What is it about the fall that makes us crave those home-cooked comfort foods? As soon as the nights cool off and the leaves begin to fall, I feel myself becoming nostalgic for a bowl of warm soup or a slice of homemade pumpkin pie. Experts argue over the reason why many of us seek out these rich and indulgent foods during the cooler months. But whether it is genetic, mood-related or simply just tradition, it is important to remember that many of our fall favorites are also laden with fat and calories.
Out of my own curiosity I began asking my friends what they consider to be the best foods this time of year. Common culprits: soups and stews, chili, macaroni and cheese, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. As a Registered Dietitian, I cringed when thinking about the extra fat that is likely involved with each bite.
But of course that doesn’t have to be the case. There are always ways to tweak recipes so they are healthier and still taste great. In fact you’d probably never know it, but Stewart’s has relatively healthy comfort foods available every day. An 8oz portion of chicken noodle soup contains only 80 calories with just one gram of fat! And because the Chili and the Chicken Pasta Italiano Soup are tomato-based, they too can serve as quick and wholesome meals on a cool day. One serving of the Italiano Soup has 170 calories and 5 grams of fat. While the chili does provide more fat (13g), most of the fat comes from unsaturated, heart-healthy, sources. A cup of chili also provides 18g of protein and 6g of fiber, which is likely to keep you satisfied later when you are tempted by those traditional fall desserts!
If a cup of soup is not enough to satisfy your craving, try grabbing an apple to go with it. Because if you are from Upstate New York, a homegrown fall apple should qualify as a fall comfort food as well!
And my final recommendation for a quick-fix to your comfort cravings is to stop somewhere you know. Not only will the familiar feel of a place soothe your nostalgia, but you are likely to find more wholesome and fresh options. And unless it comes right from Mom’s oven, what could be faster and closer to home than your favorite Stewart’s Shop?
-Christine Sloat, RD, RDN
Christine Sloat is a Registered Dietitian and life-long resident of upstate New York.
She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware, with clinical training at Albany Medical Center. She has a nutrition consulting business, Nutritious Notions LLC.