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Comfort Food Recipes Without the Calories

By VALERIE COGSWELL 

As far as comfort food goes, pizza and ice cream are undeniably among everyone's favorites. But if you're looking for something that will send you into a state of bliss without derailing your diet, try one of the better-for-you comfort-food recipes listed below. Both are packed with protein and contain less than 250 calories for a delectable, guilt-free meal!

Sriracha Chicken Pizza

Spicy Chicken and Basil Pizza
The average take-out pizza is loaded with fat and empty carbohydrates. To lighten up this comfort-food favorite, high-fiber pita bread stands in for traditional crust and reduced-fat cheese replaces the full-fat version.

Fresh chicken adds a dose of metabolism-boosting protein. Try roasting bone-in, skin-on chicken breast in bulk for the week so you always have a quality source of protein on hand. Or simply remove the skin and bones from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. For a full pizza per person, simply double the recipe.

(For full nutritional information, here is a link to the recipe we created in MyPlate).

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 (half a pizza per person)
Calories: 159 per serving

Ingredients
*  2 high-fiber pitas or your favorite gluten-free version (I use six-inch Arnold 100% Whole Wheat Pocket Thins Flatbread.)
*  Fat-free cooking spray as needed
*  1 heaping cup roasted, shredded chicken breast
*  Sriracha sauce as needed
*  1/4 cup all-natural tomato sauce (Tomatoes, not tomato paste, should be the first ingredient.)
*  1 cup reduced-fat (not low-fat) mozzarella cheese
*  Fresh basil, torn, for garnish
*  Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to low broil. Place pitas on a baking sheet covered in foil. Spray both sides of the pitas with fat-free cooking spray. Broil lightly until slightly browned on each side.

2. Toss chicken with desired amount of Sriracha in a bowl (add a few drops at a time -- it's spicy). Set aside.

3. Spread tomato sauce on top of pitas. Top with cheese and then spicy chicken.

4. Spray top of pizzas with fat-free cooking spray. Broil until cheese is melted, and crust is crispy.

5. Top with torn basil leaves and freshly ground black pepper. Let cool for five minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Banana Choklat Fro-Yo
For those times when only a cool, sweet treat will do, this protein-packed dessert tastes just like your favorite frozen yogurt, just without all of the added sugar. Whipped, frozen bananas serve as an easy vitamin-rich base for this creamy concoction.

I used a shot of Power Crunch's Proto Whey Double Chocolate Protein Powder or you can use your favorite chocolate protein powder. For best results, use a food processor (no ice-cream machine required) and slice and freeze bananas ahead of time.

(For full nutritional information, here is a link to the recipe we created in MyPlate).

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4
Calories: 197 per serving

Ingredients
*  4 large ripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
*  4 scoops Power Crunch Proto Whey Double Chocolate Protein Powder (or your favorite chocolate protein powder)
*  1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
*  1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
*  1 tablespoon cocoa powder
*  Pinch of sea salt
*  Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions
1. Place frozen banana slices in a food processor and purée until coarse.
2. Add remaining ingredients and purée until smooth and creamy.
3. If you prefer soft-serve, scoop into a bowl and enjoy immediately.
4. For a firmer yogurt, pour mix into an airtight container, cover and freeze for approximately three hours.
5.  Enjoy!

--Valerie

Readers -- What are your favorite comfort foods? Have you ever tried making healthier versions of them? What are some healthy substitutions you used? What is your favorite healthy comfort food? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

A unique blend of chef and certified nutrition coach rolled into one, Valerie Cogswell attended Johnson & Wales University, where she earned degrees in both nutrition and culinary arts. For the past 11 years, Valerie has worked one-on-one with thousands of clients, helping them let go of their dieting pasts and get fit with the food they love. She currently serves as head chef and nutrition coach of Venice Nutrition, and her recipes are featured in the New York Times best-seller Body Confidence. You can find Valerie's nutrition and fitness tips, as well as her restaurant-worthy recipe collection, on Facebook.

 Find more from Valerie on her websiteTwitter and Instagram.

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