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Healthy Eating Tips: Lighten Up Chilly Weather Favorites

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As the weather turns chilly humans tend to favor eating more hearty, rich, and creamy foods.

With a bit of recipe tweaking we can lighten the calorie, salt, and unnecessary fat content of our favorite dishes and desserts, without losing an ounce of their fabulous flavors.

Here are some suggestions for keeping four fall favorites - chili, pies, creamy soups, and muffins - heavy on taste, texture, and nutrition only.

Chill-Busting Chili. Lighten up a pot of chili by making beans the primary ingredient. Use pinto, black, cannelloni, or kidney beans, or a medley of them. Reduce the added meat by one or two ounces and select the leanest cuts of pork, beef, chicken, or turkey available.

If you add canned items, choose low sodium, or no added sodium options; rely on herbs and spices to ramp-up the flavor. If you like chili toppers such as cheese or sour cream, use common sense portions.

Pleasing Pies. Lighten up pies by using fresh ingredients instead of canned pie mixes. If you do use canned filling, choose a 100 percent pureed option such as pumpkin puree.

You can create a delicious pie with fresh fruit, a moderate amount of sugar, and simple flavorings such as cinnamon, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. No globs of butter are necessary. Consider going with a half crust (bottom only), or covering just half the pie’s top with a few strips of crust.

Creamy Soups. Lighten up delicious chowders, and creamy mushroom, butternut squash, or pumpkin soups by using broth or stock instead of heavy cream, or a roux (fat and flour). Thicken the soups with vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes, or butternut squash, and add other chopped veggies (e.g. carrots, peppers, broccoli, spinach) to make the soup more nutrient rich.

For added protein, and to increase the soup’s fiber content - something most of us do not get enough of - toss in some legumes such as peas, beans, or lentils.

Marvelous Muffins. Lighten up a batch of muffins by using whole-wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose white flour to increase the fiber content. Consider eliminating some of the oil or butter, substituting with prune puree, apple butter, nonfat plain yogurt, or applesauce. Fill the muffin tin or cups just two-thirds full to bake and enjoy perfectly-portioned muffins.

Source: Toby Amidor/U.S. News
Photo credit: jeffreyw