35 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes You’ll Crave

Craving comfort food, but also want to stick to your health goals? Try these healthy comfort food recipes for a lighter spin on all your favorite classics.

Ahhh it’s that time of the year isn’t it? If you’re anything like me, you go into hibernation mode and crave warm, cozy food… comfort food all winter long.

A healthy spin on a comfort food classic, these spaghetti squash tuna casserole boats are filled with loads of creamy noodle goodness. Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and paleo!

Making Comfort Food Healthy

What is comfort food? And what makes it unhealthy/healthy?

Comfort food is really anything that brings you comfort! It might be a meal from your childhood or it might be a cultural meal that reminds you of “home.” Typically, comfort food dishes are heavier meals made with meat, cream, cheese, etc.

To lighten them up, you can make swaps and switch out a variety of ingredients. The key for all of my upgraded comfort food recipes? They have to taste similar (or better) than the original meal! If they taste too “healthy” they simply won’t satisfy a craving for the classic dish.

Baked eggplant pizza slices on a sheet pan.

Easy Ingredient Swaps

When tweaking recipes to make them a bit healthier, I have an arsenal of go-to swaps. Here are a few that I use often:

  • Cauliflower and/or Cauliflower Rice – Have a dish that uses rice or potatoes? Cauliflower is a great, low-carb, low-calorie swap! You can use it so many different ways — fried “rice,” as a pizza crust or even mashed “potatoes!” There’s a reason this ingredient has a cult following.
  • Pumpkin puree – Did you know you can substitute pumpkin puree in place of flour, oil and eggs in boxed baked goods? Yep! It seems kind of like magic, but the end result is a super moist, delicious baked good. I even use it in my healthy apple muffins.
  • Spaghetti squash and zoodles – Instead of traditional pasta, use spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles! These veggie noodles add fiber and flavor without the empty calories that come with traditional pasta. Learn the best way to cook spaghetti squash here.
  • Leaner meat – Use leaner meat like chicken or turkey in place of beef in traditional recipes. Bet you won’t even notice the difference!
  • Beans – Beans can easily be swapped for meat in most recipes to make them vegetarian. Beans add a good amount of protein and fiber to a dish and they’re low in cholesterol. Another fun way to incorporate beans is to buy legume-based pasta which has more fiber and protein than traditional pasta.
  • Tofu – I love using firm tofu in place of meat or cheese for savory dishes, but silken tofu works great as a sub for dairy in pies too. I use it in my vegan pumpkin pie!

Healthy Comfort Food Swaps

For this post, I thought of as many traditional comfort foods as I could and then linked my swap for the healthy version. Did I miss one of your faves? I would love to recreate it! Leave me a comment and I’ll get recipe testing. 🙂

Wooden spoon stirring a pan of healthy mushroom stroganoff pasta.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

Craving beef stroganoff?  Instead of feeling super heavy and full after a bowl of traditional stroganoff, try my mushroom stroganoff! Instead of egg noodles, a heavy cream sauce and beef, I created a recipe with high protein noodles, a creamy coconut sauce and mushrooms!

One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

4.80 from 59 votes
Healthy, protein-packed vegan mushroom stroganoff made with savory mushrooms, lentil pasta and a creamy coconut milk sauce.
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A skillet of healthy, protein-packed vegan mushroom stroganoff made with savory mushrooms, lentil pasta and a creamy coconut milk sauce.

Craving spaghetti and meatballs? Try my popeye turkey meatballs served over zucchini noodles. Prep the meatballs in advance and you have the easiest.dinner.ever.

Spinach Turkey Meatballs

4.12 from 9 votes
These simple clean eating Popeye turkey meatballs are moist and flavorful, loaded with veggies and require no binders! Meal prep a batch early in the week so you can add them to pasta, sandwiches, salads and more throughout the week!
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Turkey meatballs over zucchini noodles topped with tomato sauce.

Craving macaroni & cheese? Macaroni and cheese is one of the first things I think of when it comes to comfort food! I have two options for you… one that is vegan with a cashew sauce and one that is higher in protein!

Vegan Mac and Cheese

4.16 from 19 votes
The best vegan mac and cheese made with cashews, potatoes and nutritional yeast! It’s easy to make, creamy, cheesy and so delicious. This comfort food classic turned plant-based is guaranteed to be a new family favorite.
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A spoonful of vegan mac and cheese being held overtop of a bowl filled with vegan mac and cheese.

Protein Packed Healthy Mac and Cheese

4.40 from 68 votes
A healthy mac and cheese recipe that is packed with protein, broccoli and spinach. Perfect as a full meal and a sneaky way to get your kids to eat more veggies.
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A bowl of creamy, healthy protein packed mac and cheese made with chickpea pasta, broccoli and spinach. Macaroni is topped with extra cheddar.

Craving meatloaf? Did anyone not grow up eating meatloaf? Didn’t think so. This lentil loaf is one of my most popular recipes on EBF and for good reason! It’s packed with flavor and topped with a maple glaze. Mmm!

Vegan Lentil Loaf

4.43 from 173 votes
This hearty vegan lentil loaf is packed with flavor, loaded with plant-based protein and makes for a delicious vegetarian entree for a holiday meal.
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An overhead shot of a cutting board with a partially sliced lentil loaf on parchment paper. A knife lays on the cutting board perpendicular to the loaf.

Craving baked ziti? All forms of pasta are considered comfort food in my book. Instead of making traditional baked ziti, try this turkey cauliflower baked ziti! It’s just as good as the traditional version but low-carb, gluten-free and packed with vegetables!

Turkey Cauliflower Baked Ziti

4.31 from 43 votes
This turkey cauliflower baked ziti uses cooked cauliflower instead of pasta noodles so it’s low-carb and gluten-free while still being cheesy and delicious. 
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Cauliflower baked ziti topped with parmesan before its cooked.

Craving aburger and fries? You’re going to have to trust me on this one: tempeh burgers paired with sweet potato fries, zucchini fries, butternut squash fries, turnip fries or jicama fries. So many fry options! The vegan burger holds together super well and is delicious straight off the grill, but if you’re not up for temeph burgers I have options with turkey, chicken and black beans too!

Tempeh Veggie Burgers

4.09 from 24 votes
A delicious veggie burger that’s made with tempeh and holds together so well you can cook it on the grill! Added bonus, it’s packed with plant-based protein.
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Stack of three tempeh burgers on buns.

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers

4.39 from 54 votes
These spinach and feta turkey burgers are quick and easy to prepare and taste delicious grilled and served on a bun with your favorite burger toppings.
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Spinach and feta turkey burger on a bun with avocado, onions, tomatoes and sprouts.

Easy Black Bean Burgers

3.77 from 34 votes
These vegan black bean burgers are loaded with flavor, easy to make and hold together super well!
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Black bean burger on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard and pickles.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers

4.12 from 42 votes
Cilantro lime chicken burgers that are packed with refreshing flavor! The perfect summer main dish. Gluten-free and paleo-friendly. 
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Chicken burgers cooking in a grill pan on the stove.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

4.80 from 5 votes
Satisfy your craving for fries with healthy baked sweet potato fries that are actually crispy! Perfect for serving alongside a burger or sandwich.
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Crispy baked sweet potato fries on parchment paper next to a small bowl of ketchup.

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

4.07 from 15 votes
Air fryer sweet potato fries are crispier than baked sweet potatoes fries and much healthier than deep-fried ones! Plus, they cook up in 10 minutes.
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Overhead shot of a plate with fries, there is a ramekin of salt in focus.

Baked Zucchini Fries

4.14 from 43 votes
These baked zucchini fries are breaded with almond flour and parmesan to create a crispy and delicious side dish! Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
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Plate of crispy zucchini fries on a plate with a creamy dip topped with chopped parsley.

Butternut Squash Fries

3.67 from 21 votes
Looking for healthy French fries? Try these easy oil-free baked butternut squash fries with only 2 simple ingredients – butternut squash and sea salt! 
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Butternut squash fries on a plate with a bowl of ketchup.

Baked Turnip Fries

4.67 from 3 votes
Fries made from turnips? Yup! If you’ve never tried a turnip, now is the time. These flavorful baked turnip fries are the perfect way to get more vegetables on your table.
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A white plate of turnip fries and a jar of ranch dip on top of a purple napkin.

Baked Jicama Fries

3.76 from 45 votes
Low-carb, gut-friendly baked jicama fries with turmeric and black pepper. Serve with guacamole for a delicious summer side. Paleo, vegan and keto-friendly.
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Golden Gut Baked Jicama Fries with Turmeric and Black Pepper and a dish of guacamole.

Craving tuna noodle casserole? I took a fun spin on the classic recipe by making spaghetti squash tuna noodle casserole boats.

Spaghetti Squash Tuna Casserole

4 from 23 votes
A healthy spin on a comfort food classic, these spaghetti squash tuna noodle casserole boats are filled with loads of creamy goodness and ample protein. Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and paleo!
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Two spaghetti squash tuna casserole boats on white plates.

Craving pizza? Try this eggplant pizza uses sliced eggplant instead of a carb-heavy breaded crust. Tons of flavor and super simple to assemble, this recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

Low Carb Eggplant Pizza

4.18 from 117 votes
A low carb eggplant pizza recipe that uses sliced eggplant as the crust instead of a carb-heavy breaded crust. Tons of flavor and super simple to assemble, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. 
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Slices of eggplant on a baking sheet with parchment paper-- they are eggplant pizzas topped with cheese, sauce, and some greens.

Craving lasagna? Try my low carb, healthy lasagna made with zucchini noodles and tofu or make turkey eggplant casserole that layers slices of eggplant along with ground turkey.

Skinny Tofu Zucchini Lasagna

4.88 from 8 votes
Low carb, healthy lasagna made with zucchini noodles and tofu. This vegetarian main is packed with protein and loaded with Italian flavor!
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Slice of zucchini noodle tofu lasagna on a plate with salad.

Turkey Eggplant Casserole

4.24 from 82 votes
Comfort food made healthy, this cheesy eggplant casserole layers eggplant with protein-rich turkey and mozzarella. The best part? It bakes up in 30 minutes!
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Baking dish of a cheesy eggplant casserole topped with cheese and fresh parsley.

Craving broccoli cheese casserole? This version of cheesy broccoli casserole has protein-packed quinoa instead of instant rice, freshly grated cheddar cheese and a homemade sauce instead of canned soup.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

4.14 from 61 votes
Cheesy broccoli quinoa casserole made healthy! This version has protein-packed quinoa, fresh broccoli florets and a homemade sauce instead of canned soup.
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Broccoli quinoa casserole with cheddar cheese in a baking dish.

Craving mashed potatoes? Swap cauliflower for potatoes in my mashed cauliflower. You’ll save half the calories and 1/3 of the carbs! #worthit

Mashed Cauliflower

4.47 from 15 votes
Swap potatoes for cauliflower with this healthy mashed cauliflower recipe! It's the perfect side dish and comes together quickly with only 6 ingredients. It's just as creamy and delicious as mashed potatoes, but has half the calories and one-third of the carbs.
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A bowl of mashed cauliflower topped with chives. A serving spoon rests inside the bowl.

Craving tacos? Try this fun take on tacos… taco zucchini boats! Instead of being served on tortillas, they’re served in zucchini boats. There’s no dairy but shhh no one will notice with all of the flavor packed into this meal! Another option when you’re craving tacos? My turkey taco salad or tempeh taco salad. Both options are so yummy!

Taco Zucchini Boats

5 from 7 votes
Protein packed and dairy-free, these taco zucchini boats are perfect for a quick and easy healthy weeknight dinner. 
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View from above of baking dish filled with turkey taco zucchini boats topped with avocado, jalapeño and tomato. Dish on a kitchen towel.

Healthy Taco Salad

4.03 from 38 votes
This healthy taco salad is made with ground turkey taco meat instead of beef and is packed with veggies. It comes together quickly making it perfect for a weeknight meal.
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This healthy taco salad is made with ground turkey taco meat instead of beef and is packed with veggies. It comes together quickly making it perfect for a weeknight meal.

Tempeh Taco Salad Meal Prep Bowls

3.89 from 9 votes
These tempeh taco salad meal prep bowls are an easy on-the-go option for lunch or quick dinner. The combo of protein-packed tempeh taco meat, black beans and veggies makes for a delicious and satisfying plant-based meal. Vegan and gluten-free.
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A glass dish with tempeh salad, including tempeh, black beans, lettuce tomatoes, and lime. Salsa, tempeh, and chips on the table on the side.

Craving enchiladas? My healthy chicken enchiladas are one of the most popular recipes on EBF and if you’re vegetarian, I highly recommend my sweet potato enchilada bake. If I’m bringing a meal to someone I usually pick one of these recipes. New baby, surgery, you name it! You’re getting enchiladas or the enchilada bake! They’re easy and a total crowd pleaser!

Healthy Chicken Enchiladas

4.27 from 199 votes
These healthy chicken enchiladas are packed with flavor and nutritious ingredients! The homemade enchilada sauce is the star of this recipe.
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Two chicken enchiladas on a plate topped with cheese and cilantro with a fork on the plate.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchilada Bake

4.83 from 28 votes
Layered with tortillas, sweet potatoes, black beans, cheese and a homemade enchilada sauce. Vegetarian, gluten-free and absolutely delicious!
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Slice of sweet potato black bean enchilada bake layered with tortillas, sweet potatoes, black beans, cheese and a homemade enchilada sauce with slices of avocado on the side. Remaining enchilada bake in baking dish behind.

Craving fried rice? If fried rice isn’t on your comfort food list, who are you?! Just kidding… but I love fried rice! Try this upgraded cauliflower fried rice or my signature quinoa fried rice the next time you’re craving an Asian meal.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

4 from 5 votes
This vegetarian cauliflower fried rice has the texture and flavor you crave from traditional fried rice, but it’s loaded with veggies, high in fiber and low in carbs. Serve with your favorite protein for a nourishing, paleo-friendly meal. 
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Cauliflower rice with carrots, corn, and broccoli in a pan.=

Quinoa Fried “Rice”

4.06 from 19 votes
This quinoa fried rice is a healthy take on traditional fried rice made with protein-packed quinoa. It's packed with veggies and takes less and 30 minutes to whip up. It's the perfect weeknight meal.
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A serving bowl filled with quinoa fried rice. A black spoon rests below the bowl. Just out of frame is a bottle of sriracha and a bowl of green onions.

Craving shrimp and grits? Pair cauliflower grits with blackened shrimp to make a lightened up, low-carb version of the classic Southern recipe. The result = delicious flavor and extra veggies!

Cauliflower Shrimp and Grits

4.25 from 12 votes
Pair cauliflower grits with blackened shrimp to make a lightened up, low-carb version of the classic Southern recipe. The result = delicious flavor and extra veggies!
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Plate of cauliflower cheese grits topped with blackened shrimp and chipped fresh parsley. A fork is resting on the plate.

Desserts

Craving baked goods? Baked goods will forever be one of my go-to comfort foods! I love these peanut butter oatmeal cookies and these flourless black bean brownies. Both are fan favorites… no one will know they’re healthy!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

4.54 from 30 votes
Peanut butter oatmeal cookies made with just 10 ingredients and one bowl. These cookies are healthier than most — gluten-free, made without butter or oil and only about 100 calories per cookie!
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Stack of three chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies with coconut.

Black Bean Brownies

4.55 from 135 votes
These are the best black bean brownies!! They’re so fudgy and delicious. No one will be able to tell that they’re flourless and made with beans!
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Stack of flourless back bean brownies, topped with chocolate chips and walnuts.

Craving Ice Cream? Raise your hand if you love a nightly bowl of ice cream! {We all raise our hands.} Well lucky for you, I’ve got some upgraded options for you – mint chocolate chip made from avocados, banana ice cream and chocolate ice cream made from bananas. Hey, don’t knock it ’til ya try it!

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

4.67 from 9 votes
Homemade banana ice cream made with one simple ingredient – frozen bananas! No ice cream maker needed. Just blend until creamy and serve.
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Ice cream scooper scooping a serving of banana ice cream from a loaf pan.

Healthy Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

4.59 from 46 votes
Make healthy chocolate banana ice cream with frozen bananas, cacao powder, almond milk and almond butter. It's absolutely delicious, healthy, dairy-free and doesn't require an ice cream maker!
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Two bowls with scoops of chocolate banana ice cream.

Avocado Ice Cream

3.92 from 75 votes
This avocado ice cream is so creamy, made with only six ingredients and doesn't require an ice cream maker! It’s also vegan and gluten-free!
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Bowl of avocado ice cream garnished with fresh mint.

More Collections for Inspiration

35 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes (+ Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe)

5 from 2 votes
Here's a recipe for healthy mac and cheese that's packed with protein as well as 34 other healthy comfort food recipes you'll crave!
A bowl of creamy, healthy protein packed mac and cheese made with chickpea pasta, broccoli and spinach. Macaroni is topped with extra cheddar.
Print RecipePin Recipe
Prep Time 5minutes
Cook Time 15minutes
Total Time 20minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 18oz boxBarilla Chickpea Rotini,
  • 4cupsbroccoli florets
  • 1Tablespoonbutter
  • 1cupmilk, I used unsweetened almond milk
  • 1Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedge
  • 1 ½cupsreduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (more, if needed)*, about 6 ounces
  • 1handfulchopped baby spinach
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chickpea rotini pasta, return to a boil and cook for a total of 8 minutes, adding in the broccoli florets at the four minute mark. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  • In the same large pot over low/medium heat add butter, milk, salt and pepper. Once butter has melted add in drained pasta and broccoli, spreadable cheese wedge and shredded cheese. Let cheese melt a little, about 30 seconds. Use a spoon to stir everything together until pasta is well coated with cheese, adding more cheese if needed. Add in chopped baby spinach and toss until wilted.
  • Serve immediately with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Notes

  • Pasta: As I mentioned above, I love using legume pasta to amp up the nutrition count. That said, you can totally use whatever pasta you prefer.
  • Veggies: Not a fan of spinach and broccoli? Feel free to use other veggies!
  • Cheese: I used organic Irish cheddar cheese and shredded it myself. In case you were wondering, let me just confirm that real cheese is 100x better than powdered cheese or even pre-shredded cheese. Fresh is always better and shredding the cheese takes no time at all. However, you can use whatever you prefer including reduced fat cheddar cheese.
  • Vegan + Dairy Free: If you want to make this recipe vegan or dairy-free you can use vegan butter, vegan shredded cheddar cheese and 1 Tablespoon of vegan cream cheese instead of the spreadable cheese wedge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(made with reduced fat cheddar cheese)Calories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 26gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 354mgFiber: 10gSugar: 3g
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: healthy comfort food

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Recipe Rating




    16 comments
    1. Kelly
      August 24, 2022 AT 8:38 am

      5 stars
      Hey, Your peanut butter oatmeal cookies were the best!I tried them yesterday and it were supper delicious. I’ll like to recommend you a website for dietitian recipes and easy dinner ideas. Go check this website it will really help you-
      https://www.dinnerin321.com/recipes .

      Reply
      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 24, 2022 AT 12:41 pm

        So glad you enjoyed these cookies, Kelly! Thanks for making them and for the review. I so appreciate it.

        Reply
    2. Ethan
      July 6, 2022 AT 1:15 pm

      5 stars
      Thank you for the article! Your recipes are the bomb! I love to eat delicious food, but it is very rare that delicious food is combined with the fact that it is healthy food. CBD gummies But your recipes are truly that unique combination of healthy and wholesome foods that are deliciously delicious. Thanks again, now there will be a very tasty addition to my recipe book.

      Reply
    3. jim
      March 2, 2022 AT 3:21 pm

      Love the use of the chickpea pasta; making this ASAP. Well done!

      Reply
      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 3, 2022 AT 9:45 am

        Thanks, Jim! Let me know how it turns out for you 🙂

        Reply
    4. Liman Mia
      August 30, 2021 AT 3:22 am

      Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing blog with us. Such an amazing health tips keep sharing.

      Reply
      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 30, 2021 AT 10:24 am

        Thanks, Liman!

        Reply
    5. Kanan Patel
      April 5, 2021 AT 9:50 am

      Love your post. Can you make healthy food list for indian audience. like indian food list.

      Reply
      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 5, 2021 AT 12:45 pm

        Hey Kanan – Here are a few Indian inspired dishes on my blog: Mattar Tofu, Tikka Tempeh Masala and Channa Masala. There are also some additional Indian recipes linked in those blog posts. Hopefully that’s helpful!

        Reply
Parchment paper lined with protein balls.

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