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Have Your
Comfort Foods
and Be Healthy Too!

As winter settles in and temperatures fall, curling up with a blanket and a hot bowl of our favorite “comfort food” sounds very appealing. Macaroni and cheese, creamy mashed potatoes and piping-hot chicken potpie help satisfy the body’s instinctual drive to stay toasty and conserve energy for the winter ahead! You can have your comfort foods and eat light too. Let’s explore how.

Don’t do without – modify what you like!
You don’t have to eliminate all the foods that give you comfort. In fact, experts agree it’s perfectly fine (even healthy) to indulge in your comfort food of choice – just don’t go bonkers. Check out alternatives to those usual calorie and fat-laden dishes (you’ll find lots of suggestions at, or just swap some ingredients for a lighter, healthier fare that’s still very satisfying. Here’s a tip on modifying perhaps the mother comfort food of all – macaroni and cheese (plus it’s a kid favorite any time of the year).

Macaroni and Cheese
When loaded with whole milk and five different cheeses, this creamy dish can pack close to 900 calories. Shave calories and fat from the sauce by using low-fat milk, tub butter, reduced-fat cheddar cheese and Parmesan. You can also cut back on cheese by adding pureed cauliflower to the sauce and add a little punch to the flavor with garlic powder and spices. Also, use whole wheat noodles for twice as much fiber.

Hearty and healthy kid-friendly snacks!
Since children have a relatively small stomach, eating enough calories at one sitting to last five hours until the next meal is not likely. Since about 20% of a child’s daily calories might be consumed in the form of a snack – it’s an important part of their diet. And just like adults, when the days get chilly, children may have a stronger urge to look for a “comfort snack”. Be a role model – if your child sees you eating fruits and vegetables, and limiting your sweets, they are more likely to engage in similar healthy practices. Here are some healthy snacking tips and recipe ideas for USAF FitFamily members.

Hot Chocolate
Even though hot chocolate may not come to mind when thinking of a healthy snack, there are ways to make this winter drink healthier. Use a sugar-free cocoa mix and fat-free or 1 percent milk. Cocoa provides antioxidants that help protect cells against damage, plus you’ll reap benefits from the calcium and vitamin D hot chocolate provides.

Fruits and Vegetables
Keep a variety of fruits and vegetables on hand. Get creative and combine veggies with a food your child likes such as celery and peanut butter, low-fat cheese melted on broccoli or carrots grated into oatmeal cookies.

Minimize preparation time for your favorite comfort foods!
Already active USAF FitFamily members can be further challenged during the winter months as the days grow shorter. Reducing preparation time in the kitchen is one way busy military families can get a jump on meal-making without giving up healthy foods. One-pot meals can save lots of time in the kitchen. Soups, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes all make excellent one-pot meals with a wide range of nutritional value. One-pot comfort food doesn’t have to be high in calories, check out for one-pot recipes all less than 400 calories per serving.

Invite family and friends to use for healthy winter solutions
USAF FitFamily offers service members and their families a wealth of resources and information on proper nutrition, sports and fitness, games, educational projects, weight loss and a host of other tips and ideas to keep a family fit. With a busy military lifestyle in mind, it’s easy to use and supports members every step of the way – check it out at


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