Healthy Comfort Foods

Cold weather calls for warm and familiar comfort foods, so add a few new, and healthier, options to your family’s favorite menus.

| December 5, 2008

  • A yummy helping of Italian Sausages Risotto.
    Risotto and tomato sauce along with Italian sausage make a great comfort food.

  • A yummy helping of Italian Sausages Risotto.

Washington, D.C. – As the winter season knocks on doors across the country, many people will be yearning for some cold-weather comfort foods. And why not? After all, they can be warming, bring back memories, and make you feel good all over. This year, add a couple of new options to the list of things to try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how good they make you feel and how well they fill you up.

“Macaroni and cheese is not the only comfort food out there, although it’s often the first one people think of,” says Enzo Febbraro, co-owner and executive chef of the Washington, D.C.-based D’Acqua Ristorante. “There are some other really good-tasting options that will be equally warming but will add some variety and pizzazz.”

To warm things up, try some slow-cooker recipes that will have dinner ready as you walk in the door from being out in the cold. Hearty fall soups are a great slow-cooker option. Just add some bread, and it’s a quick, easy and satisfying meal. Other popular options include stuffed cabbage, lasagna and spaghetti. To try something a little different, try making some potato gnocchi or a homemade pizza. Another good option is risotto, which is a rich and creamy Italian rice dish.

“These dishes not only bring comfort, they taste wonderful,” Febbraro says. “Plus, they are fun to make. They can also be made healthier by paying a bit closer attention to the ingredients when preparing each dish.”

To make comfort-food dishes healthier, the American Dietetic Association recommends:

1. Increasing the amount of vegetables in dishes like soups, stews, pasta, casseroles and homemade pizza.
2. Adding dry beans to dishes to bulk them up and increase nutritional benefits.
3. Trimming the fat off any meat before cooking, and leaving off the skin from the chicken.
4. Draining the grease from browned meat before adding it to dishes.

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