Tis the Season for Comfort Foods
Hilary McMahon, RDN, LDN, Capitol BlueCross | 11.30.16
As the last leaves fall and winter rolls in, many people enjoy staying indoors, making a fire, and eating warm comfort foods. Macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, creamy soups, homemade stuffing, cinnamon rolls, cookies, apple pie... the list goes on and on. While these dishes and treats may be satisfying, we often end up stuffed and feeling a little guilty for overeating. It doesn't have to be this way! You can eat your favorite comfort foods, but stay healthy and feel good at the same time. Here are some convenient tips to enjoy traditional comfort foods with a healthy twist.
1. Change the recipe, just slightly!
Does it call for a whole cup of heavy cream? Try using a half-cup of low-fat plain yogurt blended with a half-cup cottage cheese as a healthy substitute. For a recipe that calls for sugar, add one-third less. You won't even notice! Try some of these easy substitutes the next time you are cooking. But keep in mind that comfort foods provide "comfort" because they bring back warm, wonderful memories. If you change the recipe too much, you'll miss out on the "comfort." Try one substitution at a time until you find what works for you.
2. Add more fruits and vegetables.
Putting more ingredients into the dish helps to spread out the heavy ingredients. Add roasted veggies to your mac and cheese. The fat from butter, cheese, and milk will be balanced out by nutritious vegetables.
3. Try "healthy" comfort foods!
Make a hearty vegetable soup or a favorite grilled chicken recipe. Sometimes fruits and veggies can be comfort foods. Mine is blueberries. I eat them religiously, fresh or frozen. When I was a child, my mom bought cases of fresh blueberries in the summer and froze them so I could have my favorite snack all winter long!
4. Choose just one.
Sometimes showing up for a holiday meal at grandma's house means that several of your comfort foods will be there. Decide which one is most important to you, and choose lighter options for the rest of the meal.
5. Eat LESS!
Enjoying favorite winter foods brings about less guilt if you control the portion size. Savor each bite, giving yourself time to digest and enjoy the flavors. Spend time reliving the memories behind the food before grabbing another bite. Remember, the slower you eat, the less you're likely to consume.
Hilary is a registered dietitian for Capital BlueCross. As a Messiah College and Penn State program graduate, she loves exploring the world of food and continually learning about the ever-changing world of nutrition. At Capital Blue, Hilary offers one on one nutrition appointments to help individuals reach their lifestyle and wellness goals, She actively participates in creating a healthier community through wellness initiatives, both within the walls of the Capital Blue Retail Store in Enola, as well as out in the community.