As the earth moves further away from the sun, temperatures drop along with the autumn leaves. The sun rises late and goes down early, setting the stage for our bear-like desire to hibernate. Along with that wish for deep sleep and solitude also comes the nearly irresistible urge to eat the heavy, rich foods that sustained our caveman ancestors through those dark seasons. Nowadays, while the desire for hibernation and over-eating remain, our lifestyles no longer sustain those behaviors. Fortunately, there are ways to update your diet that still satisfy your cravings for the rich and savory without being high in calories.
CHANGE UP YOUR CHILI
As the thermometer drops, you may find yourself craving a steaming bowl of rich, spicy chili. Whether you’re spending the day at home or tailgating with a group of friends, it’s a great dish for those cold days. The problem is that the traditional recipes are often chockfull of beef and sour cream, making them high in calories. Instead of chucking the chili, however, all you need to do is to modify your recipe. Replace the ground chuck with turkey and jack up the protein count with beans and quinoa. Throw it all in your slow cooker, and you’ll never go back.
HARNESS THE POWERS OF CHICKEN AND GREEK YOGURT
Beef stroganoff is a favorite winter dish for many; it definitely is a tasty entrée that will stick to your ribs no matter how cold it may get outside. Instead of nixing this all-time favorite, substitute chicken for beef, and use creamy Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. We promise that your family will hardly know the difference.
BRING OUT THE GRILL
Preparing meat on the grill isn’t just something you should save for the summer. Do it outdoors year-round, or move your operation to a stove-top unit indoors. With the help of your grill, you can continue to say “yes” when your family requests dishes such as chicken Parmesan. Simply grill instead of breading your meat. You don’t need to sacrifice any of the gooey goodness although you might consider a lower-fat cheese option. Pair your chicken parm with colorful and nutritious spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta for a tasty and fun twist.
SLIM DOWN YOUR FLAPJACKS
There’s nothing like melt-in-your-mouth pancakes hot off the griddle and drizzled with syrup, but oh the calories! Have your cake and eat it too by adding half a cup of canned pumpkin for each cup of batter. Instead of maple syrup, simmer frozen blueberries over medium heat for five minutes to make an antioxidant-rich, delicious syrup substitute.
DON’T FORGET THE VEGGIES
Do you have a favorite comfort food recipe that is so steeped in family tradition that you don’t have the courage to modify it? If you don’t want to change even one ingredient in Grandma’s hip-expanding mac and cheese but want to continue to eat conscientiously, portion control can be your savior. Instead of serving heaping bowls of Granny’s traditional recipe, divide servings by half or even three-quarters. Fill the rest of the plate with steamed seasonal vegetables or a creamy but low-calorie winter slaw.
When the snow is flying and the sun doesn’t make an appearance for days on end, it’s hard to imagine that spring will ever come, but it will. When it does, you’ll be glad you made a commitment to your health and that of your family by serving delicious foods that satisfied without leading to significant weight gain. Isn’t it nice to know that it’s possible to hibernate without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle?