Healthwatch: Making comfort foods healthier

The cold weather brings out plenty of comfort food throughout the Black Hills but is there a way to make those treats a little healthier? Registered Dietician Cindy Gates has some tips for you.

What's better than a bowl of chili and a slice of apple crisp on a cold winter day? Comfort food can be very very high in calories, high in sugar, and refined carbs. We can make comfort foods very healthy by just a few small changes. Why should kids just eat mac and cheese? Mac and cheese could be a healthy option if we were to add canned pumpkin with less cheese and less milk. Canned pumpkin would make it higher in potassium and higher in vitamin A and fiber. Meatloaf everyone loves meatloaf but it doesn't have the best nutritional profile so to make a healthier meatloaf we can add turkey, bison, or lean grass-fed beef to make a healthier meatloaf, and we can always add more vegetables. Studies often show people think apple crisp is a heart-healthy food because it has apples. Apple crisp may not always be heart healthy. Just because it has fruit it still contains a lot of fiber, sugar, and refined carbs. So why not take an apple roast it with some cinnamon and some lemon juice and if you want something creamy on top use greek yogurt instead of ice cream. Creamy mashed potatoes everyone loves mashed potatoes. But the latest thing to have is mashed cauliflower, steam it and add some fat-free sour cream or yogurt, maybe some fat-free broth to get a high tasting snack idea. Pumpkin bread and banana bread brings you back to your grandma baking so if you want to have pumpkin bread or banana bread add some zucchini to it or some flax seeds to change the nutritional profile. Pizza that's about the most comfort food but you don't have to have a cauliflower crust to make it healthy. Just add a lot more vegetables to it. And be careful with meat you add, one piece of pepperoni has 2 grams of fat. So you can have your comfort food and eat it too. And not have tight pants, I'm Cindy Gates dietician at Regional Health