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Healthy Living Blog

Information and inspiration to help you make a habit out of living healthy.

Beat the Chill: 9 Healthy Winter Meals

Thursday, January 19, 2017

By , YMCA Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

It’s exciting to hit the ground running with fresh plans for 2017. Some of your SMART goals may be to eat vegetables three times a week for one month or to add whole grains to your plate four days of the week.

However, doesn't this cold weather make that tough at times because our bodies want something warm? Let's be honest, most of our comforting, warm dishes are higher in calories and fat. That’s why I’m here to help!

Today, I am sharing a handful of my favorite chili & casserole, soup, and slow cooker recipes that will keep you on track to fulfilling your healthy goals.

Chilis & Casseroles

There is something so comforting about chilis and casseroles. In the recipes below, simple swaps have been made to increase the nutrient content and decrease the fat, calories and/or salt.

  • SLIDESHOW: Black Bean and Chicken Chili from Just a Little Bite

    In this chili recipe, replace the ground beef with ground chicken or turkey for a leaner meat option. The protein and fiber content is increased with a variety of beans. By adding warming spices like chili powder and cumin, the sodium content is reduced.

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  • SLIDESHOW: Creamy Chicken Quinoa Broccoli Casserole from Pinch of Yum

    Move over, cream of chicken soup. This casserole recipe lets you make your own simple and delicious version. By making it yourself, you are in charge of how much salt or fat goes into the dish.

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  • SLIDESHOW: Teriyaki Chicken Casserole from Life in the Lofthouse

    Try this homemade version of a favorite takeout dish. This casserole contains protein with the addition of chicken, whole grains in the brown rice and a variety of vegetables, giving it a balance of nutrients and flavors.

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Winter is soup season, but that doesn't mean you have to eat it out of the can. Soups are a classic comfort food that you can pack full of veggies such as pumpkin, spinach and tomatoes. They are a great way to use leftover veggies, too. When a recipe calls for whole milk or heavy cream, you can simply add in a lower fat milk to reduce the fat content, but not the flavor.

  • SLIDESHOW: Pumpkin Soup from PopSugar Fitness

    Add a boost of vitamin A to your day with this pumpkin soup. The full fat coconut milk in the recipe helps the body to better absorb the vitamin A in the pumpkin.

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  • SLIDESHOW: Spinach Soup by The Pioneer Woman

    Have leftover spinach in your fridge? This is a great recipe to use in a new and delicious way. Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse containing vitamin A, folic acid and iron.

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  • SLIDESHOW: Creamy Tomato Soup by the Recipe Rebel

    Try this homemade version of creamy tomato soup. This recipe is full of vegetables (not just tomatoes) for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals!

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Slow Cooker

The slow cooker is a great kitchen tool, especially this time of year. You get the warm comfort meal without too much effort. Win-Win! But most of the recipes we find for slow cooker meals require cream-of-something soups. These canned soups increase the fat and salt content. But you can easily make your own healthier version at home. Here are three ideas that are delicious and canned-soup-free.

  • SLIDESHOW: Slow Cooker Beef Stew by Whole and Heavenly Oven

    Looking for an easy meal on cold winter nights? Make this hearty and healthy slow cooker beef stew.

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  • SLIDESHOW: Easy Slow Cooker Lasagna by Kristine's Kitchen

    Lasagna is a delicious comfort food, but can take hours to make. This slow cooker recipe offers a way to enjoy lasagna without spending all day in the kitchen.

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  • SLIDESHOW: Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore by Healthy Seasonal Recipes

    This chicken cacciatore is full of flavor with Italian seasoning and paprika. The addition of herbs and spices lowers the sodium content in the recipe.

    View Recipe

What are your favorite healthy winter comfort foods? Share with us on Twitter or Facebook!

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