Cooler weather certainly stirs the craving for warmer foods. And isn't it funny that warmer foods conjure up steaming mashed potatoes, cheesy macaroni, and not necessarily a bowl of steamed carrots? Well, if your cravings for comfort foods star the good old carbohydrate, here are some foods you that will satisfy your craving and still keep you comfortable in your clothes.
Mashed potatoes were a staple in my house growing up. Here's a recipe I devised so that I could still enjoy that creamy taste without overdoing the carbs. Cut one head of cauliflower into small chunks. Boil the cauliflower with one clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. Drain it in a colander, and put in a food processor. Blend with ½ cup light mayo or ½ cup 2% Greek Yogurt. Add pepper and serve. You can also blend the cauliflower with low fat milk, olive oil, or a mix of any of the above.
Comfort foods don't have to be full of refined carbohydrate and fat. Think about the warm flavors of baked beans, veggie chili, chicken noodle soup, or spaghetti and meat balls. Spaghetti and meat balls? Sure! Try whole wheat pasta, Trader Joe's frozen turkey meat balls, and a sugar free tomato sauce like Muir Glen's Organic Chunky Tomato Sauce. Recipe makeovers like this are easy to do. Hankering for Mom's chicken noodle soup? Combine a box of Imagine's Free Range Chicken Broth, some leftover chicken, a can of red beans for extra fiber, a package of frozen broccoli for added vitamins, and try out Shirataki noodles by House Foods. Shirataki means "tofu shaped noodles," and these noodles are low in calories, fat, and very low in carbohydrate as they are made from tofu. Perfect for wheat-free diets. Found in Whole Foods, a ½ cup is 3 grams of carbohydrate and only 20 calories. Wow, that's a comforting thought!
Here's a sampling of some other good food choices for the season. If you look up macaroni and cheese in the dictionary, I'm sure the definition is "comfort food." As we know, it's not necessarily the food, but the portion that turns a food into an "unhealthy" choice. Annie's Mac & Cheese in microwavable single serving pouches supports a healthy portion size and has only 40 calories of fat for each 240 calorie serving. Now, if you make Annie's Mac & Cheese in the box... you'll have to remember the box makes three servings. A box of Kraft Mac & Cheese also serves three, yet one serving runs 380 calories and 140 of those from fat. (Not to mention the added artificial colorings).
If a bowl of creamy, steamy soup is your comfort, there are many products on the market that are lower in fat and sodium than the average cream of mushroom in a can. Amy's Light in Sodium Soups are a treat. With organic varieties including cream of tomato, butternut squash, lentil vegetable, and split pea, they will warm you from head to toe. One serving of Amy's Light Cream of Tomato is only 100 calories and 340 mgs of sodium, with 2 grams of fat. For comparison sake, Campbell's Tomato Bisque packs a serving with 130 calories and 880 mgs of sodium, not to mention 3 grams of fat. Remember to read labels, pay attention to portion sizes, and to find comfort in places other than the refrigerator!