14 January 2013

Lighten Up Your Winter Cooking This New Year


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

Prep Time: 15 min
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. 

Author Bio: This is a guest post written by Meredith K. on behalf of ReadySetEat.  For other easy chili recipes to try out in your slow cooker this winter, visit www.readyseteat.com

65 comments:

  1. Slow cooking has been my life saver this past year and a bit, especially as a first time mom.

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  2. I love all beans and chicken. Thanks so much for this recipe. I'm definitely going to try this next week.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  3. That slow cooker white chicken chili looks delicious!! Always looking for some good slow cooker recipes, think I found one! :)

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  4. I always use lean meat and the slow cooker whenever possible. Fried foods are a once a year treat for us. I'll try the recipe thanks.

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  5. This is a good group of tips for healthier eating this year! My family loves potato wedges baked in the oven, too. We usually make them spicy with garlic powder and chili powder. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. my computer froze,i'm sorry if this is a duplicate comment.gotta love technology! these are awesome tips! i just tried the cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and my son said they were the best thing he has ever tasted! that rocks!

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  7. thanks for all the great tips- kishacotton@yahoo

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  8. These were very good tips. Sometimes we don't think about how heavy the winter food recipes.

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  9. Using the slow cooker saved us this winter. We work opposite schedules and it was nice t still have homecooked meals.

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  10. This chili looks awesome. I think we'll have it tonight.

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  11. I see I've been here before. Probably because I agree with the article.

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  12. I love slow cooking! Thank you for the great healthy cooking tips!

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  13. These are great tips for winter cooking, thank you!

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  14. These are great tips! I also puree veggies and throw them in with my hamburger when making meat loaf, hamburgers, etc and nobody knows the difference! It's a great way to add veggies to your meals for kids who won't eat them otherwise!

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  15. Cold winter days are just good times to eat. :-) I do so much better at eating salads and light meals during the hot summer, but I tend to bake more and find comfort in hot & heavy casseroles during the winter. Your tips will help me produce satisfying meals while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle for my family. Thanks!

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  16. We've started baking ore ida fries rather than making fried potatoes - very tasty and not many calories.

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  17. I love the recipe for the chili! awesome! will definitely try this thank you! Happy Easter!

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  18. These are some great tips! My husband and I have recently started doing all of the things mentioned above!

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  19. I won, but have not received yet an Aqua Chef oven, I am interested in seeing how different that makes cooking. This recipe would be great on a cold day. Vicki

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  20. This sounds so yummy, I'm going to have to make some before it gets too warm outside. The tips are great too, always looking for healthy ways to eat.

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  21. that soup looks so good and the recipe looks delish

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  22. These look like great ideas! Plus, I'm always looking for new soup recipes for winter.

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  23. I definetly have to try this one! I dont eat red meat or pork so the chicken chili sounds awwesome to me

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  24. Lots of great tips. Cooking in the winter does lend itself to heavy, more calorie laden foods.

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  25. This recipe looks very tasty. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. These are great tips! I love my slow cooker and I actually use it year round, it doesn't heat up the kitchen as much as using the oven, so it's great during the summer, too. (If summer ever get here!)

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  27. Cooking is fun, but sometimes challenging at different times of year; thanks for tips,etc.

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  28. I don't cook much. These are good tips. We only eat fried food once a year. As you get older it doesn't agree with you.

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  29. what an awesome recipe, thanks a bunch im going to try this out

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  30. cooking is fun and and tips are nice

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  31. Hey, I noticed you've not pinned any recipes since January. I am gravely concerned that your family hasn't eaten since then. Please visit any of my Pinterest recipe boards to start the fattening up process again. ;)

    http://pinterest.com/georgiabeckman/

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  32. Lol injustnwon a slow cooker and can't wait to use it

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  33. i love all these ideas, thanks for sharing

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  34. love all the ideas, would love to see some recipes you have ;)

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  35. Great ideas for some lighter summer cooking!

    Robin R

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  36. I made this for my Best Friend and She LOVED IT <3

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  37. I agree - baking foods whenever possible is way better than frying :)

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  38. I agree - bakijng whenever possible is much better than frying :)

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  39. I use my slow cooker all winter long for those hearty meals. It's nice to throw everything in one pot. Especially since I'm single and don't always like going to all the trouble just for me :)

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  40. Thank you for the great healthy tips! I need a slow cooker in my life...
    Kelly

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  41. I like to use a slow cooker year round. We hardly ever eat fried food. Maybe once a year. I have my husband fry it outdoors because the oil smell lingers. In general, we eat healthy.

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  42. Thank you for the recipe and the tips for winter cooking. I have alot of canned beans that I don't know what to make with and now I do. I also love my slow cooker.

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  43. This recipe looks really good, Im a country girl at heart and with a side of cornbread, It would make the perfect meal! I try to add beans in place of meat often like Tacos to make them healthier.

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  44. Oh your such a dear to post this...My DH loves Cherry Pie and I so needed a recipe to use to can them.
    Blessings
    Linda Finn
    faithfulacres7@gmail.com

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  45. Chilli is on the agenda for supper tonight !
    Linda Finn
    faithfulacres7@gmail.com

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  46. These are great tips! I love using my crockpot :)

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  47. These are great tips! Whenever I make something, I always see if there is any way to add more veggies, especially different types. A lot of times, especially when making casseroles or soups, other veggies just "go" with the recipe and can be easily added. Plus, I have 2 boys and a husband so making things a little more hearty is best!

    Erin K. (erinknack08@yahoo.com)

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  48. Nice to revisit this post, and to give you a comment! I did a tuna salad for my hubby this afternoon and added some grated veggies - he did not even know the difference. And I baking a lot more veggies instead of frying, all to keep cooking light as we head to the holidays. Thanks.

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  49. Very informative ! Might cook this for Christmas.

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  50. I love using my crock pot in the winter. Thank you for this recipe, I will be making this for my family :)

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  51. Excellent ideas! Fortunately I don't have to sneak in the veggies... my kids love them. Remembering to bake more is a great idea, rather than frying. Esp now that the A.C. isn't running!

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  52. Thanks for the reminders of how to lighten up my cooking & for the slow cooker recipe. I love using my slow cooker all year round, but especially turn to it a lot during the colder months when making roasts, soups, stews and the like.

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  53. Thank you for your post. It reminded me that I could be cooking more with leaner cuts of meat and cook them in my pressure cooker.

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  54. Hubby simply adores chili, I'm not a big fan but would love to give this chicken chili a try. I love chicken! Thanks!

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  55. I really liked your ideas for "lightening up" meals. But, I have a very picky eater. Sometime all she'll eat from a meal is meat. I make peas almost every meal. Any tips. Also, she's 13 and stubborn, so normal tricks don't work.

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  56. Great tips and something we all can do is save the just a little bit left overs in the freezer Then when making stew or soup add it in.

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  57. thanks for the tips - i definitely need to get back to healthy eating after Christmas! the recipe sounds wonderful, i need to pull out the old crock pot!

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  58. These are great tips. I can see that if I had a slow cooker, I could lighten up so much! I always just thought of it for convenience, but so much more. And the other tips are great, too!

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  59. What great tips, thank you so much....

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  60. Good ideas! I usually use beans to thicken up my soups.

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