Comfort Foods Made Healthy – 3 Super Simple Tips

By Guest Blog Contributor: Paula Stephens,  Mrs. Colorado 1995

Fall is the perfect season to surround ourselves with comfort foods. They warm our hearts and make our souls giggle with delight…Then our hips & thighs roar in laughter when you try to slip into that favorite little black dress for the annual Holiday Party. It’s not fair! So here are a few little yummy tricks and treats that will make your heart & soul happy and that little black dress fit like summer.
We are biologically wired to hunker down in the winter and be attracted for heavy warm foods that help us survive the long hard winter (read: store fat) and fight off the wooly mammoth (think Manny from Ice Age). The problem is, we no longer need this biological que to store fat. You can’t change your biology, so work with it and give it what it wants. No, not Mac & Cheese! Give it warm inviting flavors like Cinnamon, creamy goodness in fat-free greek yogurt and thick pumpkin.
On Sunday I whip I a big batch of this Fruit Dip, put it into small individual containers. That and a fresh Colorado apple from the farmers market and my tummy is as happy as my hips! The greek yogurt has the protein to keep you full and the pumpkin pie spice gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. If you want the nutritional info head over to the blog post on my website.

Another one of my favorite way to trick Mother Nature is by increasing the nutrient value of the foods I love. When your body is getting all the nutrients it needs (ie: vitamins, minerals etc) it is less likely to send you the signal to eat. Hunger signals are not just about your bodies need for calories, it is also how your body signals you it is lacking nutrients. Enter – Pumpkin! A super food with a crazy amount of antioxidants – I serving gives you 200% of your daily Vit.
Once a week I will cook up a master batch of Pumpkin Oatmeal that serves as a quick & uber nutritious breakfast for the fam all week.  It’s like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast, and it turbo charges your inner super-hero into action all morning. The entire recipe and nutrition highlights are here.

The last problem with comfort foods is that we tend to eat them in HUGE quantities (again read: store fat = biology). However, if we eat richly flavorful foods smaller amounts usually hit the spot. Take the picture below for example. Super simple – Fresh Figs, quartered and stuffed with goat cheese and roasted for 10 minutes at 425. Drizzle with Honey Balsamic. BAM! Rich flavors that explode in your mouth. And yes I did eat the entire plate of them. But at less than 300 calories it tastes better, has more nutrients and way less calories than anything on the Cheesecake Factory menu.

So here’s your take-aways.
1.       Add warm spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to healthy choices to warm them up.
2.       Use nutrient dense foods (think naturally orange & red foods) to satisfy your biology.
3.       Increase the flavor factor to WOW your tastebuds.

Last thought – All the suggestions I made here are super simple. I have a rule that I never pass on anything that isn’t as nutritious as it is delicious and simple. Now you go rock this fall season by embracing your biology, eating smart with the rich flavors of the season!