(ARA) – The arrival of the cooler weather means different things to many different people – football season, the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, hot chocolate, snuggly sweaters and a vast array of festive flavors that reinvigorate cooking and baking routines.
Surprisingly, these seasonal comfort foods don’t have to wreak havoc on your waistline. Many of this season’s hottest flavors are naturally low in calories, and even offer essential vitamins, minerals and fiber to help you take small steps towards healthier eating while enjoying the foods you love.
“Many Americans face the challenges of eating healthy all year, but maintaining motivation during the winter months is particularly hard,” says Hope Warshaw, registered dietitian and author of “Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy,” published by the American Diabetes Association. “My clients are always asking about simple ways to stay on track. I recommend making small changes to existing routines – such as cooking and baking with a fiber-enhanced product like SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener Granulated with Fiber - as an easy way to watch your daily fiber intake add up, gram-by-gram.”
Warshaw also recommends taking smart shortcuts, wherever possible, and incorporating high-nutrient ingredients into your favorite seasonal dishes. With the right knowledge, cooking and baking with a little boost of fiber has never been easier.
As the ‘star’ in many holiday baked goods such as pies, muffins, breads and more, pumpkin is definitely one of the season’s most delicious and nutritious flavors. Give your favorite pumpkin recipe a fiber boost by ditching the sugar and baking with SPLENDA with Fiber, Granulated, a no-calorie sweetener for foods and beverages with three grams of fiber per tablespoon. “With this product, you get a two-for-one bonus—more fiber with less added sugars,” says Warshaw.
Nothing signals the arrival of sweater-season like a bowl of chili that warms you from the inside out. Give your chili a fiber makeover by opting for kidney and black beans and tossing in some fiber-rich Swiss chard. Cut calories by skipping the meat or using lean turkey and give your dish an added twist by adding butternut squash and lightly garnishing with pine nuts. The end result: a dish that will keep you full and satisfied all day.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This saying has never rung more true – the apple and its skin are among nature’s fruits that are highest in fiber. Skip the season’s candy apples that line grocery store shelves and go for some homemade baked apples instead. Cut down on added sugars by baking your cored apples in a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and all-natural apple juice. Who said satisfying your sweet tooth couldn’t be healthy?
Great as a salad-topper, in trail and snack mixes, or simply enjoyed on their own, dried fruits can be sweet and natural treats with health benefits. Rich in antioxidants, dried cranberries are a great source of vitamins and fiber. Pair the festive cranberry with the fiber-rich almond for a simple snack that will double as brain food and help you stay full and focused in between meals.
A classic in seasonal casseroles, pies and soups, sweet potatoes are on the top of the list when it comes to great-tasting and versatile fiber-rich vegetables. Slice up and drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt to serve mouthwatering, homemade French fries, or bake in a low-fat casserole to enjoy an easy and delicious treat with some serious health benefits.