6 Slimming Cold-Weather Foods

As the season changes, you may be ready for stick-to-your-ribs stew, thick soups, hot drinks and heavier meals. But you might be concerned about how they will affect your weight. Thankfully, it’s easy to find cold-weather foods big on flavor and low in calories. Registered dietitian and author Lisa Stollman shares some of her tried-and-true tips to help you enjoy your favorite foods without guilt.

1. Soup up your diet.

Craving creamy, thick soups? There are plenty of ways to enjoy them while cutting calories and fat. Stollman recommends trimming down soups by adding lower-calorie veggies. For example, add carrots to a starchy butternut squash soup. Trim the fat on cream-based soups by swapping heavy creams and full-fat milk for non-fat creamers or almond milk. Add more veggies to the pot to amp up the fiber and health quotient.

2. Mash cauliflower, not potatoes.

This healthy veggie swap will save you calories and carbs. Simply steam cauliflower, then add the cooked veggie in the blender or food processor with a tablespoon of butter or olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs like sage, curry, rosemary or sautéed garlic. Puree until the consistency is to your liking; pour in some vegetable broth to thin it and add flavor.

3. Swap pasta for spaghetti squash.

Slice a large squash in half, place it on a baking sheet, cut side up. Place it in the oven and cook at 375 F for 40 minutes, or until a fork punctures the flesh of the squash easily. Then use a fork and scrape the stringy squash out so it looks like spaghetti. Add pesto, olive oil, or tomato sauce, and sautéed vegetables. Stollman recommends adding veggies to sauces to increase the fiber and nutrients of the dish.

4. Bake your fruit.

Eating warm fruit is a satiating option when you’re craving buttery fruit pies. Bake slice apples or pears in the microwave for 5 minutes on high heat, or grill sliced fruit in a grill pan or outside on the grill. Top them with cinnamon or nutmeg, and pair with non-fat vanilla yogurt and a nutrient-rich, high-fiber cereal.

5. Swap sweet drinks for flavored teas.

Make a healthier version of hot chocolate by using water or fat-free milk. Save calories from hot apple cider drinks -- most of which come from the sugar -- by diluting them with water and sweetening them with a no- or low-calorie sweetener. Stollman says some apple ciders are the equivalent of eating three apples! Save more calories on this soothing beverage by swapping the cider for apple cinnamon tea (or hot chocolate for chocolate-flavored teas). They’ll taste sweet from the cloves and spices, and you even have the option of adding a bit of sweetener and/or milk.

6. Think like a vegetarian.

Planning for more vegetarian meals means you’ll be cutting down on calories and fat. Use beans instead of meat in chili dishes and sauces, eat veggie burgers, and add greens, like kale and Swiss chard, to soups and sauces. “Add non-starchy veggies to starchy veggie dishes to lower the calories,” says Stollman, “and vegetable broth to add flavor for almost no calories.”