You made the resolution to cook “thinner” to be thinner, but problem is it’s cold outside! When cold weather hits, we tend to gravitate towards warm, doughy foods. In fact, CNN's diet and fitness expert and the author of "The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life, Dr. Melina Jampolis argues, “There is considerable research showing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) -- which affects 1% to 3% of the population -- is linked to increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings, which are probably consumed in the form of ‘comfort foods”. She further explains that even if you don’t suffer from SAD, the truth is that changes in brain chemistry due to shorter days and colder weather can make you, well, sad.
So let’s turn that frown upside down and get you on the road to satisfying your resolution while also satisfying your appetite. Below are 7 ways to make comfort food instantly “thinner”.
1. Hot Cocoa: Skinnychef.com Jennifer Iserloh is no stranger to skinny cooking, so she was eager to share a few of her tips for skinny comfort food cooking. Her first favorite is Hot Cocoa. She says, “It’s a great way to calm a sweet tooth and get extra fiber and iron from antioxidant rich 100% cocoa powder. To shave off calories, I use one tablespoon of stevia in place of sugar (cut 45 calories) mixed with one tablespoon of special dark cocoa powder (Hershey) and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, that makes the mixture seem sweeter without extra flavor or sugar. Top it off with a pinch of cayenne. Cayenne is zero calories, and ground chilies help you to burn more calories for up to 1 hour after enjoying them.”
2. Baked Goods: For lower fat baked goods, Chef Iserloh recommends cutting half the sugar in your traditional baked goods, like cakes, pies, and cookies and then adding grated lemon or orange zest to provide a sense of sweetness to make up for the sugar you cut. The home-baking queen, Betty Crocker, confirms that substituting fattier options in baking is a quick and easy way to cut calories and fat. You can swap out butter, oil, and whole eggs with lower fat options. Skinny Mom has hundreds of desserts and baked goods recipes that prove these skinny swaps don't ruin the flavor. Check them out here!
3. Breaded Foods: You probably think you know what I am going to say here, that most people know the trick of breading chicken fingers or fish and baking it in the oven. However, for Chef Jennifer Iserloh, this is a swap she just doesn’t feel is worth it because it never tastes as good. She recommends replacing 1/4 of your breadcrumbs with flax meal to cut salt, amp up fiber, and cut back on carbs. Flax has plenty of nutrition and makes breadcrumbs even crispier. She also recommends that you start your breaded goodies first in the skillet. “Coat a large skillet with non-stick spray and place over medium heat. Then cook your breaded item about 1 minute until the breading starts to crisp, coat the top with cooking spray and flip. Transfer it (skillet and all) to a preheated 400F oven and bake 10-15 minutes until cooked through.” Give it a try with Skinny Blackened Salmon!
4. Eat Less of a Good Thing: Betty Crocker knows comfort food and the first recommendation has nothing to do with changing the recipe, but instead "cutting servings into smaller portions is sometimes all that’s necessary to lower fat consumption.” I am sure that Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat would agree. “The basic premise of French Women Don't Get Fat is that you should eat only good food of very high quality, eat it in small portions, and savor every bite.”
5. Choose Leaner Meats: “People have this misconception that ground beef is bad for you, and turkey is a healthier option. But it really depends on the cut of meat,” says Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D. Ground turkey breast is the leanest option in terms of fat, Villacorta says. But the ground turkey sold at your grocery store may include darker thigh and leg meat—not to mention skin—that could boost the fat content to 20 percent. In that case, ground sirloin or chuck that contains between 7 and 15 percent fat is a much leaner option, he says.
6. Use Cauliflower Instead of Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes: At Skinny Mom, we often recommend cauliflower as a healthy alternative to potatoes. “Instead of going carb crazy and feeling guilty about our indulgence, I like to replace my traditional mashed potato recipe with my Skinny Mashed Cauliflower from time to time! With less than 100 calories, and 9g of carbs per serving, I always feel better when I make these! After trying this delicious side dish, regular mashed potatoes will no longer be worth the damage!
7. Use Low-Fat Dairy Products: Love her or hate her, Paula Deen is the “Queen of Comfort Food”, but when challenged by Dr. Oz, she was able to cut the calories in half of her famous Mac and Cheese recipe just by using low-fat varieties of standard ingredients.
Ready to take these skinny tips into your kitchen and get to work? Try these 12 Comfort Foods Made Good for You!
What are some ways you have cut calories and fat from your favorite comfort food dishes?