It’s tempting to seek warmth and comfort from our food in the winter. “Comfort foods” fill you up and taste like home, so they seem bound to be unhealthy, right?
If the chill in the air makes you want good old-fashioned “stick to your ribs” meals, no need to deprive yourself. A few tweaks are all it takes to make these dishes over.
Some of the favorites you crave in cold weather might not typically be the best choices, but now you can give comfort foods a second look with these healthy versions.
You’ve heard about the starch and the carbs, but remember, potatoes bring vitamin and mineral content with them, too! If you’re craving mashed potatoes, try smashing them by hand with the skins on for extra fiber and texture, which can help you fill you up and control your portion.
You can forgo the butter and give that rich flavor to your mashed potatoes using extra virgin olive oil instead. It’s especially tasty in mashed sweet potatoes, which give you a boost of the cancer-fighting antioxidant beta-carotene. Looking for a way to forgo the gravy (or worse, marshmallows)? Try adding a dab of chipotle pepper with spicy adobo sauce.
Most meatloaf recipes will make for a fine base to a filling main course that is high in protein, iron and B vitamins. If your serving isn’t swimming in rich gravies or coated in cheese, you’re already on a slimming path with this entrée. A pile of seasoned mushrooms sautéed quickly in a pan and dumped over your portion is a great way to add zinc and fiber to your plate.
If you’re cutting back on red meat, you can make your meatloaf with ground turkey, too. Look for a recipe you can cook in the slow cooker to help keep it moist. Or consider making mini loafs in a muffin tin, to help control your serving size and make convenient leftovers for lunch later in the week.
If you’re eating lean and clean, there are certain soups you might want to avoid – namely those that come in a can, or are loaded with bacon, cheese and croutons. The good news is it’s pretty easy to make a healthy soup in a hurry. Look for recipes that utilize the convenience of organic or low-sodium stock in a box, and don’t forget the vegetables (the more, the better!).
Since most of us have fond memories of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold day, we’ve created a simple recipe for creamy tomato bisque you can make this week on your own. Tastes even better than back in the day, and brings added nutrition from the garlic with disease-fighting phytonutrients, and the cooked tomatoes which offer lutein to promote eye health.
Quick Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
- ½ of a small yellow onion, minced
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 28 oz. can of San Marzano whole tomatoes (organic brand is yummy)
- ½ cup of half and half
- 5 – 7 large fresh basil leaves, torn
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil in a medium pot for two minutes until fragrant.
- Add the stock and oregano and bring to a low boil.
- Squeeze the tomatoes by hand into the pot to crush them. Add the juice from the can and cook down for at least 10 minutes.
- Add the half and half and basil, and season to taste. Let simmer for a few more minutes to infuse herb flavor.