Cold weather comfort food

vegetable soup with bread

During the cold winter months, our natural inclination is to seek foods that will warm us and “comfort” us. Don’t let the shorter days and colder air temperatures drive you into hibernation mode! Fight the urge to stock up on simple carbohydrates by increasing fiber and nutrient density with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. When making comforting soups and chilis, try these tips to pack on nutrition not pounds.

Substitute leaner protein

  • Use ground turkey or chicken breast instead of ground beef in chili recipes.
  • Use dried beans or lentils instead of meat to add low-fat protein and increase fiber, thereby increasing satiety.
  • Substitute leaner turkey-based products—like turkey Italian sausage, turkey pastrami, turkey pepperoni—in place of higher fat beef or pork versions.
  • Substitute shrimp or scallops in a soup or make a seafood gumbo instead of chili.

Fill in with lower-calorie ingredients

  • Cut the starchy ingredients in half (i.e, rice, noodles, potatoes) and double the low starch vegetables.
  • Serve a green salad with low-fat dressing as a first course to fill the stomach before getting to the more calorie dense foods.

Turn up the heat

  • Add a little spice to your recipes. Experiment with different seasonings to excite the taste buds and provide satisfaction without added calories. If you’re unsure of which spices to combine, there are many pre-made mixes from companies like Mrs. Dash and McCormick that do the work for you!

Try this hearty soup the next time you want a warm, comforting meal; it’s a favorite in my house and I hope it will become a favorite in yours too!

Lentil soup with sausage and kale

 Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound turkey Italian sausage
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • ½ pound Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
  • 3 or 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves shredded

Directions

  1. Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Remove sausage from casings and add to hot oil. Sauté sausage for 3 to 4 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks and browns.
  3. While the sausage is browning, pour the lentils onto a light-colored plate and sift through looking for any small stones.
  4. To the browned sausage, add onion, garlic, mushrooms, potato, rosemary, thyme, pepper and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the stock and 2 cups of water. Turn the heat up to high and bring up to a bubble.
  6. Add the lentils and the kale. Stir until the kale wilts then turn the heat down to medium.
  7. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

Yield

Makes 6 servings. (Serving size equals 1½ cups.)

Each serving counts as 1 protein, 1 starch and low starch vegetables.

Nutrition analysis per serving

Calories:  330

Fat:  8 g

Saturated Fat:  2 g

Trans Fat:  0 g

Cholesterol:  40 mg

Sodium:  520 mg

Carbohydrate:  41 g

Fiber:  7 g

Sugar:  6 g

Protein:  27 g

– Christine Licari, RDN, is a registered dietitian with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray and www.rachaelrayshow.com.

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