What to eat when it’s cold out and all you want is carbs!
The temperature is well below freezing (or, depending on where you live in Canada, it’s been raining for several weeks) and you just got home from work. All you can think about is a big bowl of mashed potatoes or that bag of crackers you have hidden away in your pantry. The next time you find yourself in this situation, take the time to make a few simple adjustments before giving in to your carb cravings. You’ll get all the satisfaction of eating a carb-based meal or snack, but you’ll also walk away feeling nourished, satiated, and most importantly, comforted.
SmartPoints value per ½ cup, cooked
Whether you like them mashed, roasted or fried, there’s something wonderful and comforting about a big bowl of potatoes. It’s important to note that, despite their reputation, potatoes aren’t inherently unhealthy — eaten in their jackets they’re a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, and potassium. Potatoes have become vilified due to the manner in which they’re prepared, with many recipes calling for the use of oil, butter, cream, and salt. Rethink your potato prep and cut down on SmartPoints while satisfying your carb cravings.
- When making mashed potatoes, boil or steam the potatoes using vegetable or chicken stock. This will infuse the potatoes with plenty of flavour so that you’ll only need a small drizzle of olive oil or melted butter in the finished dish. Try adding non-fat Greek yogourt (a ZeroPointTM food on Blue and Purple) in place of the milk, cream or sour cream — it’s higher in protein, which means you’ll stay satiated for longer.
- If you’re intrigued by the idea of mashed cauliflower but are unsure about the execution and actual taste, try mashing together a mixture of potatoes and cauliflower. You can also use this technique with other root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and rutabaga.
- Serve baked potatoes with healthy toppings such as leftover chili, steamed or roasted vegetables, Greek yogourt or hummus.
SmartPoints value per 1 cup, cooked
Purple: 5 (on Purple, whole wheat pasta is a ZeroPoint food, so try whole wheat instead of white!)
It’s difficult to think of any other comfort food with as much universal draw as pasta, noodles or small dumplings such as gnocchi. Covered in sauce, floating in a bowl of piping hot ramen broth or simply tossed with cheese and butter or olive oil, the ways in which noodles can be enjoyed is near endless. Thanks to the invention of the spiralizer, home cooks are turning everything from zucchini to butternut squash to beets into “noodles.” However, any fan of pasta will admit that just because they look the same, doesn’t mean that they taste the same (or give the same amount of satisfaction as a perfectly al dente piece of pasta.)
- If you’re intrigued by the idea of vegetable noodles try mixing them with regular pasta using a 1:1 ration. You’ll still be able to savour the comfort of traditional pasta but with a lower SmartPoints value and the added nutrition from the veggies.
- Experiment with pasta made from alternative grains. Some pasta in this category, such as pasta made from quinoa, contains significantly more protein so you’ll stay fuller, longer (and are ZeroPoint foods on Purple). Other pasta and noodles to try include those made from buckwheat (soba noodles, which are delicious either hot or cold), sprouted grain noodles and brown rice noodles.
- Try using whole grains and grain-like seeds in place of pasta: quinoa, barley, oats, farro and millet have impressive nutritional benefits and a satisfyingly chewy mouthfeel (whole grains are a ZeroPoint food on Purple!).
SmartPoints value per 1 slice of white bread
Good bread is the ultimate comfort food, especially when it has a crisp crust, a pillowy-soft centre and is served with a pat of creamy butter or a piece of your favourite cheese. If bread is your “happy food” there’s no reason to eliminate it from your diet - on WW all foods are on the menu!
- Look for whole grain bread instead of whole wheat bread whenever possible. Whole grain bread, unlike whole wheat bread, contains the entire kernel of the grain — and all of the beneficial nutrients found within.
- Get creative with toast toppings containing protein and healthy fats! Mashed avocado, poached or soft-boiled eggs, hummus, refried beans and small portions of nut and seed butters are especially tasty.
Chips and crackers
SmartPoints values vary by brand. Check your WW app for more details.
There are few things more gratifying than the crunch of a chip or cracker, especially when they’re accompanied by a good movie or TV show. Unfortunately, chips and crackers are notoriously conducive to mindless eating. Who hasn’t looked down at one point only to realize the entire bag is mysteriously gone? The trick to better snacking with chips and crackers is simple: be aware of serving sizes (and stick to single serving) while giving yourself the option to pair them with salsa, hummus and other healthy dips.
- Try substituting chips with baked pretzels (or creating a mix of the two.) You’ll still get the satisfying crunch and salty taste without having to worry about the extra oil.
- Purchase or make your own vegetable chips — no dehydrator necessary! Kale, jicama, carrots, sweet potatoes, and hardy squash can be thinly sliced and cooked in a low oven with a drizzle of olive oil and your favourite seasonings.
- Choose air-popped popcorn (a ZeroPoint food on Purple!) in lieu of chips and toss with any of the following toppings: finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, crumbled seaweed, red chili flakes, nutritional yeast, a small drizzle of truffle oil or a pinch of truffle salt.