Healthy Cooking Thursday! Comfort Food Made Healthy


It’s fall and that means warm, yummy food gracing the table in my home.  Comfort food is another term for it. As the weather turns chilly, there’s nothing like comfort food to help us make the transition into winter.

Yes, that sounds a little like emotional eating.  But hey, emotional eating is part of normal eating, and it can be healthy as long as it’s not our only way to cope, and as long as we don’t feel guilty about using food in this way.  And it sure does do the trick sometimes.

Robyn Webb, food editor for Diabetes Forecast, the magazine of the American Diabetes Association, has come up with a sure winner for those of us who do find comfort food so tantalizing.  It’s called The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook, and you can find it on the American Diabetes Association website.

Here’s what they say about it there.  If you know me,  you know this is singing my song.

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and comfort foods are designed to embrace and celebrate this pleasure.

They go on to say that “many people assume a diagnosis of diabetes means the days of celebrating the foods they love are officially over.”  But this book proves that’s not true.  It features good-for-you recipes for everyone, not just those of us who have diabetes.  Btw, eating healthy is the basic recipe for eating well for diabetes, which of course is the basic recipe for eating well for all of us.

Here’s one recipe I loved.  The inspiration for it was registered dietitian Alex Oppenheimer (@AlexOppRD).

Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice Soup)

6 cups water
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 small bay leaves
1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.  Meanwhile, trim any excess fat off the chicken and slice in half, for faster cooking. Season the chicken with garlic powder on all sides. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides for about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

2. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and saute for 6-7 minutes.  Add the green pepper and saute for 3 minutes.  Add in the black pepper, apple cider vinegar, tomato sauce, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

3. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pot and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the 6 cups of boiling water to the pot, stir and cover. Bring to a boil. Add the rice and carrots. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 30-40 minutes. The rice should be tender and should split open. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Add in the red pepper flakes.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding some fresh cilantro.  To me, it makes these kinds of soups.  Also, if you’re eating it as a leftover and looking for a new taste sensation, try adding smoked paprika.

Finally, follow Robyn on Twitter @robynwebb for great healthy cooking tips!

What’s your favorite healthy comfort food recipe?


2 responses to “Healthy Cooking Thursday! Comfort Food Made Healthy”

  1. […] when they saw the recipe in print – priceless! Here is a peak at my asopao recipe on the blog, A Weight Lifted (click to view). Asopao is one of my favorite dishes to snuggle up to as winter creeps […]

  2. abu@whatarediabetes says:

    Good recipe. I will try it.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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