Healthy and nutritious comfort food

Gabriela shares her nutritional advice on how to make healthier choices.

Gabriela shares her nutritional advice on how to make healthier choices.

Healthy and nutritious comfort food
Healthy and nutritious comfort food

You can reduce the calories in Macaroni Cheese too by making a homemade cheese sauce made from Greek yogurt rather than cream, and try adding in some vegetables.

When the temperature drops, it’s easy to turn to foods that will help give warmth and comfort. Winter has less of an abundance of the fresh soft fruits and salad vegetables of the summer months. Many of the season’s foods are typically higher in carbohydrates, calories and fat. But just because the days are shorter and it’s a bit cooler, don’t give up your healthy eating intentions.

Instead, give some of your favourite comfort foods a makeover or try a healthier version:

  • Macaroni Cheese: Turn this high fat, high carbohydrate, warm and cheesy dish into something more nutritious. Replace regular refined white pasta with a whole wheat or spelt option instead. This will give the dish extra fibre content, which will also make you feel fuller for longer so you don’t overindulge in seconds (or thirds).  You can reduce the calories in this dish too by making a homemade cheese sauce made from Greek yogurt rather than cream, and try adding in some vegetables.
  • Chicken Pie: What’s dinner on a cold day without a pie? Warm, creamy chicken filling in a delicious pastry! Although this particular dish can be full of veggies (peas, carrots, celery, sweetcorn etc), the added fat from the white sauce and buttery pastry crust can give this dish a caloric boost. Substitute the traditional high fat puff pastry crust with a light filo pastry or sweet potato mash. Cut back on the butter used in the white sauce and stock it up with vegetables.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Get adventurous with your mashed potatoes and try mashed cauliflower instead—it’s mashed potatoes ‘good’ twin. Cauliflower has recently been touted as the new versatile superfood, loaded with antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. Mashed cauliflower can be added to any recipe that calls for mashed potatoes—give it a try in a shepherd’s pie recipe.

Women can experience cravings for certain foods linked to their monthly cycle. Often it’s for high carbohydrate sugary snacks, or they notice their appetite has increased.

Here are a few foods that feed our emotional wellbeing, as well as nourish our body during the time of the month:

  • Chocolate Brownies: Try a flourless, low fat alternative made with black beans instead of flour. Using this alternative will allow the brownie to become fudgy in texture and will give them some extra fibre. Don’t worry, the black beans do not alter the taste; they enhance the flavour and texture of this healthier alternative.
  • Other baked goods: Muffins, rolls, and breads are easy to spruce up with the addition of vegetables like carrots and courgettes, fruits like apples and dates, and nuts like walnuts and pecans. Add extra fibre too, by using whole grain flours and adding bran or ground flaxseed. To cut fat and calories, substitute some or all of the oil/butter for apple sauce in your baking or cut the amount of sugar by 1/3.
  • Soups and stews: Chicken noodle soup is at the top of the list, but try to make your own for maximum nutrition. Start with a quality, no-salt or low-salt stock/broth. Make sure any meat or poultry is lean, and load it up with vegetables - celery, onions, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and squash are just some of the veggies that partner well with soups and stews plus cooked vegetables are much easier to digest. Include beans for added fiber and protein. For creamed soups, use low-fat versions of cheese and dairy products.

This article reflects the opinion of Gabriela Peacock and is intended as general advice only.  You should seek advice from a professional before altering your diet, changing your exercise regime or starting any new course of conduct.

Gabriela PeacockNutritional Therapist