It's that time of year! Crisp weather, crunchy apples,
cinnamon, cider, corn stalks, pumpkin patches. For most
of us, it's autumn! And on the heels of autumn comes winter.
Time for hot, gooey, yummy comfort foods that warm you up
and stick to your ribs. Only problem is, most of our favorites
are chock-full of fat, calories and carbs that really add up
when it comes to our waistlines.
So how can you enjoy comfort foods this season without putting
on the usual winter padding? Here are some tips, straight from
"home kitchen" (in other
words, my kitchen):
1. Eat broth-based soups and stews.
Change flour-based or cream-based recipes. My beef stew recipe
called for a flour/water base, but now I make it in the crock
pot with just a touch of flour to coat the meat. The stew tastes
the same and is just as comforting, but now it's much lighter and
2. Watch your sides.
Want macaroni and cheese tonight? No problem! Serve a crunchy
salad or steamed veggies on the side. Must have gravy? Skip
3. Watch your portions.
Does this sound old hat? Well, it works! If you want to eat
comfort foods but also want to lose weight, simply do smaller
portions. You still enjoy the taste. It's not deprivation; it's compromise.
Simply changing what you think about portion control can circumvent
lack of willpower.
4. Drink water.
If you want to eat those comfort foods, save fat and calories
and sugar by drinking a tall glass of water (or seltzer) instead
of diet sodas, sweetened beverages, milk or coffee with cream
and sugar. If a can of soda contains over 60g of pure bad-for-
you carbs, imagine how much more mac-n-cheese you can eat if you
skip it! Another great beverage tip: feed dessert cravings with
flavored coffee. I love Green Mountain Coffee's "Pumpkin Spice"
variety. I drink it black and it tastes just like pumpkin pie.
All the taste, none of the sugar! I've seen flavors like
cinnamon bun, caramel swirl and creme brulee on grocery
store shelves. If you can't drink coffee black, use milk instead
of cream and skip the sugar. Chances are those dessert varieties are
5. Change up recipes.
Switch to whole-wheat pasta or even half-wheat pasta for
casseroles. You probably won't even be able to taste the
difference. My family doesn't! You may find you can cut back
on things like butter, milk, cream or high-fat cheese without
changing the taste. Try cutting 10-20% of the "bad stuff" each
time you make a recipe. See if you can notice a difference. If
you can't, keep cutting back until it becomes obvious.
6. Skip dessert, or make dessert your main comfort food.
If you're having a comfort-food main dish, skip dessert. But
if you really want that dessert (anything made with pumpkin, in
my case), have a healthy meal with dessert as the main focus!
6. Combine all these strategies to make meals that are
satisfying but a lot less fattening.
How does this work? Let's say your favorite comfort meal is
spaghetti and meatballs with Italian bread, Coke and salad. You
follow up with a bowl of ice cream for dessert. Pretty heavy
on calories and carbs, right? Switch your pasta to Barilla
wheat--looks like white and tastes like white, but with higher
wheat content, it's better for you. Skip the bread (or have
half a slice). Keep the salad but watch your salad dressing.
Replace the Coke with ice water. Refreshing! Save the ice
cream for tomorrow and have a steaming cup of dessert-flavored
coffee instead. I guarantee you'll feel just as comforted,
but you won't have to reach for your "stretchy pants".
Heck, follow all these strategies this fall, and you may even
find you have to go out and buy new pants (in a smaller size)
by the time Thanksgiving arrives!
Hope you find these tips useful.
Keep it real, and see you next week!
P.S. Only sixteen more days until the "What I Ate While On Vacation" blog
starts up! And hey, thanks to Tropical Storm Hanna for not
Myrtle Beach as much as it could have. Whew. The
house on the beach
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Copyright (c) 2008 www.RealPeopleDontDiet.com and Cate Brizzell