Winter Comfort Foods Healthified

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You’ve trudged through a long day at work, pushed through a rush hour commute, and even managed one more burst of energy for your workout. Now you’re home, cozy, and frozen rain is pattering against the window. Is it time to feast on a kale salad?

Winter – or “Starch Madness,” as we sometimes call it – isn’t known for its light, healthy fare. But with a little tweaking, your favorite cold-weather comfort foods can be waistline-friendly. Try ratcheting up your next meal’s health quotient with these pointers:

Cauliflower: No small potatoes
A trendy substitute for potatoes, cauliflower struts its stuff – only 25 calories per cup, compared to the lumbering russet potato’s 290. It’s got the russet potato beat in the sodium and carb categories, too. Try swapping creamy cauliflower for potatoes in Shepherd’s Pie or good ol’ mashed potatoes, and you may never look back.

Ditch the dairy
If there’s one key aspect to comfort foods, it’s creaminess. But creaminess equals dairy, which equals calories and fat, right? Not necessarily. Substituting coconut milk for its dairy counterparts can save you carbs and calories (like in this creamy sweet potato casserole). Almond milk is another great option for even lower fat.

Try gluten-free
A lot of people find that refined wheat doesn’t work for them. You can dodge gluten, lower the carbs, and kick up the fiber with awesome nut and grain flours, like coconut flour, almond flour, and brown rice flour. Try this cherry crisp or this gluten-free chicken pot pie. Did you notice the missing wheat, or were you too busy ravenously feasting?

Hijack the mac
Macaroni and cheese. It’s a year-round favorite of human beings everywhere, and it may have been invented by a six-year-old genius. Still, health-conscious adults can nail that ooey-gooey cheesy taste with just a few tweaks. Use fiber-rich quinoa instead of pasta, skim milk or a non-dairy milk of your choice, and consider tossing in some spinach for extra vitamins and minerals.

Have fun, and don’t forget to talk to a doctor or dietitian before you make any big changes!

Image: Cauliflower Au Gratin with Tofu Gorgonzola, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Vegan Feast Catering’s photostream.

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