Maybe it’s the temperature drop that makes us want to pad on a few pounds through mashed potatoes and hot chocolate. Maybe it’s just the way cream-based soups warm the soul on a cold day. But I think we’re all a little guilty of over-indulging during the fall and winter months. It doesn’t help that the typical foods we associate with this time of year are heavy on the gravy and graham cracker crusts. Add to that the fact that you don’t feel like exercising outdoors (even though you should) when it’s chilly out, and the drive to the gym through rain and snow doesn’t sound appealing, and you just aren’t exercising as much as you do during the summer and spring. Suddenly, you’ve put on seven pounds. Luckily, you can still get your comfort food fix without overdoing it. Here are fall foods to curb the comfort food binging.
Baked potatoes are good, but overdoing it on them can make you feel heavy and sluggish. Squash bowls are lighter, and give you tons of vitamins you need during cold and flu season. Slice your favorite squash (butternut, acorn) in half and bake until soft. Then stuff it with healthy ingredients like scrambled eggs, feta cheese, and kale.
If you’re craving creamy soup, try making cauliflower soup. Boil the veggies until soft, and puree them in the blender with non-dairy creamer and spices. You won’t notice the missing dairy, and you’ll be glad to significantly cut calories.
Lighter potatoes au gratin
Potatoes au gratin are a classic fall and winter side dish, but they can get heavy on the calories. Try making your favorite recipe with fat-free milk instead of whole, light butter, and reduced fat cheese.
Brussels sprouts and pancetta
Bacon is obviously one of the best fall and winter food toppings but you can get your crispy pork fix without having bacon mac and cheese. Try making baked Brussels sprouts with pancetta. The fiber-heavy dish will fill you up on few calories.
Brown rice mac and cashew cheese
Mac and cheese is one of the best comfort foods for cold weather but it’s obviously hard on your waistline. Swap out regular macaroni for brown rice mac and use cashew cheese mixed with almond milk instead of regular cheese and milk. Add a little nutritional yeast for flavor and texture.
Baked apples with crumble filling
Get your apple pie fix by flipping the crust to fruit ratio on its head. Bake green apples in the oven and fill them with cinnamon, oats, and raisins for a lighter dessert.
Spiced non-dairy lattes
Instead of hot chocolate with marshmallows get a non-dairy spiced latte. Add turmeric and you’ll even curb your appetite a bit.
Cauliflower crust pizza
There’s something about a hot, cheesy pizza when it’s cold out. Try making cauliflower crust. You’ll get fiber, vitamins, and a very low-calorie crust that complements your regular pizza toppings.
Baked potato wedges
Easy on the French fries. Try making baked potato wedges instead. Slice potatoes into thick wedges, drizzle with olive oil, add preferred spices (like Cajun for a kick or Ranch powder) and bake in the oven.
Lean beef goulash
Beef goulash may be a throwback recipe but it’s filling, comforting, and surprisingly healthy. Opt for extra-lean stewing beef and pour your final product over sweet potatoes for a vitamin-packed meal. We like this simple recipe.
Healthy spinach dip
Hot, creamy, cheesy spinach dip is the best fall appetizer but the traditional variety is loaded with heavy cream, cheese, and sour cream. This recipe relies on light sour cream and mayo and part-skim mozzarella.
Chicken and brown rice soup
Instead of chicken noodles soup, try chicken and brown rice soup. You’ll still get all the veggies, filling chicken, and warming broth but you’ll get fiber from the rice.
Lentil baked ziti
Baked ziti is always a hit during this time of year but the traditional recipe isn’t exactly diet-friendly. Try this recipe that incorporates fiber and mineral-boasting lentils.
Low-fat vegan curry
Make your favorite curry with low-fat coconut milk rather than the whole fat stuff. You’ll cut considerable calories. Make it with tons of veggies like bell peppers, snap peas, and carrots and use tofu for your protein.
Brown rice risotto
This recipe is low on dairy but you won’t even notice that—it’s super flavorful and creamy.