Winter Comfort Food Made Easy (and Healthy)

Shepherd's Pie
Print icon
By Angela Frankland
Registered Dietitian

With the temperatures dipping and the leaves fallen, many of us will soon turn to comfort food to help us make it through the winter months. After all, there’s nothing like a big plate of mom’s pot roast and mashed potatoes to help you fight the post holiday doldrums. If you’re trying to keep the winter weight off, traditional comfort food can be your worst enemy.

The good news is that with some easy and inexpensive modifications you can still enjoy some of the old standards without gaining the extra winter weight.

Meatloaf and Shepard’s pie are quick and easy dinners, especially for families on the run.  These can be made much healthier if you substitute high fat beef with ground chicken or ground turkey.  Strive for using 93 percent lean meat, if you can.

If you still need your beef fix, try grass-fed beef like bison. Bison is very lean, fairly inexpensive and has a good amount of Omega 3 fatty acids that have many health benefits, including helping to fight depression and reducing the risks of heart disease.  Also, you can substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes to reduce your carb intake.

You probably would think that macaroni and cheese — the king of all comfort foods — is off limits.  Not so fast.  There is some great vegetable pasta available today made from lentils and chick peas that can help you cut the carbs without scarifying taste.  Also, use low-fat cheese and skim milk to reduce the fat content.

As always with any meal selection, portion size is key.  Use the “plate method”:  Half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or asparagus, one-quarter should be a lean protein and one-quarter should be a healthy starch like brown rice or sweet potatoes.

If you follow these easy steps, you can still indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods while keeping off the winter weight.

Angela Frankland is a registered dietitian at Windham Hospital.


What's New

Wallingford Endoscopy Center Opens

Endoscopy Center Opens in Wallingford

The Wallingford Endoscopy Center, an 8,533- square-foot space dedicated to gastroenterology procedures, has opened in Wallingford. The center, a joint venture between Hartford HealthCare, Connecticut GI and MidState Gastroenterology Specialists, offers upper endoscopies and colonoscopies in the new facility. “Patients in need of gastrointestinal procedures will find the best care...


What is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

A new inpatient rehabilitation unit opened at Hartford Hospital recently. It’s a 26-bed unit that specializes in physical, occupational and speech therapy for patients who have suffered a major illness or injury. Dr. Maria Tsarouhas of the Hartford Hospital In-Patient Rehabilitation Unit has details on what that means.  Q: This unit opened...

Apple Watch and AFib

Why Heart Patients Shouldn’t Use Apple Watch to Detect AFib

Seems that the Apple smartwatch can do it all – check email, send an SOS, connect to your car, get directions, open your garage door and order a pizza — but checking your heartbeat for atrial fibrillation might not make sense. Dr. Steven Zweibel, director of electrophysiology at the Hartford...


Hartford HealthCare Increases Minimum Hourly Rate to $15

More than 2,400 employees to benefit from increase, effective March 31 Hartford HealthCare today (Monday, 1/14) announced it will increase its minimum hourly rate to $15, effective March 31, 2019. The new pay rate will directly benefit more than 2,400 of Hartford HealthCare’s approximately 20,000 employees throughout Connecticut. These employees...

GoHealth interior.

Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care Center Opens in Torrington

Newly constructed Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care center will replace Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s former urgent care walk-in center, less than a mile away. GoHealth Urgent Care, one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing urgent care companies, together with its partner Hartford HealthCare, Connecticut’s most comprehensive healthcare network and an affiliate of...


Why Does My Neck Hurt? (It Could Be a Pinched Nerve)

When is neck pain a serious issue? When it’s a pinched nerve, according to Dr. Joel Bauman, chief of neurosurgery at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center. Q: What is a pinched nerve? A: A pinched nerve is when there is an injury, usually in the disk, which...

Prostate Cancer Relationships

ED, Incontinence After Prostate Surgery: What Can a Partner Do?

This is the first of a two-part series on the effects of prostate cancer on relationships. Ask any prostate cancer survivor and he’ll tell you there’s no price he wouldn’t pay to be cancer-free. Let’s start with the surest way to cure prostate cancer when the disease hasn’t spread: Removal...