When it’s cold outside, people may gravitate to comfort foods that can help them warm up and forget they haven’t seen sunlight in two months. Casseroles, steak and potatoes, and fettuccine Alfredo might do the trick, but they can also have a steep caloric trade-off.
Rather than whipping up some funeral potatoes for the hungry masses at dinner, try some healthier options this winter. Here are some healthy winter comfort foods you can try to stave off the winter blues:
Pie for dinner
Everybody loves pie, and pie for dinner is even better. Put some comfort into your meal with a hearty and healthy dinner pie. A couple of classics that are sure to please are shepherd’s pie and pot pie. Keep them healthy by adding a good variety of vegetables. Leave the butter and cheese out of the shepherd’s pie and enjoy the fiber, potassium and low calories in the potato topping. Use lean chicken breast in the pot pie for a high-protein, low-fat option.
When you think of comforting winter soups, your mind may drift to creamy potato soup with bacon and cheese on top. While this isn’t the healthiest way to go, soup is a fantastic winter comfort food that can also be nutritious. Soup can stop your stomach from growling while also staying low on calories if you focus on adding the right ingredients. Beans, root vegetables and lean meats in a low-calorie soup base will help warm and fill your belly at the same time.
“A soup made with broth is an excellent way to curb cravings while adding important nutrients to your meal,” says nutritionist Emily Woll. “If you want a nutritious, low-calorie meal, add lots of vegetables to chicken, beef, or vegetable stock and avoid heavier cream soups.”
Winter squash is high in fiber and vitamins A and C, but it won’t add inches to your waistline. These versatile gourds can be used in soups, casseroles and on their own. Bake them and their seeds in the oven for a healthy side dish, or scoop out the seeds and add meat and other fillings to make a complete meal.
Grabbing a grapefruit may not be the winter comfort food you are looking for, but it is actually the perfect thing to eat when the temperatures drop. Citrus is one of the best fruit sources of vitamin C, which can help keep your immune system strong in the winter. They also help support heart health. It’s no coincidence that you’ll find abundant citrus fruits at the grocery store in the winter. Not only are they healthy, but citrus fruits are also usually harvested in the fall and winter.
You may not realize winter is the perfect time to stock up on salmon. Salmon is a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient your body may be lacking during the winter. Many people may avoid the outdoors when it is cold outside, and their body’s stores of vitamin D can suffer as a result. Do your bones a favor and serve up a little extra salmon this winter to make up the difference.
Winter doldrums might make you want to throw nutrition to the wind and take solace in high-calorie goodies. The good news is you don’t have to trade comfort in for tasteless health food. Try out these healthy options and let your taste buds dance until spring.