February’s Blog – by Rachael

Winter Blues – Comfort Food Doesn’t Have to Mean Unhealthy

We are now approaching our second month of winter and with it, the refusal of the mercury to budge above zero. Despite our best intentions from New Year’s Resolutions, we are all craving our homemade favourites to warm us up and boost our spirits.

However, some of these favourites, while incredibly yummy, aren’t delivering us the ideal ratio of macronutrients. We could reduce the portion and serve with a healthier side or we can change the recipes themselves! That’s why this month’s blog is about tackling common nutrition issues with the foods we already love with simple ingredient swaps and thinking outside of the (pizza) box!


Nutrition Issue: I am trying to decrease my intake of refined carbohydrates (white potatoes, white pasta, white flour, etc.). What can I do?

For Shepherd’s Pie:

  • Try substituting some, or all, of the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower

For Macaroni and Cheese or Pasta dishes:

  • Try out a new noodle! Zucchini noodles are very low in carbohydrates but they are not alone. There are plenty of bean- and legume-based noodles that are lower in carbohydrates while delivering an extra protein punch.
  • Start treating pasta dishes like a stir-fry by reducing the pasta and increasing the veggies

For Pizza:

  • Try alternatives to traditional pizza crust like cauliflower or legume-based crusts


Nutrition Issue: I am trying to increase my fibre and vegetable intake, what can I do?

For chili or shepherd’s pie:

  • Try substituting lentils for ground beef, or doing 50/50.
  • Add or double up on carrots, stewed tomatoes, chopped spinach, broccoli and sneak them into the sauce

For Macaroni and Cheese, Pasta dishes, and Noodle soups:

  • Substitute whole grain, bean-based, or buckwheat noodles for white pasta when possible for an added fibre punch
  • Add in finely chopped spinach, kale, broccoli, or tomatoes – or whatever vegetables you like!


Nutrition Issue: I am trying to decrease my saturated fat intake, what can I do?

For Macaroni and Cheese or Pasta sauces

  • Substitute blended cottage cheese for some of the cheddar for a creamy lower fat, higher protein alternative

For Curries and Soups

  • Reduce cream and coconut cream, or substitute partially with 2% milk or a non-dairy milk alternative



Life isn’t black and white so why are we treating food this way? Enjoy in moderation and remember, comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy!



Rachael is an intern that will be with Heart Niagara for the coming months. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the University of Guelph majoring in Applied Human Nutrition, and is currently completing a graduate certificate in Exercise Science for Health and Performance at Niagara College while pursuing an internship and career in dietetics.
Using her past and current education she will be making suggestions for healthy lifestyle changes, recipe improvements, discussing the importance of vitamins and minerals, as well as common fads (and how they can be harmful). She will also be touching on topics in the world of exercise science, as well as dispelling myths in that field.
DISCLAIMER – Registered Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals in Canada that are regulated by a governing body. Rachael is a student and not a Registered Dietitian. Materials and more information can be found at the Dietitians of Canada website. Persons with inquiries regarding personal nutrition issues should be consult their local dietitian.
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