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Comfort Food Without the Guilt

Mac and Cheese; Comfort Foods Without the GuiltThe weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. 'Tis the season to layer on the clothes and to reach for comfort foods.

 

We all tend to crave some of the comfort foods that make us feel good. Everyone has that one special dish that brings you back to your childhood-meatloaf, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes smothered in butter and gravy.

 

"One of the joys of food and cooking are the warm memories," says Alisa Sunness, Registered Dietitian, UW Health and Nutrition Education. "As you work on your healthy eating goals, you can make a few adjustments in your preparation of comfort foods that will help you stay on track with your health goals.

 

"Comfort foods can be high in calories and saturated fat," says Sunness. "Try to use more veggies and seasoning to reduce the amount of the fat and calories while keeping the taste and losing the guilt."

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Here are four tips to make your favorite recipes healthier while keeping their traditional flavors and comfort.

 

1. Choose leaner meats. For example, your favorite meatloaf can be made with extra lean ground turkey. Even using ½ extra lean turkey and ½ lean beef will reduce the saturated fat.

 

2. Use low sodium products. Broth based soup can be very comforting, but often high in sodium. Simply try a low sodium broth to reduce the sodium.

 

3. Add extra seasoning. By adding extra seasoning, you can reduce the amount of added fat you need for a flavorful dish. Mashed potatoes will require less butter if you add extra garlic and dill for taste. Try putting a clove of garlic in the water as potatoes boil for extra flavor.

 

4. Add extra vegetables. For your favorite stew or casserole, add in vegetables. Even a homemade macaroni and cheese with a layer of spinach will help you get your daily recommended vegetables and increase fiber. Extra vegetables will also reduce the calorie density of your favorite comfort food.

 

"Try to expand on other ways that bring you comfort," adds Sunness, "such as outdoor activities, music, hobbies, and spending time with family and friends."