It is the time of year when food thoughts turn to pies, pastry, pasta and puddings – warm, tempting treats that we give ourselves permission to eat simple because it is Winter. Unfortunately the kilo creep that tends to accompany these high calorie, high fat foods is not all that appealing so here are some ways to enjoy your favourite Winter comfort foods minus the fat and calories.
The biggest issue nutritionally with pies and pasties is the massive wad of pastry that accompanies them which can add 20-30g of fat to any meal. A much healthier alternative that still offers plenty of bulk and taste is to switch to making pies with filo pastry which contains just 5-10g of fat per 5-10 sheets compared to puff pastry which can contain three times this amount. Or, simply mashing your favourite vegetables including pumpkin, potato, zucchini and sweet potato and adding a little cheese creates a tasty, filling, fibre rich vegetable topping for any pie or baked mince dish.
We all know there are few things as tasty as a fresh bowl of pasta with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan but for those keen to keep their carb intake controlled pasta can be taboo on many a Paleo or low carb diet. Like any one food, enjoying an entrée sized bowl of good quality pasta every so often is no issue but many people who have swapped their traditional pasta for a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta have not looked back. With next to no calories, and full of nutrients and fibre, zucchini pasta can be freely enjoyed with your favourite pasta sauce.
Burgers minus the bread
It may surprise you to hear that a burger can actually be a relatively good option when dining out, or when preparing a tasty treat style meal at home. The trick is to choose lean beef or chicken breast as your burger base along with plenty of salad. Ditch the extras such as cheese, mayo, bacon and egg and if you can, say no to the chips. If you are super keen you can also opt for a low carb burger, using a mushroom or lettuce leaves as your bun for a tasty, filling meal with significantly fewer carbs.
The biggest issue nutritionally with a curry is a large load of both fat from coconut cream and heavy carbs thanks to the rice and potato base many popular curries are served with. The good news is that it is relatively easy to lighten the calorie load of your curry by choosing vegetarian options; ditching the rice in favour of extra vegetables and if you are making curry at home, use a light evaporated milk with a little coconut essence as a lower fat alternative to coconut milk and cream.
When it comes to enjoying a hearty Winter roast; the more vegetables you can add the better. With a roast the extra fat and calories generally come from fatty serves of meat and the gravy so if preparing your roast at home, choose the leaner cuts of meat; load up with plenty of the lighter, nutrient rich vegetables including pumpkin, carrots and greens and ask for your gravy to be served on the side so you can control your portions.
Whilst nachos, burritos and quesadillas can be packed with fat and calories from rice, flat bread, corn chips and cheese the humble taco can be a relatively good choice. With a single taco shell containing just 6g of carbs and 2g of fat, a couple of tacos filled with lean meat and plenty of salad can be a great choice nutritionally. Just watch the portion sizes of avocado, cheese and sour cream which can bump up the fat content of your Mexican significantly.
Winter is synonymous with puddings, pastries and pies seeing us eat desserts and treats we never usually would. The key thing to remember is that a single cream or pastry based dessert will contain more calories than a meal so sharing or tasting is always the key. Baked fruit, small individual puddings with just a spoon or two per serving or a hot drink made with a little milk and cacao can be just as satisfying, with significantly fewer calories. Another option is to limit the number of times you indulge in dessert to just once every week or two, this way you can enjoying whichever dessert you like and the occasional nature in which you are having it means that you do not need to be overly worried about fat or calories.