Outside the weather is not necessarily frightening, but if you’re on the east coast the nutritional cycle is about to begin! Time to ditch that whole bikini-ready mindset to eat light. With newly unpacked thick, warm sweaters and fall jackets, thoughts of belly-warming comfort foods take center stage this time of year. So, what does the term, “comfort foods” mean to you? The Urban Dictionary gave this definition:
Comfort food: defined as food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it.
The Collins Dictionary went a step further:
If you call something comfort food, you mean it is enjoyable to eat and makes you feel happier, although it may not be very good for your health.
Typically, these foods feel good in your belly and conjure up good feelings like my Dad’s cheesy tuna casserole; the five-cheese macaroni and cheese that I’ve always enjoyed watching my youngest daughter devour on Thanksgiving Day; and a recent addition to my list – these cauliflower cups. Umm-umm dee-lish!
I’m sure you could add more right? Spaghetti with meatballs; creamy ice cream; warm apple pie; cheesy lasagna; the line-up of cakes and pies that decorate your Thanksgiving tables; gravy on ANYTHING. 🙂 And on, and on ….
But how comforting can comfort foods be if we can’t comfortably fit into our clothes anymore?
Judging by the outpouring of annual New Years Resolutions to lose weight, there’s some major indulging going in the comfort food department when the air turns chilly. Every year, the cold weather brings on a six-to-seven month comfort-food binge, then a mad dash to melt all that fat away to fit into the latest warm-weather fashions.
There’s got to be a better solution. Can’t we have the best of both worlds? Warm, belly-rubbing comfort without the fat? I’d sure love that; wouldn’t you? Let’s see, how?
I guess it’s all about substitutions with flavor. 🙂
Take my cauliflower cups for example. Now please forgive me for not providing a nutritional calculation break-down. I despise dealing with numbers. BUT, this cup is made up of cauliflower, an array of veggies: carrots, celery, a little corn, onion and pepper that were sauteed in low calorie/low fat pan spray and baked with mozzarella cheese. The cheese provided some fat, but I choose mozzarella because it has less fat than cheddar. So, how fattening could this cauliflower cup be? And ohhhh, it’s so creamy and filling – with just those ingredients!
I think that we could take the fat out of other comfort foods too, like this veggie chili.
Can’t you just imagine how comfortable this bowl of chili would make your belly feel? You can get the recipe from The Pioneering Woman here. Can’t you just taste the spices and the blend of flavors from the different kinds of beans (protein!) – and without a speck of meat! See, we vegetarians and vegans know how to fill our bellies too! Low fat, and if you use packaged beans instead of the canned beans, you’ll lower your sodium intake too.
And what about soups and stews? They are naturally lower in fat if you don’t add ingredients that are high in fat, and they rake in high marks in the comfort food category.
Now I am a vegetarian, but I’m not trying to convert you. It just so happens that a true vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is automatically lower in fat because of the decrease in animal products. Now you don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to eat like one. There are many meatless meals that are comfort-food ready for you to try. But if you just have to have meat, there are a few turkey and chicken dishes on the sites below.
Here are a few websites for you to check out:
There are many, many more sites out there with a vast array of comfort food ideas that won’t expand our waist-line. Just because coat season can hide multitude of nutritional faux pas doesn’t mean we have indulge so heavily. I’m not saying cut out what we’re used to; just try something different once or twice a week.
Perhaps we can resolve to make a new promise to ourselves when the New Year rolls around.