Think about your favorite winter comfort foods: they probably include crave-worthy dishes like cheesy meat lasagna or creamy potato soup. Hearty dishes are great for warming you up when it’s cold outside, but they can often be heavy on the fat and calories, making it difficult to keep any healthy resolutions you may have made this New Year!
To keep yourself and your family healthy and feeling good all winter long while still enjoying the comfort foods you crave, use the following tips to lighten up some of your heavier dishes:
· Cook slowly
Slow cooking is one of the easiest ways to cook nutritious meals for your family, as well as hearty, filling meals perfect for chilly weather. Slow cookers allow meats and veggies to cook in their own juices, so you won’t need any extra fat or cholesterol from butter or oil. There are hundreds of slow cooker dinner ideas out there, so experiment with different dishes and find your favorites!
· Use lean meats
It’s important to get enough protein in your diet, but some proteins are better for your health than others. Go through a few of your favorite easy recipes for dinner and occasionally try substituting ground beef or sausage with leaner meats such as chicken, turkey or even chickpeas if you want a vegetarian option.
· Bake, don’t fry
Foods like fried chicken and French fries are popular for a reason; they’re delicious! But while fried foods are comforting, they aren’t great for your health. Instead of frying this winter, try baking potato wedges and chicken dipped in egg wash and breadcrumbs for better-for-you twists on comfort food favorites.
· Sneak in veggies
Making a casserole or soup? In addition to whatever noodles, cheese and meat you throw in your casserole dish, make sure to add in some chopped up veggies for valuable vitamins and nutrients. You can even take it a step further and try foods like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes for a healthier side option.
· Choose whole grains
Picking whole grains over white flour is one of the easiest ways to incorporate a healthy dose of fiber into your diet. Shop for whole grain noodles if you’re craving pasta, use whole grain flour in your baking and serve a slice of toasty whole grain bread alongside a hot bowl of soup for carbs you can feel good about.
This slow cooker white chicken chili from ReadySetEat® is a great way to enjoy good, hearty comfort food this winter while still treating your body well. Beans and chicken broth create a lower-fat base than using cream or loads of butter, and the lean protein from the chicken and beans will keep you energized. Serve it for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or try it out on Super Bowl Sunday!
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Total Time: 8 ¼ hours
- PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
- 2 15 oz cans Great Northern beans, undrained
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 10 oz can Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, undrained
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Spray the inside of a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place 1 can of beans in the slow cooker and mash with a potato masher or spoon until smooth. Add the second can of beans (for a thicker chili, drain one of the cans of beans) and all of the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker; stir to combine.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours. Carefully separate chicken into bite-size pieces. Top with sour cream and a lime wedge, if desired.