Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Better For You Comfort Food

I am pretty sure that this super cold weather we have gotten has made more than just myself feel like a need for warmth. I call it snuggle weather, but thanks to my current single status that is not an One of the other things that comes to mind this time of year when I'm freezing is wanting comfort food. In the summer when it's hot and I'm sweating like a man I don't normally want something heavy, in fact that is the time of year that I love sandwiches, not sure why, but that is what seems like a summer food to me. In the winter though I tend to want something a little more hearty. Another thing I think about is how ridiculous my utility bill is going to be so I go ahead and stay a little bit more cool because really I can wear a hoodie and have a blankie when I'm sitting on the couch and that's not a problem. You know the poor kid strategy for survival lol.

Just the other day for example, I got home and my hands were freezing because I had forgotten my gloves, well I immediately thought that, that day would be a great soup day. So I go through my cabinets and look around and I didn't have any soup, but I did have some Ramen noodles that my mom left when she was staying with me after my surgery. I got a packet out and struggled with wanting to eat it. The packet is still sitting on my counter because I opted for a grapefruit instead of my sodium packed noodles. But the point is I really wanted something to make me feel warm and the problem with that is that normally these kinds of foods are packed with bad for you stuff. So seeing that this was a problem for me I thought that it might be a problem for others out there so I decided to do some research.

In this I came across a Web site that gave five different options for some of our favorite winter dishes, but in a more healthy way to have them. The article is entitled "5 Winter Dishes Lightened Up" (good title huh!) and it is written by Laurie Saloman and reviewed by Quality Health's Medical Advisory Board. I will fill you in on the secrets of the page.

Eggplant Parmesan- As I've said before I have a weakness for Italian food. The problem with this dish is while yes it is more healthy in the sense that you are having a veggie than overloading on protein you are pulling in some other bad things. Most of the time when you order this at a restaurant it is breaded and fried and doused in fatty cheese and sauce so Saloman writes the following;

"A better solution: Grilled eggplant. Salt eggplant rounds, lightly spray each side with cooking spray, and grill until they're brown and soft on both sides. Layer them with tomato sauce and low-fat mozzarella and bake until bubbling. Add wilted spinach leaves or roasted pepper slices for extra flavor."

Meatloaf- Everyone has there own way of making meatloaf and sometimes it can be better for you than others. I myself am a huge fan of my BFF Eric's, but it probably isn't the best thing in the world for me, but I'm in love with it regardless.

The slimming secret offered in the article is to substitute "lean ground chicken or turkey" instead of the fatty beef that we normally use in meatloaf. Saloman suggests cooking, "diced peppers and onions mixed in with the meat" to provide a little kick and some more flavor. She says that it is even OK to top it with fat-free cheese mixed in with some Salsa to give it a little for of that extra something.

Chicken pot pie- I forget about chicken pot pie most of the time, but whenever I have one I remember that I really do like it. It's just one of those things like Ramen noodles that I have pretty much told myself that I just can't have. Here is a way that you can according to Saloman's article;

"Skip the butter, flour and heavy cream that traditionally give this dish its thickness. Instead, substitute a can of reduced-fat cream of celery soup. Simply mix the soup, frozen vegetables of your choice, and cooked chicken pieces together and put into a pie tin. Top the pie with reduced-fat refrigerated crescent-roll dough and bake for a satisfying winter night's dinner."

French Fries- As Americans we are all so very use to having fries as a side with everything that we eat. Heck they come with every combo meal that is out there. Fries have become the default food and the sad thing about it is that they are so freaking bad for you. If you still want to be able to eat fries and not feel as guilty about it you should definitely read this tip.

"There's no rule that says French fries have to be friend to be good. Slice up some potatoes, lightly salt them, place them on a baking sheet and spray them with cooking oil. The bake them at 450 degrees, turning once, until they're crispy all over. Want a nutritional boost? Substitute butternut squash slices for white potatoes."

I for one can tell you that the squash option is amazing. I actually prefer it to the potato.

New England clam chowder- This is where we get back to what I said about soup earlier. One thing we can't help but think about during chilly weather is soup so it only made sense to me that at some point during this article it would be mentioned. It may be the last on the list, but that doesn't make it any less important of an option than the rest.

"A bowl of this creamy, briny soup packs in boatloads of calories, so lighten it up. Adding extra vegetables and clams gives the soup body, while cutting the heavy cream to half a cup and using reduced -fat milk instead of whole milk slashes fat. Enjoy with whole-grain crackers or bread, " said Saloman.

I hope that some of these things help you and I hope you enjoy them. If you try any out or have any other suggestions for healthier options I would love to try them and even post them in another post later on. Let me know what you got.


  1. I really enjoyed these lighter options of comfort food. I always think of these foods when the temperatures drop outside. I have not tried the squash substitute for french fries, but it does sound worth a try. I have, however, substituted the white potato for sweet potato. This is really good and so much healthier. I have also tried using ground chicken or turkey in meatloaf. It is not bad if you use healthy ways to spice things up a bit. The ground chicken or turkey has a milder flavor than beef, but this can be fixed by just adding some spice and flavor without adding calories. Salsa really helps.

  2. Yeah I thought it was a great article! You know what spice I just won't add to anything though don't you! I don't care how bland something is. I would rather it be bland than taste like onions because I HATE them!