As the weather gets colder, it's time to start whipping out those classic warming winter dishes! But just because you're craving warm, wintery food doesn't mean it has to be unhealthy.
Our LiveLighter nutritionist, Anne Finch, shares her top tips for creating that indulgent, comforting taste, without adding buckets of cream, cheese or salt.
You won't believe it's not cream
That creamy texture and mouthfeel feels so comforting when it's cold and stormy outside. Here's a few sneaky ways to get that feeling without the cream!
- Low-fat evaporated milk is a great swap for cream in a lot of recipes. Add it just before the end to make sure it doesn't split
- Make a white sauce out of 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 cups of milk and ½ cup reduced-fat cheese as a lighter alternative to a béchamel or cream sauce. It's great in a potato bake or as a macaroni cheese sauce
- Cauliflower, cannellini or butter beans or creamed corn all added a lovely creaminess to soups when blended up
- Natural yoghurt is a creamy and zingy alternative to sour cream in dressings and sauces
That big savoury flavour
Have you heard of umami? It's that delicious savoury, kinda meaty taste that we get from foods like roast meat, mushrooms, parmesan and cooked tomatoes. Amp it up in your winter dishes with these tricks.
- Roasted eggplant adds creamy texture and a rich savoury taste to casseroles and stews. Prick the eggplant all-over with a fork and roast in a hot oven for an hour or until collapsed
- When using a slow cooker, spend some time browning the onions, meat and mushrooms in a pan or the oven first. It's an extra step, but will make a much tastier dish
- Use a smaller amount of a funkier cheese. More flavour, less fat
- Use herbs and spices instead of salt. Rosemary and sage are especially lovely in slow cooked dishes
Eat more plants!
Only about 5% of Aussies are eating enough vegies - which is a real shame given the massive list of health benefits! While the fresh salads of summer aren't so appealing in winter, there still plenty of ways to get vegies into your day.
- Roast a huge tray of vegetables with a little olive oil and cracked pepper, and then keep them in the fridge to add to your meals all week. Roast vegie salads, roast vegie sandwiches, roast vegie soup, roast vegie pasta. It's all good!
- Soups are an excellent way to get a big vegie hit. We've got some winners over here, including our hearty lentil and sweet potato, seafood chowder and Asian noodle soup. You can also tweak your family favourites by throwing in a few extra serves of veg. Try adding a few extra carrots and beans to your minestrone, some frozen corn to your chicken soup and some zucchini to your pea and ham. Easy pea-sy!
- Making something with mince? Bulk it up with some canned lentils or beans. They're super cheap and will blend right in.
We've also got some delicious wintery desserts for the sweet tooths (teeth?).
What do our desserts have in common? They usually centre around a core food group - usually wholegrains, fruit or dairy. Our recipes also use warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and nutmeg. These amplify sweetness, so you can get away with using less sugar.
So there you have it! Our cool tips for healthy winter warmers. Check out the featured recipes and loads more over here. Happy cooking!