Training for a Spartan can obviously take months of prep, targeting your strength to nail obstacles and endurance to crush the course. And between all those workouts, there’s nothing like a soothing meal that makes you feel energized and satisfied. While comfort food, like pancakes and soups and casseroles, might become your go-to for fulfilling, they can also contain lots of sugar, sodium, and saturated fat—ingredients you don’t necessarily want to overdo when you’re aiming to get stronger and faster. Enter these better-for-you, nutrient-packed dishes that’ll give you comfort and fuel, too.
Packed with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, these meals offer the energy you need to perform. In general, Angela Lemond, RDN, Texas-based dietitian and co-founder of Lemond Nutrition suggests focusing on what you can add to comfort foods for more nutrition, rather than what you should take away. “Try to swap out half the regular flour for whole wheat, which has more fiber and vitamins and add fruit to things like pancakes,” she says.
5 Healthier Comfort Foods: Delish Takes on Classic Dishes
Here are five Spartan-worthy meals that do the healthy work for you:
1. Biscuits and Gravy
- Almond Flour
- Turkey Sausage
You get a whopping 40 grams of protein in this meal, for just under 500 calories. While the muscle-building macronutrient helps your body get ready for a tough race, the fat from turkey sausage will keep you satisfied and full for hours.
2. Island Pork Tenderloin
You get plenty of vitamins and minerals from the list of produce in this dish, from vitamin C in mango and the antioxidants in tomatoes to the fiber in plantains and cabbage. Not only will this dish help you fight off illness and free radicals, you also get a healthy dose of protein with little fat.
3. Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
- Egg Whole
- Almond Flour
In each bite of these pancakes, you’ll taste a touch of sweetness from the honey, orange, and cinnamon — a top spice for providing wellness-boosting antioxidants. Fuel your race with 70 grams of carbs and 6 grams of protein at just 340 calories.
4. Chicken Jambalaya
- Chicken Breast
- Spaghetti Squash
- Chicken Sausage
Nothing quite says comfort food like a big, warm bowl of jambalaya! And this one gives you a spoonful of vitamins A, K, and C, thanks to kale, as well as filling fiber from the spaghetti squash.
5. Turkey Chili
- Ground Turkey
- Brown Rice
A hearty chili featuring nutrient-packed peppers and onions, you get the stand-out flavor of an indulgent meal for less than 350 calories and 26 grams of protein. While it will definitely leave you feeling full, it won’t weigh you down for your next workout.