When the weather is frigid, you’re desperate for warmth. The limitations of your heater, your inability to wear every article of clothing in your closet and the chill you just can’t shake forces you to turn to your kitchen for relief. You spend hours preparing and moments eating the hearty, steamy dishes of the season. Stew, soups, fried sides, cream-based casseroles and warm, toasty, buttery desserts fill your kitchen, sending relief through your body . . . and fat to your belly. If you aren’t careful, the return of natural warmth will reveal a wintertime weight gain you’ll probably never lose. But eating cold meals in the cold weather doesn’t sound at all appealing, so make the following choices when shopping, cooking and eating. You’ll stay warm yet lean, making the future thaw a little less frightening:
• Avoid Excessive Cream and Cheese – heavy creams and hearty cheeses are the bases for numerous casseroles and side dishes. While tasty, warming and oh so satisfying, they can wreak havoc on your diet. Use low-fat/no-fat when you can or look for substitutions.
• Sip Smart Soups – soups are great ways to warm up and stay full, but when they’re loaded with sodium and fat you might as well have a Value Meal. Choose ones that are broth or tomato-based, and loaded with vegetables.
• Use Lean Meat – protein is vital but only in the right form. Skip the fat-laden burger; opt for a healthier cut, instead.
• Eat the Right Carbs – carbohydrates have serotonin, a chemical that will help ward off the wintertime blues, but be sure to have the right ones. A toasty English muffin or warm bowl of oatmeal will fight the cold, add the serotonin and limit the calories.
• Remember Fruits and Veggies – they’re so easy to forget because they aren’t in season, right? Wrong. Tons of great fruits and vegetables are available and at their best right now. Pick up some oranges, grapefruit, clementines, acorns, butternut and Hubbard squash, kale and Swiss chard the next time you hit the produce aisle.
• Stay Hydrated and Active – you aren’t warm. You aren’t sweating. You aren’t in the mood to exercise. Doesn’t matter. Have some water and hit the gym. The more inert you are, the colder you’ll be.