As the temperatures continue to cool and the days continue to shorten, our taste for good old fashioned comfort foods tends to increase. It’s natural to crave dishes that will warm us and fill us up during the winter months, but traditional comfort foods are often loaded with unhealthy fats, processed ingredients, and extra calories. So, for those who are managing chronic joint pain and therefore watching what they eat in order to reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy weight, comfort foods may seem like a less than ideal choice. But, according to our founder Robert Dean, M.D., it is possible to enjoy healthy comfort foods this season by simply rethinking traditional ingredients!
“When it comes to comfort foods, what we are really craving is flavor and warmth,” says Dr. Dean. “So, you don’t have to skip out on your favorite dishes altogether. By creating new recipes using healthier ingredients that are low in bad fats, high in lean protein, and high in whole, natural ingredients, you can still indulge while staying on track.”
So, roll up your sleeves, head into the kitchen, and get ready to whip up some seasonal favorites that are on the lighter side with Dr. Dean’s Favorite Healthy Comfort Foods!
Lighten Up Meatloaf with Turkey Instead of Beef
Meatloaf is an American tradition and one of the all-time most beloved comfort foods. When it comes to meatloaf, the key is consistency which in traditional recipes is achieved by combining ground beef with eggs, ketchup, and other spices. By simply swapping ground beef for lean ground turkey and reducing the amount of other ingredients, you can still achieve the flavor and consistency you want – but with less fat and fewer calories. Dr. Dean is a fan of this turkey meatloaf recipe from Skinnytaste.
Skip the Oil with Oven Fried Chicken
Chicken is one of Dr. Dean’s favorite lean proteins not only because it’s a healthy choice, but it can be prepared in so many ways! One of the most popular ways to enjoy chicken is fried which, while delicious, can leave you feeling bloated and blah after eating it due to all of the unhealthy fat from frying oil. So, how does Dr. Dean get his fried chicken fix without the guilt? By baking it in the oven and using healthier ingredients, like panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. And it’s easy to make! Check out this simple Oven Fried Chicken recipe from Delish (although Dr. Dean recommends skipping the dipping sauce to opt for something healthier or skipping it altogether).
Warm Up with Anti-Inflammatory Winter Soup
Nothing tastes better on a cold winter night than a hot bowl of hearty and creamy soup. But these types of soups are often heavy-cream based and loaded with other unhealthy ingredients that can increase inflammation. That’s why Dr. Dean loves creating homemade soups using coconut milk instead of heavy cream, which is high in healthy fats that can actually help lower bad cholesterol. And, by adding one of his all-time favorite ingredients, turmeric, you can help reduce inflammation as well. Try this fantastic recipe for “Winter Glow” soup with cauliflower, turmeric, and potato from Upbeet Kitchen.
Make Your Chili Vegetarian
Chili is an amazing go-to winter dish that’s perfect for daytime football, dinner, or a quick snack! To lighten up this popular dish, Dr. Dean loves going vegetarian and getting that traditional consistency from protein-rich black and pinto beans and lots of healthy veggies. Then, just add your favorite spices to achieve your preferred level of heat, and serve with whole-grain bread, avocado slices, or top with low-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Here’s a great recipe that’s easy to make from Cookie & Kate.
“I always say that balance is the key to a happy and healthy life,” says Dr. Dean. “With these healthier takes on classic comfort foods, you can still get the warmth and flavors you are craving while staying on track with your health and wellness goals. And the best part is you won’t feel like you are depriving yourself, which is so important for staying happy and positive throughout your wellness journey.”
Eating healthier is just one of the ways that you can help promote better joint health as you age. If you are living with knee, hip, or shoulder pain that is impacting your ability to enjoy your everyday life and stay on track with your goals, it may be time to set up a free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for AROmotion, a non-surgical procedure that he developed to stop joint pain fast with lasting results. Just fill out the form below to get started!
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