When the weather is colder, you may find yourself craving comfort foods. Like a warm blanket or a good movie, comfort foods make us feel better.
Though typical comfort foods (like macaroni and cheese or meatloaf and mashed potatoes) may conjure up great memories that are separate from your dieting life, comfort foods like these can be modified to still fit into your healthier lifestyle.
Here are four tips to guide you:
1. Try veggie or bean soups. A tasty and hearty vegetable or bean soup can be quite comforting when the weather turns cold. You can use a quick and convenient bean soup mix in a bag or box, or make your own healthy recipe. Whether it's a lentil soup, three bean soup, Italian bean and pasta soup or even the recipe that comes on the bag of red lentils, this may be the perfect recipe to keep yourself feeling cozy and satisfied.
2. Healthier mashing! Mashed potatoes don't have to be a recipe for a high calorie diet disaster. Instead of adding cream, butter or sour cream, turn to fat-free chicken broth instead. Roasted garlic is another way to give a big flavor boost to your potatoes without adding much in the way of calories. Another idea is to try mashed sweet potatoes, which are higher in fiber, or mashing cauliflower.
3. Tweaking casseroles and loafs. Instead of the traditional beefy meat loaf, try a lower-fat turkey meat loaf stuffed with chopped spinach and veggies instead. Whenever you can add more vegetables to your casserole or pasta dishes, the better off you'll be in terms of calorie damage. Substitute slices of roasted eggplant for lasagna noodles to make eggplant Parmesan that's lower in calories but just as high in flavor.
4. Eat like a kid again. Think back to the comfort foods you ate as a child - meals like canned tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. The soup was served in a small bowl and the sandwich was small, not one of those gigantic deli type sandwiches. Canned soup and homemade grilled cheese can be a yummy way to enjoy comfort foods and still stay on your healthy lifestyle program. Even macaroni and cheese can still be found in a calorie and portion controlled Lean Cuisine dinner that can be "whipped up" in minutes.
With these four tips, you can enjoy those comfort foods and stay satisfied during the cold weeks ahead!