Healthy Winter Comfort Food Tips

eing in the heart of winter, we change the food we eat. Instead of salads and light dishes, we want more warming, comforting food such as soups, hearty casseroles and creamy mash. And then we add our winter kilos. Sound familiar? The good news is we can learn the tricks to have our comfort food and eat it, too.

When choosing foods keep in mind foods which are the most satisfying.

Foods that satisfy

Research has shown protein is more satisfying than carbohydrate or fat, both at the mealtime and over the next few hours. So include protein foods with each meal.

  • Eggs are satisfying at any time of the day, whether they’re poached at breakfast; scrambled at lunch; or as an omelette for dinner.
  • An Australian study found fish is more satisfying than beef or chicken. Canned fish is an easy way to include a satisfying protein at lunch – and boost your omega-3 at the same time.
  • Low-fat milk or low-fat yoghurt with your cereal or smoothie at breakfast helps keep you going – they are also satisfying snacks.

Researchers have found that while a high-fibre meal doesn’t necessarily affect how much we eat straight away, it does seem to reduce how much we eat at the next meal because we’re not as hungry.

  • Add a high-fibre cereal to your breakfast regime – mix it with your current cereal if you prefer.
  • Use whole grain breads, rice and pasta.
  • Add chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, cannellini beans or other legumes to salads and stews.
  • Use hummus on bread or crackers.
Low kJ veggies

Low-energy vegetables help us stop eating because the weight of food influences how much we eat and how full we feel. The water and fibre in these vegetables add weight, so we fill up for fewer kilojoules. Bulk up meals and snacks with low-energy vegetables.

  • Snack on baby carrots, sliced capsicum, cherry tomatoes and other small or sliced vegetables. Dip in hummus to make them even more satisfying.
  • We have an abundance of colourful, tasty, low-energy vegetables to choose from such as broccoli, beans, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, cucumber, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms, rhubarb, salad greens, silver beet, spinach, snow peas, spring onion, turnip…
Good fats

We all need some fat in our diet, but for women it’s been found that unsaturated fats stimulate a hormone which helps us feel full for longer. You don’t need to go overboard though – it’s the same hormone (cholecystokinin) which fibre stimulates.

  • Add small amounts of seeds and nuts to your meals or snacks.
  • Drizzle a little canola, olive, or rice bran oil over salads or vegetables.
Low-GI foods

High-glycaemic index (GI) foods give a sharp peak to our blood glucose, and the trough afterwards triggers hunger. Foods with a lower GI are digested more slowly and give a more steady release of glucose into the blood stream, so they don’t trigger hunger in the same way. Lower-GI foods include milk and yoghurt, whole grain cereals and breads, legumes and most vegetables.

Slow cooker spicy carrot and pumpkin soup

Serves: 6

Time to make: 6 Hours


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 fat cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut in chunks
  • 4 generous cups pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 pinch ground chilli
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
  • pepper a good grind
  • vegetable stock 3 cups
  • water 1 additional cup
  • fresh mint a handful, chopped (optional)


Step 1: In a large pan heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened. Add the prepared vegetables and the flour and mix as well as you can, allowing the flour to absorb the oniony oil.

Step 2: Put the whole lot into the slow cooker. Add the spices, salt, pepper, stock and water and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Step 3: When the vegetables are tender, purée or process the soup until smooth and return to the slow cooker to keep warm.

Step 4: Adjust the consistency to suit your personal taste; I like it thick with a little lite sour cream and some chopped mint. It’s also good thinned with a little coconut cream and garnished with coriander.

Lentil and ginger stew

Serves: 4

Time to make: 35 mins


  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 x 400g cans lentils, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • large handful baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander


Step 1: Cook rice following packet directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and carrots and cook for 10 minutes to soften slightly. Add ginger and lentils. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add stock and coconut milk. Cover and bring to the boil.

Step 2: Remove half the mixture and use a stick blender or food processor to blend. Return blended mixture to pan then stir in spinach. Divide among four bowls and scatter over almonds and coriander. Serve.

  • Add crushed garlic to the pan with the ginger.
  • Replace coconut milk with the same quantity of trim milk and add an extra spoonful of sliced almonds.

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