Lighten Up Your Favorite Comfort Foods This Season Written by Canadian Lentils Dietitian Gloria Tsang, RD The holiday season is often the time when some people put on weight. It can mean 1 to 2 pounds or even more. This year, you can completely skip the weight gain portion and still choose to eat all the goodies that make the holiday season joyous and fun. Here are some tips to help you do just that. 4 Comfort Foods To Get a Makeover 1. Soup Cold days are perfect for making soup. The best thing about soup, is that you don’t always need a recipe to put together a nutritious bowl! And broth-based soups are not heavy to begin with. If you have never tried this Lentil Lemon Soup, then here is your chance. It’s simply delicious! If you prefer creamier soups without adding cream, simply add two cups of steamed veggies that have been pureed. Veggies that work well in puree include squash, pumpkin, cauliflower, and even corn. The result is a creamier broth so you won’t even miss the cream, plus you get the added bonus of eating more veggies. 2. Chili This is one of the easiest dishes to lighten up. The fact that chili is flavored with spices, removing fat can easily go unnoticed. Consider switching from ground beef to ground turkey; this simple move saves 300 calories per pound of meat! In addition, you can also use your favorite recipe and simply cut half of the meat and substitute with lentils, kidney beans, and tomatoes. Also, sweet potatoes or butternut squash will help make for a rich and thick chili. And if you don’t have a favorite chili recipe, here is a Lentil Chili that is sure to please. 3. Lasagna The only thing better than a good lasagna is one that is even more nutritious! With meat, cheese, and pasta, a serving of traditional lasagna can climb as high as 1000 calories per serving. One way to lighten up this comfort food is to replace pasta sheets with eggplant or zucchini slices. Another way to lighten it up is to cut down the ground beef used, by using half beef with half red lentils, and mixed with sautéed mushroom. Try this freshly baked Lentil Lasagna recipe by Chef Michael Smith! 4. Mac & Cheese What’s not to love? This comfort food can easily be lightened up by making a veggie-filled version. A high fiber mac ‘n cheese will fill you up without using a ton of cheese and cream. Start with whole wheat pasta and make your own sauce. Then just add in leftover or even frozen veggies. If you absolutely dislike veggies in your mac ‘n cheese, then you can use 1% milk, a tablespoon of flour and a handful of cheese. Alternately, look for recipes that use Greek yogurt as it provides creaminess without too much fat. This holiday season, make these simple adjustments to heavy foods and keep your waistline at bay. It’s that simple.