Have a Heart-Healthy Spoonful of Comfort

Published: Saturday, January 15, 2022
Cardiologist at Georgia Heart Institute

The cooler days and nights are settling in. Something about a chill in the air makes all the cozy, warm foods sound even better. Homemade spaghetti anyone? And don’t forget the freshly baked brownies, too.

Unfortunately, these comforting and hearty dishes aren’t typically known for being especially healthy. However, with a few ingredient swaps, some of these seasonal favorites can actually help support heart health.

That means you can enjoy all the delicious flavors of your go-to comfort foods while also doing your heart a favor.

What Makes a Recipe Heart-Healthy?

First things first, though—what does it mean for a recipe to be healthy for your heart? There’s no single answer, actually.

In some cases, tweaking a recipe to make it more heart-healthy involves replacing certain ingredients with a healthier option. But sometimes making something healthier for your heart may include adding nutrients, such as foods containing heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, higher fiber content and less added sugar.

For those with known congestive heart failure, it is necessary to watch out for sodium content in the recipe.

Here are a few recipes you might want to add to your meal plans:

Chicken Pot Pie

Who doesn’t love a good pot pie? There’s nothing quite like a steaming biteful of creamy goodness! But that “creamy” sensation often comes from ingredients that aren’t so heart-healthy.

Cook up a twist on the classic favorite. This recipe is packed with lots of vegetables, as well as a low-sodium chicken broth and olive oil, which is a healthy fat.


Did you grow up eating meatloaf? Many of us love this classic comfort food! But the “original” version often uses fatty ground beef and ample amounts of sugary ketchup.

Consider this version instead. It uses ground turkey in place of the ground beef, adds the tomatoey goodness with tomato paste and other flavors rather than ketchup, and uses quinoa instead of breadcrumbs for an unexpected dose of fiber!

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

If you’re looking for something new to serve up on Taco Tuesday, this could be the perfect recipe! While most of us love Mexican food packed with melted cheese, it isn’t always the most heart-healthy option.

This delicious recipe has all of the flavor you love, but with a healthier take on it. The casserole uses chicken as a source of lean protein, reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend for that melty, cheesy goodness without all the fat, and onions, peppers, and tomatoes for full-fledged flavor.

Turkey Tortilla Soup

There is nothing quite like a warm bowl of soup on a fall or winter evening. The good news is that most soups, other than cream-based versions, are pretty heart-healthy.

This one will become a good-for-you-favorite. It uses reduced-sodium versions of common ingredients like chicken broth and taco seasoning, while packing in the veggies with tomatoes, green chiles, and corn.

Pasta Primavera

Like many, pasta is one of my go-to comfort foods. This pasta primavera recipe is loaded with vegetables, and sure to satisfy your pasta cravings.

While this recipe uses heart healthy olive oil; for added heart-healthy benefits, I recommend using whole grain pasta, which also boosts fiber. Plus, skipping or to reducing the amount of parmesan cheese will cut saturated fat.

Heart Care For Every Stage of Life

As the state’s most forward-thinking heart and vascular program, Georgia Heart Institute is reimagining the patient experience, integrating services across all heart and vascular specialties and incorporating innovative breakthroughs into the care our experts provide every day. Ultimately, our impressive team of cardiologists, surgeons and highly-trained specialists is doing whatever it takes to keep patients’ hearts at their healthiest. We’re here to save and improve lives for generations.