A great way to use leftovers, stuffed peppers or mushrooms are also a satisfying and filling food option that will save you reaching for seconds. Using plenty of vegetables and flavours such as chilli, tomatoes and spring onions you will have a filling, comforting meal without the unwanted calories. A healthy alternative to roast potatoes and stuffing, this dish will also count towards your five a day.
Rather than reaching for calorie-rich puddings and cakes, try making some healthy muffins to bring comfort to those cold winter days. Using flavours such as cinnamon and honey instead of sugar, and vegetable oil rather than butter, you will have a sweet treat without adding to your muffin top! Throw in some seeds and dried fruit to up the nutritional value.
It’s tempting to opt for rich hot chocolates or creamy lattes to keep you warm while you’re out and about, but choosing an equally warming and uplifting hot beverage such as chai tea or green tea with cranberry will save you a lot of sugar and fat, will hydrate you and leave you feeling refreshed instead of sleepy – perfect to motivate you into a walk or trip to the gym. Just be careful where you buy beverages from, as some coffee shops put more sugar in drinks than you’d expect.
Stocking up on some filling soup will be a comforting way to warm yourself up while getting some of your five a day. Make some yourself using butternut squash, lentils and chilli, or stock up on the fresh varieties of sugar and cream-free ready-made soups. Accompanied by some soda bread and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds you’ll be full of goodness and not reaching for the biscuit tin.
This classic warming comfort food doesn’t have to be a belly buster; there are lighter options that are just as satisfying. Try using wholemeal wraps instead of bread and fill them with beans, spring onion, avocado and a sprinkling of cheddar. Toast until golden and you’ll have a healthy Mexican dish that won’t pile on the pounds. Adding spices will tantalise your taste buds and prevent you seeking flavour in less healthy options.
Chocolate features greatly in many of our food cravings, and it can be difficult to resist a sneaky bar here and there. To satisfy your sugar craving, and so you’re not missing out completely, opt for a few squares of dark chocolate or Brazil nuts and dried fruit dipped in dark chocolate. The antioxidants will see you through the cold weather when you’re prone to feeling run down.
Take it away!
Despite feeling tired and in need of comfort, don’t automatically order a takeaway. To replace your favourite Indian takeaway, opt instead for a homemade vegetable curry, packed with spinach, chickpeas and tomatoes, as well as the essential spices and chillies to keep your immune system in check. As a comforting yet healthy replacement for your Chinese takeaway, consider a noodle stir-fry with prawns. The protein from the prawns will keep you fuller for longer and save you reaching for the phone to order your usual.
Risotto can be seen as a stodgy and rich dish, but only if you have a cream and butter laden one. There are lots of lighter risotto options that are just as comforting and satisfying and make a nice alternative to common indulgences like macaroni cheese and beef wellington. Try butternut squash, sage and chestnut risotto for a healthy, tasty meal. Risotto is also a great way to use leftover meats, vegetables and herbs.
Don’t be put off just yet! Yes, salad doesn’t sound like the most comforting replacement for the rich foods you are craving, but there are lots of interesting ways to make the humble salad more filling and exciting. Try toasted chestnuts, warm pears with a cranberry dressing or flaked almonds, turkey and redcurrants. The more colourful the salad the better.
A common New Year’s resolution is to go teetotal, but if that seems as if it will be too much of a shock to the system, try lighter alcoholic options instead. A small glass of antioxidant rich red wine is a good place to start, especially if you warm it up with slices of orange and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Or, there are in fact many brands of non-alcoholic beers and wines available, not forgetting that on a night out you can have some fruity ‘mocktails.’