Monday, December 22, 2008

Feel-good Foods to Battle the Winter Blues

(ARA) - It’s that time of year again when temperatures hit single digits, clothing gets heavier and it can be difficult to resist the urge to curl up all day under a warm and comfy blanket with an engaging book.

When the sun starts setting earlier, many people also look forward to enjoying traditional delicious winter comfort foods that evoke warmth and nostalgia. Nothing is cozier and more heart-warming than a flavorful meal of chicken pot pie, a savory casserole, a steamy stir-fry or a piping hot bowl of soup to melt a cold winter day away.

You don’t have to lock yourself away in the kitchen all day either to prepare your family’s favorite dishes. Look no further than your own kitchen cupboard for simple solutions to creating hearty and economical meals that will beat the winter blues. Here are a few easy tips to warm your soul and get you through the chilly season:

Yesterday’s Leftovers Made a Little Richer

Often, you open the fridge and face a daunting stack of containers full of leftovers. But last week’s meals can be perfect for turning into a simple chicken pot pie, a hearty stew or a quick casserole. Suddenly, those leftovers are transformed into five more appetizing weeknight dinners.

An easy tip for making leftovers more rich and flavorful when combined in one dish is to add a ready-made broth or stock to guarantee moisture that may have been lost. For example, College Inn chicken broth enhances the flavor of leftover poultry in recipes. Some great dishes include One-Pot Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli, Santa Fe Chipotle Beef Stew and Tortilla Soup, all of which can be found at www.collegeinn.com/everydayexcitement.

"Nothing makes a dish more moist and delicious than the addition of a simple broth, and with new, exotic flavors, such as College Inn’s new line of Culinary Broths in Thai Coconut Curry or White Wine and Herb varieties, you can surprise your family with rich, new tastes," says Laura Molseed Ali, Del Monte’s resident dietitian. "Adding broth to a favorite dish or stew will give your meals a lighter flavor than what you’d get with a heavy cream or butter."

Simple Snacks and Mood Foods
You can also beat the doldrums with mood-enhancing snack choices. People typically reach for a bar of chocolate or caffeinated beverage for a quick energy boost, but both can cause short-term increases in energy followed by crashes. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol in high doses as both contribute to irritability and depression.

Instead, try simple mood-boosting snacks like trail mix or a fruit cup which are healthier for you than sugary snacks and easy to take on-the-go. If you are absolutely in need of a chocolate or sugar fix and don’t want to overindulge, drizzle a small amount of fat-free chocolate syrup over a whole wheat English muffin for a smarter mid-afternoon snack. Or pack your favorite instant hot cocoa packets in your lunch bag.

Drinks to Warm You on the Inside
It has been proven that hot drinks can actually make you feel less irritable during the winter season. A recent study at Yale University shows that holding a warm drink 'warms' your personality. A simple solution to reduce cold weather irritability is to sip hot cocoa, savor a cup of flavorful broth, or relish a warm apple cider to brighten a bad mood. You’ll instantly feel a little better during a cold hectic day.

Maintaining a warm, healthy body with the right foods and beverages will no doubt help you to keep a glowing personality this winter season.

For more helpful ideas and recipes this winter, visit www.collegeinn.com/everydayexcitement.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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