Healthy Comfort FoodsMarch 7, 2022
People tell me all the time that they gain weight in the winter because they are eating “comfort foods”, but what if I told you that you can eat tacos, pizza, burgers and pasta and still be able to lose weight? Here are some ways to keep our favorite comfort foods in our meal plan while maintaining a healthy weight.
Tacos contain many different food groups which is so great. When it comes to the meat, it is best to use extra lean ground sirloin or a lean ground turkey to cut down on fat and overall calories. When making a seasoning for the tacos, make sure to omit the salt as there are so many great flavors that come from the spices in the taco seasoning. This would be a much better option than using a store-bought taco seasoning, and it is almost just as fast. A great addition to tacos would be black beans as they provide fiber. Loading up tacos with lettuce and tomatoes give the tacos a great color while adding volume with not a lot of calories added. When choosing a taco shell, try to go with a whole wheat tortilla or even if you are using hard shells, those can come in whole grain and are typically low in calories as well. Sprinkle some light or 2% milk cheese on top and you are all set with a healthy and satisfying meal at home.
As mentioned above with the tacos, it is best to use a leaner version of ground meat as well. Many people enjoy chicken burgers or turkey burgers for an alternative meat source or even the vegetarian options of black bean burgers or soy burgers as well. The soy-based burgers do not contain any cholesterol, so it can be a good alternative to meat. Adding topping such as a slice of light cheese and a large amount of lettuce, tomatoes and onions can make the burger look more appealing as well. A whole wheat hamburger bun is recommended, or a lower carbohydrate alternative could be a 100- calorie thin bun or even skipping the bun altogether. What goes better with burgers other than fries? Cutting a potato or sweet potato into small pieces, putting on some olive oil and seasonings and baking it in the oven or using the air-fryer would be a very healthy way to still be able to enjoy fries. This might be a stretch for some, but if you are just looking to fulfill a salty craving and the crunch of French fries, kale chips may work for you. They take about 6-8 minutes in the oven to roast and with a little olive oil and sea salt, they could taste delicious as a side.
Who doesn’t get that weekly craving for some yummy pizza? The crust can be the main culprit of calories for the pizza, so the rule of thumb is the thinner, the better. If you make pizza at home using an ultra-thin premade whole wheat pizza crust, the calories will be much lower. There are also flatbread wraps that can be used as a pizza crust alternative which is a low-calorie option as well. Add as many vegetables to the top of the pizza as possible such as onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes. Pairing the pizza with a side salad with low-fat dressing can help control portion size as well. If you feel that your pizza is not complete without meat, try a turkey pepperoni or turkey sausage along with your veggie toppings.
The key to pasta is portion control. One cup of cooked pasta is typically the serving size on the back of the package which would be 2 ounces of dry pasta. This may not look like enough, so make it grow by adding vegetables such as broccoli or roasted zucchini. Whole wheat pasta is a great option and the fiber can fill you up and make you think that you are eating more than you actually are. A healthy protein could be added such as turkey meatballs or an alternative to a traditional pasta meal could be something like whole wheat pasta, shrimp and broccoli with drizzled olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. There are even other great alternatives to pasta for little to no carbohydrates such as zucchini noodles or soy noodles that can do the trick especially when there are the added flavors of sauces in the mix.