Winter is a time when we crave warming foods to comfort us in the cold. However, usually, these foods are high in fat and/or sugar, which means adding extra fat and sugar we don’t usually take on during Summer. Did you know the average person puts on three to five kilograms over winter?
What if we told you, you can still have comfort foods without the guilt? It’s all about your choices.
Here are five of our favourite guilt free winter comfort food recipes:
Chunky Chicken Soup
500g chicken breast
1 vegetable soup pack (carrots, potato, swede, onion, celery, parsnip)
1 McKenzies Soup Mix packet (500g)
3 chicken stock cubes or a tablespoon of powdered chicken stock.
Cut chicken breasts into cubes and dice vegetables and add to a large stock pot (I use my Chasseur 26cm French Oven), add stock and soup mix. 3/4 fill the pot with water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until soup mix and vegetables are tender.
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Casserole
8 (about 2.2kg) chicken thigh pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g rindless bacon rashers, coarsely chopped
2 leeks, pale section only, washed, ends trimmed, cut into 2cm-thick slices
400g button mushrooms, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons plain flour
250ml (1 cup) Chicken Stock Salt Reduced
250ml (1 cup) white wine
6 sprigs fresh thyme
125ml (1/2 cup) low fat cooking cream (I usually use Philadelphia cooking cream)
Mashed potato, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a 3L (12-cup) capacity flameproof, ovenproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken, reheating the dish between batches. Use kitchen paper to wipe the dish to remove excess fat. Heat oil in the dish over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, leek, mushroom and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until well combined. Add the stock, wine and thyme, and bring to the boil.
Return the chicken to the dish. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a skewer.
Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a plate. Transfer the remaining leek mixture to a medium saucepan. Add the cream and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Divide the mash among serving plates and top with the chicken. Pour over the leek mixture to serve.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
This has to be the easiest dinner to make and it is a winner for the whole family.
1 500g round steak cut into cubes with the fat cut off or buy pre-cut casserole beef (Coles has 500G diced beef packs)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 large white onion, chopped
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups potatoes, cubed chunks
4 celery sticks, cleaned and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock, low sodium, fat-free
1 cup red wine (optional)
1 400g can diced tomatoes
Place all the above in the slow cooker (on auto or low for 8 hours) first thing in the morning and by dinner time it will be ready to serve.
Takeaway pizza can be quite laden with fat but it is quick and easy to make your own. Making homemade pizza from pre-prepared dough is a quick and easy dinner, any night of the week. I cheat and use pita bread/wraps, frozen pizza bases or buy ready-made bases from Baker’s Delight but making your own dough only really adds a few minutes to the prep time. Add toppings of your choice and cook in a 160-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding
This guilt-free pudding was modified from a Weight Watchers recipe I have been using for years.
Melted dairy spread or olive oil, to grease
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
240g (1 1/2 cups, lightly packed) brown sugar
50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
125ml (1/2 cup) skim milk
40g reduced-fat dairy spread, melted
500ml (2 cups) boiling water
Reduced-fat ice cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity ovenproof dish with melted dairy spread to lightly grease.
Combine the flour, half the sugar and half the cocoa in a medium bowl. Add the milk and dairy spread and stir until well combined. Pour into the prepared dish.
Sift the remaining sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Sprinkle pudding with sugar mixture. Gently pour in boiling water.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a cake-like top forms and a skewer inserted halfway into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Serve immediately with reduced-fat ice-cream.
What is your favourite Winter comfort meal?