8 Tips to "Healthify" Cozy Meals

As the mercury lowers, we all crave warm, stick-to-your-ribs meals. Mac and cheese, saucy noodles, chunky stews--they all foot the bill of comfort. Despite their popularity, these meals are often caloric bombs--full of calories that offer little nourishment.

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That doesn't mean you have to stop eating them, however.

These kinds of meals-curries, noodle dishes, soups and stews--can still rotate into your weekly meal plan, and you can feel good about serving them. All it takes is a new mindset and a few tweaks to amp up the nourishment in your favorite meals.
  1. Invest in a spiralizer. A spiralizer is a unique kitchen appliance that can turn your favorite fruits and vegetables into noodles (think zucchini, apple, potato, etc.). These noodles can then be easily substituted into your favorite recipes. While they don't strictly replace pasta, they're great at getting more nutrients into one meal.
  2. Reduce the cheese. Many recipes call for a lot of cheese, so try simply reducing the amount used. To boost health benefits, purchase cheeses made from organic milk (if it's available to you).
  3. Or, make your own non-cheese cheese sauce. Yes, that's a thing. Using a high-speed blender, you can make flavorful cream sauces using ingredients like white beans, soaked cashews, non-dairy milk or steamed cauliflower. (I've even seen queso made from eggplant.)
  4. Sneak in more greens. Greens like kale, spinach or arugula are incredibly versatile. They can easily be added to stews, soups and curries just before serving. Or, you can always add a bed of greens underneath your warm meal. The heat of your meal with naturally wilt your greens. 
  5. Stuff it full of veggies. This should come as no surprise, but add in extra vegetables into your favorite cozy recipes. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers and sweet potato are all great additions to curry. Vegetable soups can be made with any veggies--the more the merrier! (And of course, opt for organic if possible.)
  6. Blend to create a natural thickener. We are drawn to these meals because not only are they comforting, they're thick and delicious. Thickeners like milk or flour usually get the job done, but you can try pureeing about 1/3 of your soup in a high-speed blender--before you add more tender vegetables like greens, peas or corn. Return the puree back into the soup and stir. 
  7. Use real butter. If you're going to use butter, use high-quality butter or ghee made from happy cows. Friends don't let friends use margarine--an extremely processed food made with hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  8. Use warming spices. If you're feeling cold, add more warming spices to your recipes. Cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cloves, cumin and more offer a host of benefits. Including adding a natural warming sensation in the body, these spices have anti-inflammatory benefits and hare full of anti-oxidants. 
Want more cozy meal ideas? Check out these recipes!

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