Winter seems like the perfect time to sit back, relax and indulge in copious amounts of tasty foods. On average, people tend to gain between 2kg and 3kg during the winter months, WedMD reports.
Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you have to stuff your face with unhealthy snacks. In fact, there are plenty of ‘yummy’ foods that won’t wreak havoc on your health. Don’t know where to start? Leading nutritionist Dr Gina Cleo has shared her top healthy foodie tips for those wanting to make the switch.
“During the cooler months, it’s easy to reach for comforting food,” Cleo says. “Foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugar release glucose straight to our brain giving us an instant feeling of happiness. Eating also helps to warm our body up, so we tend to want to eat more during the cooler months.”
Yet before you get started, Cleo says it’s important to set up your pantry first. This means incorporating easy-to-reach, healthy choices like apples or some sourdough bread and hummus.
“When it comes to trying to stick to our usual snacking habits or trying to implement healthier ones, it’s key to ensure that they’re always front of mind and easily accessible,” she says. “And just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean we have to leave our fresh snacks to the summer months.”
If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, Cleo recommends whipping up some delicious fruit muffins to keep on-hand throughout the week. You can incorporate any fruit you have lying around at home, like blueberries, banana or strawberries. One of our favourites is strawberry and rhubarb, and you can find the recipe here.
Muffins should last two to seven days at room temperature, but if you’d like them to last even longer, pop them in the freezer.
“Use wholemeal flour and plenty of your favourite fruit to create a nourishing, high-fibre snack,” Cleo says.
While we’re on the fruit talk, Cleo also recommends making a delicious apple sauce at the beginning of each week. “One of the easiest spreads to make is apple sauce,” she says. All you have to do is boil some apple slices until they’re soft, stir in some lemon rind and voila!
She says apple sauce works great spread on toast with nut butter or even added to your favourite roast — yum! “It’s even more delicious when served warm.”
Another snack that Cleo loves in the cooler months is some warm sourdough flatbread with hummus (or any other dip of your preference). Chickpeas are packed with fibre and are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, not to mention, they’re also a good source of protein, so they’ll keep you feeling full for longer. You can find tips on how to make hummus at home here.
On the days you’re feeling a bit more peckish, Cleo recommends whipping out your jaffle or sandwich maker and crafting a delicious ricotta and spinach toastie. If you don’t own a sandwich press, you can do it on the fry pan — just don’t overdo the butter!
“Ricotta cheese is high in protein so it keeps you fuller longer and the list of health benefits for spinach is endless,” she says.
In fact, spinach is known to aid in good bone health, promote weight loss, and even prevent premature ageing. A 2014 study published in the online journal Appetite found spinach could stave off hunger and increase weight loss.
For something a little bit fun, Cleo says to give cauliflower popcorn a go. Simply coat cauliflower florets in almond meal and your favourite spices, and bake in the oven until they’re golden brown. Cleo says cauliflower is a great source of antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of many diseases.
Finally, Cleo reckons warmed spiced nuts are the perfect go-to snack during the cooler months. “Nuts help to lower cholesterol and are high in fibre and protein,” she says. Read more about nut’s amazing health benefits here.
To make your own variety, Cleo suggests mixing some almonds, pecans, cashews and Brazil nuts together with smoked paprika, ground coriander, cumin, maple syrup and olive oil.
“Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden and crisp,” she says. “They can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.”