tacos! 

Why it’s nutritious  

This skillet packs in a ton of good-for-you vitamins and nutrients that come from a variety of vegetables: sweet potatoes, bell peppers and onions. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of Vitamin A that can support eye health. Just a ½ cup provides the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A!  

While bell peppers and onions are an excellent source of vitamin C that helps support the immune system as well as fiber that can contribute to better digestion and regularity. 


  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil 
  • 1 lb. of ground chicken (Turkey/Beef works well too) 
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes cubed 
  • 1 red pepper chopped 
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped 
  • ½ cup salsa 
  • 3 Tbsp Taco Seasoning 

Toppings (optional): 

  • ½ cup chopped Cilantro 
  • ½ cup Shredded Cheese 
  • Avocado/Guacamole/Queso 

1. In a skillet heat up oil and add the onion, sweet potato and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes.  

2. Add the ground meat and sauté until fully cooked through. 

3. Add in the taco seasoning and salsa to the skillet and mix well. Once done add the cilantro, cheese, and any other toppings you want and enjoy! 

2. Vegan Pumpkin Chili 

Finding a balance between your comfort classics and the desire to eat healthy can sometimes be a challenge, but with this veggie-packed chili you don’t have to choose one or the other! 

Why it’s nutritious 

Loaded with plant-based proteins from navy beans and tempeh, this chili helps keep you feeling satisfied long after your last bite, while also providing nutrients like iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. Prefer animal protein? Swap the Tempeh for ground chicken, turkey or beef! 


  • 2, 8oz blocks of Tempeh (crumbled)  
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 can of navy bean, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 can pumpkin puree 
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped 
  • 4-5 chopped stalks of celery 
  • 1 medium carrot, diced 
  • 1 cup vegetable broth 
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried basil 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 square of dark chocolate 


  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil. Crumble in the tempeh and cook until golden brown. 
  1. Next add the bell pepper, celery, and carrot and sauté until soft. (About 10 minutes) 
  1. Add the pumpkin puree, chickpeas, vegetable broth, seasonings and chocolate and let simmer for 30-60 minutes stirring every so often.  
  1. After 30-60 minutes enjoy with some cornbread, serve with some cheese or any other toppings you enjoy! 

3. Roasted Butternut squash Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing 

Now I know what you’re thinking… a salad in the winter? Yes, most definitely! A warm roasted salad is a great way to integrate seasonal veggies while still offering those cozy warm vibes we all crave during the winter. 

Why it’s nutritious 

Prepared with butternut squash, a winter squash that’s packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A to support eye health, vitamin C for immune health and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against age-related damage. 

Another key ingredient? Olive oil! When you pair vegetables with a healthy fat like olive oil – your body can better absorb important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K more efficiently. Not just that, but olive oil is also a great source of healthy fats called monounsaturated fats, which promote a healthy heart, weight and mood.  

For the Salad: 

  • 1 bunch kale stem removed 
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro chopped 
  • 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed 
  • 1 small butternut squash peeled and diced 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp curry powder 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • pinch of salt 

Tahini Dressing: 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp tahini 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 garlic clove minced 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp pepper 
  • 1 tsp honey/maple syrup 


  1. Prepare the kale by cutting out the stem of the kale. Thinly slice the kale into ribbons and add to a large bowl. Add the chopped cilantro and toss to combine. 
  1. Add about 1 tbsp of olive oil to the kale mixture and massage until the kale is tender and completely coated in the olive oil. 
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add the diced butternut squash and rinsed chickpeas to a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands until the squash and chickpeas are well coated. 
  1. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender and chickpeas are lightly browned. 
  1. Meanwhile add the dressing ingredients to a small mason jar. Shake to mix. Adjust seasoning if you desire. 
  1. Transfer the butternut squash and chickpeas to the bowl of kale. Add the tahini dressing. Toss to coat. 

View more of Holly’s healthy recipes. 

About Holly 

Holly is a Licensed Registered Dietitian with her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Michigan State University and completed her supervised practice program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Holly’s goal is to inspire and empower others that living a healthy life is not only easy and enjoyable but attainable to all!

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       


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