Traditionally it is the months that follow the Easter holiday period which see many of us go off track when it comes to our diet and lifestyle resolutions. Too much chocolate, training sessions skipped in favour of more doona time and plenty of comfort food can mean one thing – Winter weight gain. So here are some ways that you can enjoy your favourite Winter comfort foods, without the extra kilos to match.
If there is one Winter superfood, it would have to be soup, with studies showing that adding a soup to your evening meal can help you consume up to 100 fewer calories in a single meal! The trick here is to avoid the creamy soups and ditch the bread in favour of broth and vegetable based soups along with a few croutons or wholegrain crackers for the crunch minus the thick slices of toast and butter.
Low Carb Burgers
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 main issues with curries is that the coconut cream, rice, potatoes and fatty meats all combine to give a complete calorie and fat overload. Lighten 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.
Twenty years ago the toast slices were small and carbs were far less of a focus in our diets. Fast forward and now we are regularly served massive slabs of Sourdough or Turkish slices which also means that our carb and calorie intake has sky rocketed. The key to enjoying your breakfast toast is to choose small slices – a slice of Sourdough served at bakeries is often the equivalent of 2 regular slices of bread. Opt for multigrain or rye bread and look for nutrient rich toppings such as avocado, cottage cheese, smoked salmon or eggs for a nutritionally balanced meal.
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.
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.
You will be hard pressed to find a pub that does not offer a Winter pie on its menu. Unfortunately pies made with plenty of high fat puff pastry can contain as much as 50g of fat per serve, much of which is saturated. A much better option nutritionally is to swap to a pie made with filo pastry which contains just 5-10g of fat per 5-10 slices. Another option is to make your own pies with a single sheet of puff pastry on top, or ditch the pastry altogether in favour of mashed pumpkin or sweet potato.
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.
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 can be just as satisfying, much lower calorie options.