As the temperature cools down, it’s only natural that you start to crave the warmth of fluffy layers of clothing, steaming hot baths, and hearty, delicious winter recipes. There’s nothing better to beat the chill than a big, fulfilling, piping hot meal.
However, it seems that so many “comfort” dishes are packed with heavy, diet-crushing ingredients like cream, butter, “bad” carbs (like pastry and white pasta), and sugar.
But your favorite winter recipes needn’t be banished from your home. Even the most traditional, comforting winter recipes needs a little revamp sometimes!
Here are five healthy twists that you can apply to some of your favorite hearty, winter recipes– ensuring you can have your (beef) pie and eat it too.
Meat pies are traditionally covered on all sides by buttery pastry. But you can make this winter recipe lower in calories and fat by:
- Making your pie using lean beef steak (or lean ground turkey) and plenty of vegetables.
- Placing in your usual pie dish with no pastry base. Once you’re ready to bake, add one sheet of low-fat puff pastry on the top of the pie only. Your complete pie will just have a single floating pastry top.
A creamy, dreamy Russian dish that we’ve all grown to love, beef stroganoff is all about beef, butter-fried mushrooms, and egg noodles drenched in sour cream. With such a rich dish, how can you make it weight-loss friendly without losing the heartiness?
- To make a healthier version, start with some extra-lean beef sirloin.
- Then you’ll be using extra virgin olive oil in place of butter for cooking up the onions, mushrooms, and beef.
- To make this dish meat heavy, not the usual pasta heavy, use around 1 ½ lb of lean beef to 3 oz of whole wheat egg noodles (for 6 people).
- Next, substitute the sour cream with low-fat (and low-sugar!) natural Greek yogurt. If you’ve never tried this switch, it’s truly uncanny how much Greek yogurt tastes like sour cream. Per 100 grams, Greek yogurt has around one-third of the calories of a reduced-fat sour cream.1,2
- When you serve up your stroganoff, think of your pasta as being on a bed of meat, instead of the (usual) reverse.
Oh, lasagna! How you improve the chilly months! But all those heavy noodles… well, they can really bring you down.
Lighten up your lasagna with this favorite of the gluten-intolerant, that you can also make in your crockpot.
- Substitute ¼-inch slices of eggplant (or zucchini) in place of lasagna noodles.
- Pre-grill or broil these slices before piecing the lasagna together. This trick ensures that any excess water is dispelled from the veggies. Otherwise, your lasagna will get a little soupy.
- Cook in your slow cooker on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for 4-6 hours. Your eggplant noodles should be tender.
*With almost ½ of the calories of ricotta cheese, you can effectively substitute cottage cheese to fill those lasagna layers.3,4
Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese seems to have the ability to fix any situation, and the cheesier, the better. But keep in mind: that delicious bowl of cheesy goodness just cost you close to 700 calories. Macaroni and cheese is traditionally brimming with heavy cream, white pasta, and inconceivable amounts of cheese. Is there any way to make it healthier if you’re watching your weight?
Time to bring that old chameleon – cauliflower – into play.
- Instead of pasta, cook 4 cups of chopped cauliflower in boiling water until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
- Drain and pat between paper towels to dry properly.
- Pour cauliflower into a baking dish.
- Heat ¼ cup of water in a pan and add ½ cup of mozzarella and ½ cup of cheddar cheese. Stir until melted.
- Whisk in 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, a teaspoon of mustard, and a pinch of black pepper until smooth.
- Combine with cauliflower and mix well.
- Bake until browned and bubbly (around 15 minutes).
- Sprinkle with freshly cut chives.
Chili can actually be quite healthy for you when it’s stripped down bare, but there are a few trappings you’ve likely fallen into – like creamy, cheesy toppings with a side of cornbread.
If you make your chili with nice lean meat, like extra lean ground turkey, and add plenty of nutritious veggies, then chili can a nutritious, low-calorie meal.
Here’s how to change things up:
- If you love a big dollop of sour cream on top of your chili (and who doesn’t?), pick up a tub of your new friend, low-fat Greek yogurt, instead. It’s the perfect, indistinguishable substitute.
- Next, slice up an avocado, and toss it on top for an extra dose of nutrients and healthy omega fats.
- Finish with some sliced green onions.
- As for that cornbread: You don’t need it. Save the calories for a (low-calorie) dessert treat instead.
Winter recipes love winter vegetables! Butternut squash or sweet potatoes go great in a steaming bowl of chili…and they’ll also help to fill you up!
Warming Up With Winter Recipes
If you’re following a weight loss plan, don’t ever feel like you need to completely miss out on your favorite foods. There is generally always a way to make a healthier version! Even when it comes to your favorite winter recipes.
Now, all you need is to find someone with a fireplace, so you can cozy up with a good book and your new comfort foods.
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