Warm comfort foods for the cold winter months

It has been an extremely cold winter that seems to just keep dragging on. Comfort foods make us feel good and help get us through these long winter months. However, some of the classic comfort foods can certainly have an effect on our waistlines. I am going to share with you some of my favorite comfort foods that taste great and have some health benefits too. Here are some make ahead recipes that are healthy and will help warm you up!
Oatmeal made from steel cut oats
Health benefits: These oats are higher in fiber and protein than rolled oats, have a slightly nutty flavor and will help keep you full longer!
1 cup dry yields 4 servings.
1)Bring 3 cups water to a boil.
2)Add 1 cup steel cut oats.
3)Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
4)Remove from heat, let stand for 2 minutes.
Sprinkle cinnamon, a tablespoon of chopped walnuts, and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for a warm, filling breakfast under 250 calories.
Tip: I make this whole recipe the night before, portion out into 4 containers and refrigerate. I take a serving to work each day and warm it up for breakfast.
Three Bean Vegetarian Chili (
Health benefits: Beans are packed with protein and fiber. This warm dish is also high in potassium, vitamin c and lycopene. It will keep you satisfied and tastes great!
Yields six servings (1 ½ cup serving size)
· 2 red bell peppers
· 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 cup chopped onion
· 2 teaspoons ground cumin
· 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
· 1 teaspoon paprika
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
· 2 cups organic vegetable broth
· 1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
· 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained and chopped
· 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
· 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
· 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
· 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1. 1. Preheat broiler.
2. 2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place pepper halves in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and chop peppers.
3. 3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add bell peppers, broth, squash, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans; simmer 25 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with green onions.
Tip: Double the batch and freeze half to save for a quick meal in the following weeks!
Chicken Noodle Soup (
Health benefits: A bowl of chicken noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food. It is naturally low in calories and by using fresh ingredients (instead of buying canned soup) the soup tastes better and is better for you, meaning no unnecessary ingredients or preservatives and is much lower in sodium.
Yields 6 servings
· 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
· 1 clove garlic, minced
· 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
· 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
· 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
· Salt and pepper
· 14.5 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
· 8 cups of water
· 1 1-lb. bone-in chicken breast half, with skin on
· 8 ounces thin egg noodles
· 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. 1. In a pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery; season with salt. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 6 minutes.
2. 2. Add broth, 8 cups water and chicken. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
3. 3. Remove chicken. Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Add noodles; cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Remove skin and bone from chicken. Shred chicken; return to pot. Season soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley.
Allison Mitchell RD,LDN, is the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Noble Hospital.

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