The next 12 months hold a lot of promise. And for many of us, it also holds a lot of unknowns and worries about our communities, health, economies and other global challenges. As we step into 2022, it’s important to stay positive and keep grounded in optimism and hope. These healthy comfort foods do exactly that:

  • They’re a place to return to when we (or our families) are feeling stressed.
  • They provide emotional comfort and security.
  •  And best of all, each of these delicious recipes are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that keep us healthy and energized for a year of opportunity and promise.

So, join us and get cozy with one of these hearty, satisfying meals.

Creamy Tomato Soup

This soup is so smooth, so rich and so creamy, that you’ll never go back to store-bought canned soup again. Best of all, this healthy comfort meal is soothing for both your soul and your body. Each spoon of this soup is bursting with nutrition thanks to generous helpings of celery, onions, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes, simply pureed to utter perfection.

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp honey (ideally local and organic)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 13-oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 c whole milk

Saute the onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and bay leaves in oil until fragrant and tender. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, then add four cups of boiling water. Simmer for 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the carrots and potatoes with a fork. Fish out the bay leaves, then pour all of the contents into a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

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High Protein Macaroni and Cheese

There’s something about this baked dish that hearkens back to the cozy innocence of childhood. This healthy comfort meal reinvents classic mac and cheese, making it high in fiber and protein thanks to the sneaky addition of chickpeas (we promise you and your guests won’t even notice this ingredient!). It’s pleasing for the whole family and a great weeknight meal when you’re busy.

  • 1 8-oz box of elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup of canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk or plant-based milk alternative
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Cook the macaroni according to its labeled instructions.

While the noodles are cooking, blend the chickpeas into a puree using a food processor or immersion blender and set aside.

In a frying pan, simmer the cottage cheese, shredded cheese, milk and seasoning until bubbly. Stir in the chickpeas and set aside.

Pour the macaroni into a casserole dish. Pour in the bubbling cheese mixture and mix gently. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until the edges are golden and crispy. Enjoy!

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Authentic Slow-Cooker Birria

You won’t believe how amazing your home will smell as the aromas from this authentic Mexican stew waft through your kitchen. Birria (pronounced “beer-ya”) is quick to make in a slow cooker, and all of the herbs and spices aren’t just flavorful. They’re also a great source of immune-boosting antioxidants in this healthy comfort meal. Plus, using a slow cooker makes prepping this dish effortless and saves a lot of time!

MEAT

  • 3 lbs of your favorite stew meat (beef, lamb or goat)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

BROTH

  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 4 dried whole chile peppers

HERBS

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp honey

TOASTED SPICES

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves (or see notes)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8–10 peppercorns

Rub the stewing meat with salt and pepper and set it aside to marinate. You can use any type of stewing meat that’s very firm, such as beef or lamb (chicken can work, but will fall apart a bit too much during the slow cooking process).

In a frying pan, toast the dried chiles for a few minutes until fragrant.

While the chiles are roasting in the pan, heat the broth in a pot until boiling. Add the chiles when done, turn off the heat, and let the chiles soak in the broth for 20-30 minutes.

In a frying pan, toast the spices (listed above under “toasted spices”) for 60 seconds, then set aside.

In another frying pan, saute the onion and garlic until translucent, then add the tomatoes, vinegar, oregano, allspice, bay leaves, toasted cinnamon and everything else listed above under “herbs.” Bring to a simmer and simmer for two minutes.

Pour the broth (with the chilies still in it) into a blender, along with the tomato mixture and the rest of the toasted spices. Blend until smooth.

Pour this sauce into your slow cooker, then add the meat. Cook for eight hours, then enjoy!

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