Healthy Winter Comfort Foods
BY CARLYE WAXMAN RD, CDN (sweetnutritionnyc.com) | Emotional eating is a nasty byproduct of the long winter and its brutal weather. Did you ever get so depressed that the only thing keeping your mind off your real problem is a carton of ice cream? How about being so cold in your apartment at night that instead of a tiny piece of chocolate as an end-of-meal treat, you end up digging into that warm apple pie you picked up on your way home to hibernate? You’re not alone.
It’s important to know if your body is really hungry or if it’s all in your head. One of the best ways to avoid the sweet comfort of empty calories is to recognize the craving for what it is — and then eat something real and warm.
Cold food like yogurt parfaits, sandwiches and salads just don’t cut it during winter’s freezing temperatures. But how do you avoid temptation and stay slim?
Some comfort foods aren’t as bad as you think.
Instead of fried chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken: 1/4 of the chicken contains 320 calories and 42g of protein — or you can have the chicken without skin and save yourself another 100 calories! Creamed spinach sides can run you around 260 calories, which isn’t terrible. If you are trying to keep your calories low, buy Bird’s Eye frozen creamed spinach (8oz are only 180 calories and 6g of protein). Mashed potatoes aren’t terrible either. If you buy a side from KFC, its 90 calories. If you buy a much larger size (like a restaurant portion), it will run you about 250 calories.
Macaroni and cheese can be pretty caloric, especially when you’re ordering it as your meal instead of a side. Skip the meal portion and ask for low-fat or light cheese. Add vegetables if possible. Don’t want to spend the money eating out? Keep Kraft mac and cheese at home. Though it may not be as natural as making it from scratch, one serving is only 230 calories and 7g of protein. Complete this with a large salad or a big bowl of steamed vegetables.
Avoid fries (sweet potato fries doesn’t make it healthier), lo mein, corn bread, creamy soups, pot roast, grilled cheese and spaghetti and meatballs. These foods are hard to make healthy if you are ordering them out. If you want to attempt making them, find a healthy recipe online.
Try the following recipes for some comfort foods that will keep you slim these last days of winter. Find more at my website: sweetnutritionnyc.com.
MANHATTAN CLAM CHOWDER
Nutrition Facts: Calories 240, Protein 18g, Carbs 28g
1 tablespoon oil
1 garlic clove
1 onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
5 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
2 6 ½oz cans of chopped clams in clam juice
½ cup or more of water
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
In a large pot, add oil and garlic on medium high heat for about 1 minute. Add celery, onions and potatoes. Cook on high 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender (stir frequently). Drain the clams, reserving liquid and adding water if needed, to measure 2-2 1/2 cups. Add clam liquid and tomatoes with their liquid, salt and pepper to the casserole. Cook, covered, on high 18 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender, stirring once. Add reserved clams. Cook, covered, on high 2 to 3 minutes until clams are heated through. Add parsley at the end and stir.
Cauliflower: Calories 150, Protien 2g, Carbs 18g
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (wash and dry well)
1 cup flour
1 cup skim milk
1 cup buffalo sauce (pick lowest calorie one, I happen to like Archie Moore’s)
1 teaspoon oil
garlic, salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the cauliflower into the bowl and toss well. Spread out the cauliflower on a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes. Take out the dish, combine the sauce and oil together and pour it over the cauliflower. Place it back in oven about 10 minutes. Serve with celery.
SIMPLY AUTHENTIC LO MEIN
Nutrition Facts: Calories 177, Protein 6g, Carbs 30g
2 bundles whole wheat Lo mein noodles (or ½ box of thin spaghetti)
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups shredded zucchini and squash (try buying this pre-prepared at Whole Foods)
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 small bag of shredded carrots
5 scallions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 2-inch ginger cube, chopped fine
Sauce ingredients (combine first)
½ cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Cook lo-mein noodles according to package. In a wok or large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high until hot. Add all veggies (not scallion), ginger and garlic. In about 7-10 minutes (when the veggies are wilted), add the scallion, cooked noodles (drained) and the sauce ingredients. Mix well with tongs and cook on simmer for another 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken once the noodles get incorporated.