6 Comforting (and Healthy) Reasons to Turn the Oven Back On

Now that the weather is cooling down, kick your oven into high gear for healthy, comforting recipe favorites.
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Food Stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

During the summer, your oven likely worked as more of a storage space than the kitchen appliance it really is. Why would you have turned it on when the temperature was so blistering hot? Nowadays, however, things are starting to cool down, so it's not crazy talk to consider preheating the oven. If you need that extra push, feast your eyes on healthy, comforting recipes that give you good reason to turn your oven back on.

Comfort food is always on the mind this time of year, and that's true even if you're eating healthy. Heat up your oven to make one of the heartiest casserole dishes of all:  Chicken Pot Pie (pictured above). This better-for-you version comes with a buttery pie crust topping that's flaky yet low in calories, plus a chicken-and-veggie filling made creamy with low-fat milk and Greek yogurt.

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20090609_Food_Network_0063.tif

Food stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Alistair Turnbull

When you're in need of some serious comfort, macaroni and cheese is probably one of the first dishes to come to mind. Go even further by piling this cheesy favorite into a casserole dish and then baking it to give  Three-Cheese Macaroni that golden, crispy top you'll want to enjoy all season long (and you can, because this recipe is surprisingly good for you).

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FNK_SHEPHERDS_PIE_H.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

As the weather grows colder and colder, you better bet meat and potatoes are in order. Use your oven to make a healthy version of the stick-to-your-ribs staple  Shepherd's Pie. This recipe calls for lean ground beef and low-carb cauliflower mash; it achieves the same heartiness as the original, from the meaty filling to the oven-browned topping, without going overboard.

Ellie Krieger's Tuna Casserole as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eating healthy doesn't mean you can't enjoy the notoriously creamy, breadcrumb-topped favorite  Tuna Casserole. Baked in the oven with a creamy tuna base, whole-wheat noodles and a whole-wheat breadcrumb topping, it's a retro diner-style favorite that will disappear as soon as it leaves your oven.

oven-fried-chicken-recipe

oven-fried-chicken-recipe

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012,Cooking Channel,LLC

Marshall Troy, 2012,Cooking Channel,LLC

The secret to a chicken dinner with that addictive "fried chicken" taste lies in — you guessed it! — your oven. Now that the oven's secret powers are at your disposal, you can make a better-for-you version of fried chicken in your very own kitchen. Fix Ellie Krieger's  Oven-Fried Chicken. which has a crunchy coating of crushed crackers and corn cereal crumbs that bakes together in the oven with a little olive oil spray for crispy, delicious results.

Ellie Krieger's Rustic Apple Pie with Dried Cherries As seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The days of sating you sweet tooth by chasing the ice cream truck are over. Make cold-weather creations, like this freeform  Rustic Apple and Dried Cherry Pie, in your oven using fall fruit and a whole-wheat crust.

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