Comfort Food When It’s Cold Outside

Nutrition Advice from your Pawling Hannaford Dietitian

No doubt, the weather outside is frightful. If a day indoors has you craving comfort food, then you’re not alone. Whether your perfect winter weather day is spent cooking in the kitchen or stalking the pantry for the latest items you stocked up on, then this time of year presents unique challenges. Since most of us probably fall into both categories, we need ideas for tasty (but healthy) comfort food we can cook and shop for.

Comforting Casseroles

This season calls for casseroles that simply need a side of veggies to be a complete meal. Read ingredient lists and nutrition facts closely if you are picking up a prepared dish at the store to ensure you don’t accidentally consume too much saturated fat or sodium. Of course, the best way to control the ingredients in your casserole is to make it yourself! Visit or for a variety of recipes. Remember that simple substitutions like whole grain pasta, reduced-fat dairy and lower sodium canned goods make a big difference when it comes to making your casserole better for you.

Healthy, Hearty Soups

I realize that it’s very easy to hit the soup section for a decent canned option, and luckily today there are some better choices (though you still need to closely read for both serving size and the amount of sodium per serving). If you have just a bit of time you can also pull a soup together using beans, greens, grains, rotisserie chicken and low-sodium broth. If you have several hours to slow cook soup, then you can use skinless chicken thighs or split chicken breast along with dry beans and vegetables that require more cooking time like carrots and potatoes. As with casseroles, it’s important to closely read the nutrition facts panel on the packaged ingredients you choose.

Seasonal Salads

Today, produce is transported around the country (and world) allowing for most vegetables to always appear “in season.” That said, winter produce is still far more limited than what we find in the warmer months. This doesn’t mean your fresh salads should also be limited, but rather composed differently than the summer. Try dried fruit, sliced apples, nuts, grapes, and even leftover roasted vegetables to complete a seasonal salad.

Satisfying Snacks

Let’s be honest, a day indoors while the wind howls outside can be oddly hunger inducing . . . or at least inspire us to go in and out of the kitchen like it has a revolving door. Usually this isn’t true hunger, but rather that we are “hungry” for something else (a tropical vacation perhaps?). The bottom line is that we do benefit from appropriate, planned snacks in between meals to control true hunger. Choose balanced snacks like fresh popped popcorn and a small handful of almonds, an apple and ounce of cheese, carrots and hummus, whole grain toast topped with diced avocado, sliced cucumber topped with a dollop of ricotta cheese or Greek yogurt.

For more advice on meeting wellness goals and other nutrition topics, stop by to say “hello” to me at Pawling Hannaford, or visit online.

As your local Hannaford Dietitian, I’m pleased to be sharing my advice and simple tips. Please visit for my in-store schedule of classes, demonstrations, and store tours or call (845) 855-0553 for more information.


Think of these flavorful Stuffed Mexican Sweet Potatoes (2 Guiding Stars) like nachos collided with a baked sweet potato. Wonder what this ultimate comfort food looks like? Visit for a beautiful picture of this recipe and information about the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program.


3 medium sweet potatoes

1 (15 oz.) can no-salt-added corn, rinsed and drained

Salt-free Mexican seasoning, to taste

1 (15 oz.) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp. canola oil

½ yellow onion, minced

4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced

1 oz. low-fat cream cheese

¼ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup cilantro, chopped

6 Tbsp. part-skim, low-sodium cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Bake the sweet potatoes until soft, 30 – 45 minutes.

Dry-toast corn with Mexican seasoning in a non-stick skillet until nicely browned. Combine with black beans and set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent.

When sweet potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, cut them in half. Scoop out most of the flesh.

Combine the sweet potato flesh with the chipotle peppers, cream cheese, yogurt and salt. When well mixed, stir in the roasted corn and bean mix, sautéed onions, and cilantro.

Fill each skin with vegetable mix and top each with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned (2 – 3 minutes).