Top alternate recipes for fatty winter comfort foods

Published: 28 June 2017


If there’s one season that can be your body’s greatest ally and at the same time it’s biggest enemy, it’s Winter.

While it provides us with the opportunity to hide any excess weight under layers of bulky clothes, the cold weather also leads to the mass consumption of comfort foods, which leave us with a nasty shock come spring when the coats come off.  

Why most of us lose the weight war and pack on the kilos over the colder months is because on those windy winter days, the body craves more calories. When this happens there’s never been anything more satisfying then a good Pork Belly, Bangers and Mash, Chocolate Pudding, or a raft of other high fat, high sugar treats.

Until now.

Thankfully, instead of the old method of just denying anything tasty, Weight Watchers have now embraced comfort foods, and have come up with some indulgent ideas that are as equally satisfying as all your old favourites.

Weight watchers have revealed their “best kept secret” named the No Count Option, designed as a solution to those who want to keep healthy and in shape but don’t want to count the points.

To demonstrate this the weight loss company recently held the World’s biggest Degustation in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens and served up 210 meals across a 12-hour period.

Developed by nutrition experts at Weight Watchers and Head Chef of the Botanic Gardens Restaurant Matthew Fletcher, the ingredients included lean meats, seafood, low fat dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Chef Matthew Fletcher thought he was in for a challenge when he was first asked to create The World’s Biggest Degustation from a select list of healthy and nutritious foods.

“210 courses from a select ingredient list, served to 120 people over 12 hours is no mean feat. But when Weight Watchers presented the No Count foods list, I was genuinely surprised by the variety. From abalone to asparagus, there are so many options to choose from, it gave me plenty of inspiration and license to create the ‘World’s Biggest’ menu,” he said.

Accredited dietician and director of Program and Content at Weight Watchers, Dr Michelle Celander says there is a common misconception that weight watchers is only about counting points.

“Because we know there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to health, The No Count option is designed for anyone wanting to successfully lose weight and improve their health, without having to count everything that they eat or drink,” Dr Celander said.

“The No Count option encourages you to listen to your body, letting your hunger and fullness signals guide you to eat until you are satisfied. It’s all about eating delicious foods that are full of flavour, fuel your body and fill you up, which will teach you the right portions for your body,” she said.

Here are some of the winter warming alternatives you can choose to prevent the dreaded winter bulge:

1.   1. SWAP: Macaroni and cheese - FOR: Homemade baked beans with pumpkin mash and a sprinkle of mixed herbs


Why? There’s something about the warm carbohydrates and gooey cheese that screams comfort. But by swapping to homemade baked beans with roasted pumpkin, you’ll still get that comforting hit but with significant advantages. Stick to low-GI baked beans and you won’t be opening the fridge again an hour later.

Expert tip: Stock up your pantry with canned and dried legumes.

2.   2. SWAP: Bread and butter pudding - FOR: Vanilla poached pears


Why? Do you love whipping up a warm winter dessert? Don’t skip it altogether, just make the switch to poached, baked or roasted fruit. Aromatics such as vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg add spice and make everything nice – not to mention a good dose of antioxidant activity. Seasonal winter foods include custard apple, grapefruit, green and gold kiwifruit, lemon, lime, quince and rhubarb.

Expert tip: Buy individual oven and microwave-safe ramekins to portion control your cooked fruit dessert servings.

3.   3. SWAP: Bolognaise - FOR: Lentil-aise


Why? Substitute red meat in your bolognaise, curry or casserole with legumes such as chickpeas, red kidney beans or lentils. Not only is this good for your weight loss, but it makes good sense for your household food budget too! Legumes are a cost-effective source of protein, low-GI and have resistant starch to promote optimal levels of good bacteria in the gut for an immunity boost.

Expert tip: Get the slow cooker out in the winter months!

 4. SWAP: Cauliflower and white sauce - FOR: Roasted spiced cauliflower and broccoli


Why? Add green cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussel sprouts to your menu for their protective compounds. When it comes to spices, a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that turmeric, can cause a modest but measurable increase in levels of a protein important in the immune system and may help prevent infection.

Expert tip: Discard and replace any out-of-date spices so you always have great flavour to add to dishes.

 5. SWAP: A swirl of cream in soup - FOR: A dollop of low-fat yoghurt


Why? With probiotic live bacteria cultures that boost immunity, it pays to use a good-quality, low-fat yoghurt in the place of cream or sour cream. Research by Dr Barbara Rolls from Pennsylvania State University shows eating a healthy soup before a main meal helps to lower the total kilojoule intake at that meal. Research also shows probiotics may help strengthen your gut defence and minimise risk of pathogens and nasties getting in.

Expert tip: Batch-cook soups and keep them frozen in portion-controlled containers to grab and go for a healthy lunch.

 6. SWAP: A meat pie - FOR: Beef and mushroom pot pie with sweet potato mash


Why? Slashing the amount of pastry and switching to a mash topping and the addition of mushrooms is so good for your health. While regular, indirect sun exposure is the best way to get your vitamin D you can also boost your intake through dietary sources such as mushrooms. Wild varieties and those pulsed with UV light are an excellent source of vitamin D, which helps to ward off any winter blues from lack of sunlight.

Expert tip: If you tend to feel bluer in the cooler months, chat to your GP about a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.