Cold-Weather Comfort Foods Made Healthier!

Check this out from our chief nutritionist Samantha Mark, RD, CDN:

With temperatures dropping, we’re all looking for our favorite comfort foods to get us through winter! Nothing warms up the soul like your favorite dishes–like a hearty stew or momma’s favorite meatloaf. Unfortunately, some of our favorite cold-weather classics may interfere with  your healthy meal plan.

Don’t fret: there are many ways to incorporate your winter favorites without sacrificing your  diet.

Let’s start with meat dishes.

Whether it’s the stew or meatloaf, there is always a place for them.  If you are choosing a cut of meat, go lean!  Use any of the following cuts: shoulder, bottom round or top sirloin (trim off any visible fat). Bulk up your stews with veggies and if you add potatoes, keep the skin on!

If you are preparing a meatloaf pick the leanest meat available. Anything greater than 90% lean will be a good place to start (I use 93% lean, it’s just as tasty).

Now, you didn’t think I’d skip vegetables, did you? While  they’re are enjoyable any time of year, one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is in a hot soup. They’re are incredibly versatile and you can add ANY of your favorites. Some good ones to consider are squash, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. Be bold and add also some of your favorite beans to give your soup more texture. A chunky vegetable soup will not only be tasty but incredibly filling.

Sandwiches aren’t just for brown bag lunches. A Panini is a great way to warm up your sandwich and keep all of the flavor inside. Start with 100% whole wheat bread and choose your favorite lean protein–such as deli chicken or turkey (many of which are available in lower-sodium varieties), lean ham and grilled chicken.

If you’re adding cheese, make sure it is a low-fat. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, onions etc. and add a light condiment (ketchup, mustard, reduced fat mayo or salad dressing). Place your sandwich in the Panini maker and cook until the inside is warm and melted. No Panini maker? No worries! Wrap your sandwich in tinfoil and place it on a hot skillet. Place a heavy item (even a brick works) on top of your sandwich to apply pressure.

Finally, another classic cold weather treat: hot chocolate. You do not have to give this up! The first move is to substitute 1% or fat-free milk for whole milk. This will instantly save you excess fat and calories.

Now, regarding the chocolate, go dark! It contains antioxidants and has a rich flavor (when choosing a dark chocolate powder, aim for at least 70% dark chocolate cocoa). You may find you would like to add a little sugar; don’t exceed one to two teaspoons (one is usually plenty). Pass on the whipped cream and savor the delicious flavor of that dark chocolate!

So don’t let the cold weather hinder your fabulous nutrition choices. Go lean, incorporate healthy ingredients, get creative with your meals and snacks  and outsmart the thermometer!

Until next time,

Sammi (@flwsammi)

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