As temperatures drop and sunlight diminishes, it is tempting to reach for those foods that provide little nutrition yet offer warmth and relief. CNN Health shares that those who turn to comfort foods, which may take the form of sweet, calorie-dense, rich flavors or hearty, salty, and savory dishes, often report improved mood and reduced stress upon consumption.
Comfort foods may indeed provide comfort, but they don’t have to lead to weight gain every winter. SCPT would like to share several healthy ingredient suggestions and satisfying recipes to try, designed to bring extra nutritional value to your hungry winter indulgences.
- Orange winter vegetables, like butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes, carry complex carbohydrates to both fill and warm your insides while providing beta-carotene, which offers dry-skin benefits. Looking to add a twist to your favorite winter squash approach? The Food Network suggests Stuffed Acorn Squash with Red Wine Cranberry Sauce or Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, to incorporate your daily dose of orange. Also, pureed vegetable-based soups, like Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini, taste richer and more filling, offering heartier comfort value than broth-based soups.
- Quinoa packs a nutritional punch, offering B vitamins, healthy oleic acid, vitamin E, and complete protein benefits, in addition to that “nice and full” feeling that may bring lasting comfort during the winter months. Start your day with Quinoa Breakfast Porridge instead of oatmeal, and experiment with toppings to add variety and a splash of color to your bowl.
- To satisfy your sweet dessert cravings, choose dark chocolate , which, in moderation, can offer healthy heart benefits by decreasing risk of heart disease, while perking up your spirits, and increasing good cholesterol levels. For extra comfort, enjoy some hot dark chocolate in your favorite mug.
Increase your variety of healthy comfort food choices this winter, by coordinating a pot-luck dinner with your nutrition-mindful friends. Not only will you enjoy the nurturing company of others, but you can divide up the delicious leftovers for easy meal planning.
Beyond making nutritional and satisfying food choices this winter season, SCPT also suggests taking comfort in the invigorating power of being active, which can release feel-good endorphins, boost oxygen-rich circulation, and combat any seasonal sluggishness. With SCPT’s convenient online exercise videos, stretching and strengthening at home has never been easier, all year round. Contact us anytime with questions – we’re happy to help!