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Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall Comfort Foods

When September rolled around I started thinking about this topic and asked the question on social media – “what is your favorite comfort food?”  I received many responses and here were the common ones that kept popping up: Soup (chili, butternut squash, and chicken noodle), one-dish meals and casseroles (mac-n-cheese, chicken pot pie), and all things pumpkin (particularly cookies). 

Here are some ways to enjoy those favorite comfort foods while keeping the nutrition high.  Let’s start with dessert:

It’s not often that you can get a decent amount of vitamin A in your chocolate chip cookie.  But that is what happens when you make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I personally love the spice cake mix, can of pumpkin and dark chocolate chip recipe. 

These are an excellent way to work veggies into your meal routine.  Add in an extra can of beans to your chili, add some sautéed onion and carrot to your butternut squash soup recipe, and an easy swap of whole-grain noodles, and some extra carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms and spinach or kale to your chicken noodle soup will definitely keep you healthier this fall.

One-dish meals:
After a long day at work, nothing welcomes you out of the cold than one of your favorite casseroles.  And there’s nothing like one dish to clean up once dinner is over.  So lets talk cheese.  Warm, creamy, cheesy is a common denominator in many of our comfort foods.  Here are some tips to keep that mac-n-cheese bursting with nutrition.  Using a whole-grain macaroni will keep the fiber high, and then adding in some veggies will help round out the nutrition of the meal.  Broccoli is a natural choice when we’re talking cheese sauce, but you could try onions, mushrooms or even cubed butternut squash depending on your tastes.  Always try to use a sharper cheese – that way you can use less cheese, but get more flavor.  Remember, we’re trying to keep half of our meal produce, so load up on the veggies.  If you’re a purist, that’s fine, just be sure to serve a salad and a side veggie as well to keep your meal balanced.  With chicken pot pie, load up that filling with veggies galore.  And let’s face it, it’s not the filling that gets us into calorie overload, it’s the crust.  The simplest solution is to make a one-crust pot pie.  You still have the brown, crusty, yumminess but with out the extra calories from the soggy bottom crust. 

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