In the midst of winter, it’s normal to want dinners that are comforting, filling and delicious. But just because a meal is labeled as “comfort food” doesn’t mean it can’t also be healthy and balanced.
From working with the right ingredients to opting for healthier cooking methods – like baking rather than frying – there’s a lot you can do to eat better.
There’s nothing like a tasty, homecooked meal to help you fight the winter blues. What’s more, you can make life easier with a meal kit delivery service like Home Chef. Whether you prefer meatless meals, recipes that cut carbs and calories or dishes you can whip up in less than 30 minutes, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Being aware of the calorie content of your food doesn’t mean you have to agonize over calorie tracking and counting. Instead, simply make your calories count by reaching for more wholesome options. You mostly want to avoid foods with high amounts of “empty” calories or with no nutritional value, commonly found in processed foods and sweets.
Ounce per ounce, salmon is a fairly low-calorie protein. This fish boasts other benefits, too. Salmon is low in saturated fats while being high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. “It’s also one of the best sources of vitamin B12,” according to WebMD, and a good source of nutrients like iron, potassium and vitamin D.
When it comes to dinners featuring salmon, there are dishes like Grilled Honey-Mustard Salmon with fresh tomato-dill relish and asparagus, Feta- and Herb-Crusted Salmon with lemony orzo, Blackened Salmon with Avocado-Corn Salsa and black beans, jalapeno and lime as well as Salmon and Raspberry Ginger Sauce with broccoli and zucchini stir-fry.
If you’d rather highlight seasonal ingredients in your meals, but still want to keep things relatively low-cal, consider incorporating winter vegetables like beets, brussels sprouts, kale, sweet potatoes and winter squash. Meals like Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash, Truffled Golden Beet Risotto, Mexican Eggplant Torta, White Bean and Butternut Squash Stew and Greek Zucchini Quesadillas let seasonal winter ingredients shine.
Find more calorie-conscious recipes, here.
Under 30 Minutes
On busy weeknights, most people prefer quick and easy dinners. Thankfully, you don’t have to compromise on flavor or nutrition when making a meal in less than half an hour.
Tacos, fajitas and enchiladas are all great vehicles for quick dinners. Smoky Pork Tacos with jalapeño ranch slaw and pico de gallo and stovetop options like Argentinean Steak and Potato Tacos with Chimichurri and Queso Fresco and Pulled Pork Enchilada Skillet with Lime Crema make weeknight dinners easy.
Many tasty pasta dishes are quick, too. Cozy meals like Chicken Thigh Spaghetti Carbonara with Snow Peas, Mushroom and Swiss Beef Cavatappi with Bacon and Green Onions and Italian Sausage Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream and Sweet Corn all take 30 minutes or less to make.
Make life – at least dinnertime – even easier with a meal kit or food delivery service. Home Chef delivers fresh pre-portioned ingredients directly to your door with easy-to-follow recipes that fit your lifestyle. Meals start at just $6.99 per serving and online ordering is simple.
While protein is an important part of a balanced diet, you don’t need to eat meat every night to get your recommended amount. There are tons of vegetarian dishes packed with a variety of nutrients, big flavors and plant-based protein.
A well-balanced vegetarian diet can boast many health benefits, including “reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Even if you don’t want to go full vegetarian, supplementing a few meals a week with meatless options can help improve your health. Plus, cutting back the amount of meat you consume can be good for the planet, too.
You can get your protein from sources like tofu, quinoa and beans. Tofu is a curd made from soy milk. It, like quinoa, contains all nine essential amino acids while being high in fiber.
Go for tofu-centered meals like a Huli Huli Tofu Rice Bowl with charred pineapple and teriyaki glaze, an Avocado and Tofu Sushi Bowl with carrots, cucumber and spicy mayo or Sweet and Smoky BBQ Tofu Tacos with mexicali slaw and toasted pepitas. When it comes to quinoa, there’s Home Chef’s Cuban-inspired Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Bowl, Quinoa Sweet Potato Burger and Glazed Squash and Quinoa Bowl.
If you feel the winter chills getting to you, reach for a bowl of cozy, filling Butternut Squash Chowder, Sundried Tomato and Kidney Bean Chili, tomato-based Pasta e Fagioli Soup, Baked Double-Cheese Mac or brothy Asian Shiitake Hot Pot.
Discover even more vegetarian recipes, here.
You don’t have to completely eliminate carbs from your diet in order to be healthy either. Carbohydrates give your body energy, so choosing your carbs wisely can go a long way. A carb-conscious diet means incorporating whole grains rather than processed, refined or simple carbs.
When following a carb-conscious diet, go for dishes starring lean proteins like fish, chicken and pork with sides of sautéed or roasted veggies, crunchy slaws and fresh salads. A nice Salmon with Cranberry Chutney and roasted butternut squash, oven-ready Basil Parmesan Chicken with zucchini and grape tomatoes or Pork Tenderloin Marsala with roasted broccoli would all make good choices.
Keep things interesting with some more composed dishes, like Home Chef’s Chipotle-Spiced Pork Tinga Stuffed Peppers with avocado crema and corn, Cozy Chicken and Black Bean Soup with pico de gallo and scallion crema or Sweet Chili Pork Lettuce Wrap with Crispy Rice Noodles – which is also a quick, easy 15 minute meal.
AAA members get $110 off Home Chef in January. Start 2021 with balanced eats and less stress over dinner and grocery shopping.
What cozy, balanced winter meals would you like to try? Tell us in the comments.