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Cozy Comfort Food Recipes You Can Actually Feel Good About Eating

Cozy up on a cold winter night with these healthy comfort food recipes

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Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

It’s no wonder that steaming stews and cozy casseroles are seasonal favourites. At this time of year, we all crave meals that will warm us up when the mercury dips. Your favourite winter comfort foods may often involve heavy meats, sauces and cheeses, but they don’t have to be calorie bombs. With the right ingredients, some can even rev up your metabolism. Abbey Sharp, registered dietitian and owner of Abbey’s Kitchen, shares her top five foods (and recipes!) to heat up your winter and boost your health.

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Spice up your life with a platter of Jamaican Jerk Chicken. In a food processor, pulse 1 to 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chili peppers (start with one and gradually add more until you reach desired heat), 4 chopped scallions, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tsp allspice, 1 tsp each lime zest and fresh grated ginger, juice of 1/2 lime, 11/2 tbsp each soy sauce, canola oil and dark rum, 2 tbsp brown sugar and a pinch each of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Purée until smooth, pour into a large resealable bag and add 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Let marinate in the fridge for 4 to 8 hours. Preheat oven to 400°F and bake on a greased foil-lined baking sheet, brushing every 10 to 15 minutes with any of the paste that falls off, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with a bowl of brown rice and steamed vegetables.

Why chili peppers are so healthy
We know they’re a low-cal way to add mucho flavour to meals, but chili peppers may help fire up weight loss by suppressing high-calorie cravings, too. Chili peppers get their kick from capsaicinoids and, according to one large meta-analysis, eating spicy foods that contain these pungent compounds can reduce cravings and calorie intake. Some studies suggest it would take a minimum of two milligrams of capsaicinoids to have a slimming effect, but if using more chili peppers means that you’re adding less salt, sugar and oils to your meals, then you’re already ahead of the game. (More on why spicy food is good for you here.) Bring on the fire!

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Vegetarian Chocolate Chili

Simmer your way to a bowl of belly-warming Vegetarian Chocolate Chili. Pulse 8 oz cremini mushrooms (stems removed) in a food processor until it resembles ground beef; set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet and sauté 1/2 diced onion, 2 stalks diced celery, 2 diced bell peppers, 4 cloves garlic and the minced mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 2 tsp each cumin and chili powder and 3/4 tsp cinnamon; stir until coated. Stir in 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 191/2 oz each red kidney beans and black beans, 1 (28 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes and 1 tbsp brown sugar; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in 11/2 oz finely chopped 80% dark chocolate. Season with salt and pepper, and top with cilantro, crumbled Cotija cheese and sliced radishes.

Why cacao is so healthy
We’ve heard that dark chocolate may be good for your heart, but snowbirds looking to warm up in the sun this winter will be grateful for its skin-protecting properties as well. Cacao products, like chocolate, are loaded with powerful antioxidants called flavonols. The higher the percentage of cacao, the greater the flavonol hit. While larger studies are still needed and you should certainly never skip your SPF, research suggests that consuming as little as 20 grams of high-quality dark chocolate every day may have photoprotective effects against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Whether you’re cozying up in the cold or soaking up a little vacation sun, it’s time to embrace the dark!

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Oatmeal Pancakes

Start your day off right with these high-protein, fibre-rich Oatmeal Pancakes. In a large bowl, mix together 11/2 cups each rolled oats and low-fat cottage cheese, whites from 2 eggs, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 13/4 tsp cinnamon, 21/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt. Pour 1/4-cup portions onto a lightly greased non-stick skillet over medium heat, adding 1 to 2 tbsp diced pears to the uncooked side of each pancake.

Flip once golden brown on one side and continue to cook on the remaining side until golden and cooked through. Try serving with sliced pears and yogurt or cottage cheese for a balanced breakfast.

Why oats are so healthy
Porridge is the perfect breakfast food because it keeps you feeling full until lunchtime, but there’s another benefit to oats: They pack 2.7 grams of total fibre per 1/3-cup serving, about half of which is the soluble variety that’s linked to heart health. Research has shown that getting three grams of soluble fibre (just over two servings of oatmeal) each day may help reduce total cholesterol by about two percent, slashing your risk of heart disease.

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Sweet Potato Ginger Soup

Sip and savour a comforting bowl of Sweet Potato Ginger Soup. In a large pot, sauté 1 minced onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until softened; add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger. Sauté for another 2 minutes on medium low; add 4 cups peeled and finely diced sweet potatoes, 2 peeled, cored and diced sweet apples and 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock. Simmer until tender before transferring to a blender and purée until smooth. Blend in 1 can light coconut milk and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve topped with diced apple, minced candied ginger and cilantro.

Why ginger is so healthy
With lofty fitness New Year’s resolutions, a lot of us may be feeling post-gym pain for days after a new workout. Ginger could be just the thing to soothe sore muscles because it’s loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that relieve aches and pains. Early research suggests that as little as two grams of ginger daily may help reduce muscle pain in the days following a killer workout. (There goes your excuse to skip the gym!)

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Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

This Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce will fill your kitchen with its sweet scent. Add 10 medium peeled, cored and diced apples, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 cup spiced apple cider, 11/2 tsp grated cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg to a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6 hours, then mash to desired consistency. Serve warm with Greek yogurt and toasted pecans.

Why cinnamon is so healthy
We know its rich aroma elicits fond memories of Grandma’s pies, but there are more benefits to this spice. Adding an extra sprinkle of cinnamon to your carb-heavy treats may help minimize blood sugar spikes. Research on healthy individuals has found that adding six grams (21/3 tsp) of cinnamon to dessert (or your morning latte) may help prolong satiety and improve glycemic control. Meanwhile, studies on individuals with diabetes and prediabetes have shown improvements in fasting blood glucose by adding as little as one gram (1/3 tsp) of cinnamon a day (though, of course, it should never be used instead of blood-sugar-stabilizing medication).

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