7 Creative Comfort Foods to Warm a Cold Winter’s Night

7 creative comfort foods winter

When the cold winds of winter blow, can comfort foods be far behind? These seven recipes are sure to warm you from your nose to your toes. Some are simple, others take a little more effort, but they’re all creative and sure to whet your appetite.

Many thanks to the fabulous chefs from around the country who shared their recipes with Care2 readers.

Cait Byrnes Collard Greens

1. Sautéed Garlic Collard Greens
Holistic health coach Cait Byrnes says this has been her go-to winter comfort food these last few weeks. “Collard greens are nutrition powerhouses with loads of vitamin C and A, calcium, iron, and magnesium. As a cruciferous vegetable, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.”


  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 16 oz bag of pre-cut collard greens (or buy 2 bunches and chop them yourself!)
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil
  • salt to taste

Chop collard greens (if you didn’t buy pre-cut) and slice garlic. Pour oil in a large pan and turn the stove on to medium/low heat. (Too high and the garlic will burn!) Throw in the garlic and fill the pan with collards — they probably won’t all fit at first. Mix occasionally and as the collard greens cook down, add more to the pan. Continue to mix and add greens until they are all cooked and wilted, anywhere from 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your pan. Add salt to taste and serve.


2. Cheesy Vegan Rutabaga Casserole
SimpleSeasonal.com food blogger Rachel Hanawalt came up with this unique recipe for ratabagas.

Prep: 30 minutes | Cook: 40 minutes | Serves: 4


  • 3 rutabagas (approximately 1-1/2 lbs)
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers (approximately 2 whole – I used canned)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • parsley for garnish

The night before: soak cashews in water so they are completely submerged. Overnight they will become soft and plump.

Coarsely cut kale and sauté in a skillet over medium heat by adding 1 cup of vegetable broth instead of oil. Cook until vegetable broth has evaporated and kale is wilted, then set aside. Dice onions and sauté in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water until onions begin to soften and water is evaporated. Remove from heat. Drain water from cashews. Using a hand mixer, puree cashews, red pepper, and nutritional yeast together. Mix thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper (by hand) into dairy-free cheese sauce. Thinly slice rutabagas and sweet potatoes into 1/8 inch coins. You can do this using a knife or a mandolin slicer.

Now all ingredients are prepped. Lightly spray a 2.5 quart casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray and place prepped ingredients within reach. Imagine dividing dairy-free sauce into thirds. Place the first third onto the bottom of your casserole dish. Then build layers as follows: rutabagas, onions, sweet potatoes, kale. Add a second layer of cheese sauce, then again – rutabaga, onion, sweet potato, and the remainder of cheese sauce.

Bake casserole in a 350 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the casserole is fork-tender. Allow casserole to rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with minced parsley and serve.


3. Quinoa Pasta Mac and Cheese

This recipe from Vitacost was created by food blogger Amy Clevenger. They call this a “healthified” version of everyone’s favorite cold-weather splurge. Quinoa pasta, which is wheat free, takes the place of plain noodles. A combination of ghee, Greek yogurt, and low-fat cheese give you classic mac flavor and texture without all the fat.


  • 1 package quinoa pasta, elbow shape
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup cheese blend (cheddar, Swiss and American)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Follow package directions to cook quinoa pasta. In a food processor, combine almond milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and spices; blend until creamy. Stir in cheese blend. Pour cheese mixture over pasta and stir to combine. Stir in jalapenos. Top with additional cheese. Bake macaroni and cheese for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

kale soup 2

4. Energizing Spicy Bean & Kale Soup
Registered dietitian Nichole Dandrea, MS, RD shares this recipe that’s sure to ward off the cold.

Nutritional facts per cup:
calories: 230 | carbohydrate 44 g | protein 10 g | fat 2 g | sat fat 0 g | fiber 10 g
Serves 8-10

For the sauté pan:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • sea salt and pepper

For the stock pot:

  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 2 15 oz cans cannelloni beans, black beans (or other bean of choice), rinsed and drained (or 1.5 cups dried beans, soaked and cooked)
  • 2 15 oz cans or eco-friendly cartons of Italian style stewed tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
  • 5-6 organic russet potatoes, rinsed and chopped
  • 6 oz lacinato kale, center ribs removed, leaves chopped, about 4 firmly packed cups)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less or more depending on your taste)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • nutritional yeast (optional)

Start by sautéing the yellow onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add salt and pepper to the mixture. Sauté about 5-7 minutes on medium heat (do not over cook!). In a stock pot, heat the vegetable broth until boiling. Add the potatoes and stewed tomatoes. Cook about 7-10 minutes until potatoes are soft. Stir in the cannelloni beans, oregano, rosemary, cayenne, and sautéed vegetable mixture. Cook another 5 minutes. Stir kale into mixture until soft (just after a few minutes). Add a little more sea salt and pepper to taste. Dish into bowls and sprinkle with nutritional yeast for additional yumminess.


5. Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin
This recipe comes to us from Chef Chris Franz, executive chef at the Rattlesnake Club, a fine-dining restaurant on the banks of the Detroit River.


  • 1 lb fresh cauliflower flowerets, trimmed from 1 large cauliflower
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1-1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • olive oil for drizzling

Arrange flowerets in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam for 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Combine mayonnaise and next five ingredients (through the red pepper) and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss steamed cauliflower in mayonnaise mixture until well coated. Arrange flowerets in a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Spoon remaining mayonnaise mixture over flowerets to cover. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle top with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden.


Photo: VeselovaElena/iStock/Thinkstock

6. Squash-a-roni
This creative comfort food recipe comes from the kitchen of the Kripalu Center of Yoga & Health in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.

Serves 4-6


  • 3/4 pound elbow pasta (gluten-free or whole-wheat pasta recommended)
  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • pinch salt
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
  • stock water as needed
  • 1 cup chopped roasted nuts or seeds (optional)

Place peeled and cubed squash in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Add pinch of salt and simmer until soft. When soft, drain squash, setting aside the cooking water for later use. Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente and drain. Sauté onion in the olive oil until caramelized. Combine squash, sautéed onion, and all other ingredients (except the pasta) in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add stock water a little at a time, if needed, to create a smooth, thick sauce consistency. Toss pasta with sauce and place in a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. To garnish, try chopped roasted walnuts or almonds, or pepitas. Enjoy!

warm winter smoothie

7. Warm Smoothie
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Cindy Santa Ana says, “A lot of people tend to stick to their cold green smoothies in the winter, but I find that they leave me feeling cold. What we need is something warm and nourishing, so I came up with this warm smoothie that includes superfoods to keep you healthy in the winter months.” Cindy is the author of the book Unprocessed Living, which includes over 100 healthy recipes.

Prep time: 5 minutes | makes 1 serving


  • 1-1/2 cups coconut or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter (I like cashew butter)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw cacao (or cocoa powder)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey, or several drops of liquid Stevia
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, cardamom, sea salt

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and warm over low heat. You don’t want it to come to a bubble because high heat destroys the nutritional properties of the honey and cacao. Gently stir to combine everything. Then, pour into a blender and whip till frothy. Pour into a mug, sprinkle with cinnamon or extra chia seeds and enjoy on a cold day!

More Great Recipes
9 Tantalizing Cranberry Recipes You’ll Want To Make All Year Long
8 Creative Pumpkin Recipes
4 Secrets to Baking Awesome Gluten-Free Desserts


Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Have a good night

Peggy B.
Peggy B2 years ago

Pinned for future reference.

Peggy B.
Peggy B2 years ago


Peggy B.
Peggy B2 years ago

Looks yummy.

Tania N.
Tania N2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Twila H.
Twila H2 years ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

some sound good thanks

Brein Geiselman
Brein Geiselman2 years ago

Some of these look really good and might try on the family, I do have a lot of picky ones though.