We all have our comfort foods. Mine happens to be a big bowl of pasta with marinara—and lots of parmesan. While comfort foods tend to be starchy and packed with the dreaded white carbs, that’s not the case for all. From swapping purple yams for ordinary spuds to sneaking in veggies to hearty soups, there are several ways to add extra nutrition to our traditional holiday foods. Keep these seven pointers at hand.
1. Sweet Potato Switch
This is the easiest swap by far. Upgrade your spuds using yams and sweet potatoes. You get a big serving of happiness-promoting pro-vitamin A carotenoids, healthier carbs and more magnesium—the mineral that helps keep you calm (not that anyone is frenzied during the holidays). And please banish the candied yam from your table. These are naturally sweet, so keeping them simple is best. Bake in the oven, add a pat of butter and enjoy. I’m currently hooked on purple yams.
2. Slow and Easy Slow Cooker
This is your #1 secret weapon this season. Use the slow cooker to feed the crowd with savory soups and slow-cooked roasts. The slow cooker lets you pile on the vegetables—a key to thriving this time of year. I am amazed with how much time and fuss gets cut out from meal prep. Literally, drop in your ingredients, push go and walk away for six hours. Start with an easy lentil soup (lentils, carrots, onion, water and herbs). For a great set of recipes, check out these by chef Jennifer Iserloh.
3. Where’s the Beef ?
As we continue to celebrate food—and especially plants—meat is often missing from lists of superfoods. To remedy that, try six hours in the slow cooker to turn low-cost, lower-calorie, nutrient-dense cuts into delicious entrees. In the mood for upgrades? Try more veggies and better meat. Go grass-fed with the beef by heading to your local butcher who does it right, like Kensington Quarters in Philly.
4. Blend in the Greens
Whatever your carb-comfort, please follow this rule: add Greens. Whether it is sautéed Swiss chard to your marina, kale pesto to your mac-n-cheese or simply starting all meals with a colorful salad, be sure to cross this color off your holiday eating checklist.
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