Crowd-pleasing turkey and white bean chili

Autumn is here and it brings cool mornings, football games, the changing colors of the leaves, apple and pumpkin picking as well as the fall comfort foods we all love. These foods provide a feeling of warmth and security and are delicious but can tend to not be the healthiest. Comfort foods don’t have to be unhealthy to taste yummy. You can still have your comfort foods and eat healthy if you learn how to make some simple healthy tweaks to your recipes. You can modify your comfort foods from their original version to be healthy and still be tasty. Here are a few tips on how you can make your comfort foods healthy and lip licking good!

  • Chili is an all-time favorite comfort food of many people and can be easily made into a healthy dish. You can start by using turkey meat instead of red meat; you can also opt for chicken chili made with boneless chicken breast. Create a healthier version by adding other veggies such as carrots, onions, zucchini and green peppers or mushrooms. Another way to add a little twist to chili is to replace the kidney beans with white beans. This will create a healthier version that is still yummy and comforting to the soul.
  • Mac & Cheese: How can you make a healthier version of mac & cheese? Simple with all the wonderful healthy alternatives today you can still enjoy your mac and cheese and add a healthy twist. Most supermarkets now carry quinoa pasta and noodles which is a great alternative to traditional white pasta. Quinoa is a complete grain that is wheat free, high in protein and is also gluten free. You can add roasted butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower or spinach. These will increase the flavor and texture of the dish. If your buying store brought mac & cheese go for Trader Joe’s mac and cheese or Annie’s mac and cheese which are available with wheat noodles and low sodium.
  • Mashed potatoes: Instead of mashed potatoes try mashed sweet potatoes. They are great with cinnamon and they satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.
  • Meat loaf: As a child I loved meat loaf! As an adult I barely eat it but when I do I eat a healthier version. By using ground turkey you are reducing the saturated fat you would get by using other meats such as ground beef or pork. You can use multi-grain bread crumbs and add shredded carrots, shallots and zucchini to give it a healthier kick.
  • Chicken noodle soup: Ever since I was a kid, chicken noodle soup has been my all-time favorite soup. How can you make a healthier version of chicken noodle soup? This one is easy! Use organic chicken broth, add more veggies such as kale which is packed with nutrients and use quinoa noodles instead.

The crisp cool weather of autumn makes cooking hearty and healthy fall comfort foods fun and therapeutic. Creating healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods will add more nutrition rich foods to you and your loved ones diet and that is a great way to start out the fall season. Happy autumn!

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