Low-Cal, High-Flavor Comfort Foods for Bikini Season

Who says healthy foods can't be comfort foods? Well, a lot of people actually (including a few members of the EDF team!). But here's the thing: one of the reasons why we love some of our favorite comfort foods is because they're soul-warming and packed with nostalgic memories. And, sure, many of these dishes happen to be rich and gooey plates of cheesy heaven -- but some of them aren't. We're not saying that you should do away with your most cherished, gut-busting meals. We merely think that you might find that same cozy, food-blanketing feeling from a few plates that happen to have health benefits. And for the non-believers, we dare you to try the Lightened Rice Pudding and call it anything other than delectable.

Wasn't everything easier when Mom made breakfast? Now that you're doing the cooking, try this tasty muffin (it might make you miss being a kid).

Peanut-Butter Apple Muffin

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter, preferably natural
2 whole-wheat English muffins, split and toasted
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
1 apple, halved, cored, and thinly sliced

1. Dividing evenly, spread peanut butter on muffin halves. Sprinkle with wheat germ; then top with apple slices. Serve open-faced.

Healthy pizza can be boring -- but it shouldn't be! In this recipe, broiled whole-wheat pitas serve as a crispy crust, while part-skim ricotta adds the necessary creaminess. If you happen to have some extra vegetables laying around, toss 'em on top.

Mini Spinach-and-Cheese Pizzas

4 mini whole-wheat pitas (3 inches each), split
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, pushed through a garlic press
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 pint bocconcini (about 20 balls), halved

1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil; arrange pita halves on sheet, cut side up.

2. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, oregano, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Dividing evenly, spread ricotta mixture on pitas, and top with spinach and bocconcini. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Broil until cheese is melted and starts to brown, 4 to 6 minutes, rotating sheet from front to back halfway through baking. Serve immediately.

Related: Easy, Every Day Meatless Recipes

Oh, pudding. Love the skin, hate the skin -- either way, we'd never say no to a bowl (or snack pack) of it. This Lightened Rice Pudding tastes decadent but is actually pretty healthy. A bonus: we're sure you won't notice that we've replaced whole milk with skim.

Lightened Rice Pudding

1 cup long-grain white rice
6 cups skim milk
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup golden raisins, plus more for garnish

1. In a large saucepan, combine rice and 5 cups milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 15 to 17 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla, cardamom, and remaining cup milk. Slowly pour egg mixture into rice mixture; cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until pudding coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat; stir in raisins. Pour pudding into a 6-quart casserole dish or large bowl; let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days). Serve pudding garnished with more raisins and cardamom.

Related: Hands Down, The 20 Grilling Recipes You Must Try This Summer

Have you ever really watched the yolk drip out from your poached egg? And allowed its yellow deliciousness to spill about and as you fitfully attempt to mop it up with a crusty hunk of bread before licking your fingers in delight? If the answer is yes, you know how magical (dare we say, incredible?) this protein-packed food can be. For a truly winning meal, we've thrown in polenta, bacon, and veggies. We know, bacon is not exactly on the list of "good for you" foods -- but its smokiness really transforms this breakfast. Healthy crusaders needn't worry, the dish is just as strong sans pig.

Polenta-Veggie Stacks

8 slices bacon
1/2 package prepared polenta
4 chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups baby spinach
8 eggs
Salt and pepper

1. Cook bacon until crisp in a nonstick skillet. Slice polenta into 8 rounds. In 2 teaspoons bacon fat, cook polenta until crisp. Saute tomatoes until collapsed, then add spinach and wilt. Poach eggs. Top polenta with bacon, tomato mixture, and eggs; season with salt and pepper.

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