HEALTHY WINTER COMFORT FOODS

Healthy Winter comfort foods blog

As our days are getting darker, and we are approaching the shortest day of the year, I find myself wanting to curl up in front of the wood stove with some scrumptious comfort food.

Being a nutritionist and following the Open Door philosophy of working towards a healthier self, my concept of “comfort food” has changed quite a bit in the past few years. I used to enjoy a plate of mashed potatoes or a gooey brownie sundae. Yum! It was delicious - and always made me feel tired and a little sick afterwards. Why is it that something so yummy can make me feel so blah!?  Because when we eat a high sugar food, like sweets or potatoes, we first get a burst of energy as the sugar enters our system , but then our energy plummets along with our blood sugar, making us crave even more sweets. 

To avoid this exhausting roller coaster of cravings, try substituting vegetables for sugar. WHAT!? Seriously, it is really satisfying, warming, and you feel great afterwards. 

ere are some of my favorite comfort foods:

1) Cauliflower Florets: Try steaming cauliflower florets until tender - about 10 minutes. Then, mash the cauliflower with some olive or coconut oil, garlic, seasonings and herbs to taste. This has the consistency of mashed potatoes, tastes delicious and is very nutritious. Cauliflower is also deliciously satisfying simply tossed in olive oil or coconut oil and roasted in a medium/hot oven (375- 400 degrees) for 30 minutes.

2) Brown Rice Pudding: A sweet treat . Cook brown rice in milk or coconut milk instead of water -I usually add an extra cup of milk when cooking the rice; when the rice is cooked, stir in some grated coconut/unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut nectar to taste. (The coconut nectar is a fabulous sweetener that does not spike your blood sugar like other sweeteners.) Add salt and cinnamon to taste, some chopped banana or other fruit, and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

3) Roasted Ratatouille: A very comforting food. This is a great recipe my friend, Carole, gave me from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers. In a large bowl, chop into 1-inch chunks: 1  large zucchini, 3 large onions, 1 medium eggplant, 2 medium tomatoes, 2 red or yellow bell peppers, and 6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped). Toss this all together with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Spread the vegetable mix on a baking sheet (or two). Roast for 1 hour at 450 degrees. Make sure you stir the vegetable mix every 15 minutes while roasting. When the vegetables are done, stir in 1 cup chopped, fresh basil. Add some grated Parmesan if you wish. Delicious!

--Holly Westling