How to make comfort foods more healthy

Give your favourite meals a "light" makeover

Updated: 
creamy macaroni and cheese in...

When the weather is cold, it's only natural to crave warm and filling foods. If you don't want to pile on the pounds, here are six ways to give your favourite comfort foods a healthy and tasty 'light' makeover.
macaroni and cheese dinner on a yellow plate isolated over white
See also:Seven diet myths that are keeping you fat

See also: 10 tricks to downsize your appetite

1. Macaroni cheese

Macaroni cheese is wonderfully filling but packed with fat and calories. Lighten the load by using reduced-fat hard cheese and low-fat cottage cheese instead of cream. Up the nutrition with wholewheat pasta and get one of your five-a-day by adding spinach or broccoli. And if you're craving a pasta dish with a decadent cream sauce, swap heavy cream for evaporated skim milk. It gives a rich, delicious taste, but contains less calories and half the fat.

2. Pie and mash
Pie and mash - with plenty of gravy - is a great winter warmer. If you're watching your waistline, make a pie with just the top to cut down on pastry calories. Switch your usual spuds for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycaemic index, and so release their energy more slowly, helping to keep you fuller for longer. For an even healthier makeover, mash some cauliflower with your potatoes. Instead of cream or butter, wash them with semi-skimmed milk or a little vegetable stock.

4. Spaghetti Bolognese
The Bolognese part of the dish isn't too fattening if you opt for extra lean mince, but the spaghetti calories can soon add up. While opting for wholewheat pasta will make the dish healthier, the best way to reduce calories is to spiralize courgettes in place of the spaghetti. You can pick up a spiralizer for under £12 with p&p - give it a try, you might be surprised at how good it tastes!

5. Indian curry
There's nothing like a hot curry to warm you up on a winter's day, but takeaway Indian food is loaded with calories and fat. One serving of chicken tikka masala can contain 580 calories - and that's before you add rice and naan bread. Make your own at home and keep an eye on the calories. The Spice Tailor range of curries come with authentic spices and sauces, making it easier than ever to get an authentic taste. The Spice Tailor Original Tikka Masala contains just 228 calories per serving. Add extra chicken or prawns and veggies and cut back on the rice.

6. Lighter puddings
Forget stodgy puddings and satisfy your sweet tooth with strawberries drizzled with chocolate, or enjoy them with low-fat Greek yoghurt and a little honey. Alternatively, try grilling or baking fruit for a sweeter taste. Grilled watermelon tastes surprisingly good, or bake a cooking apple with a little dried fruit inside and enjoy with a dollop of yoghurt.