When the weather gets frigid, there’s no denying a heaping helping of your favourite comfort food will warm you up. Maybe your go-to meal is a bowl of rich mac and cheese, or creamy soup once the weather drops below zero.
But warm, comforting food doesn’t need to be saturated with salts, sugars, and fats. In fact, that toasty feeling can be had from uber-healthy superfoods, providing as much nutrition as they do warmth.
Get that feel-good coziness from these five hot superfoods to eat on a chilly day (plus all the benefits of nutrients, antioxidants, and immune-boosting powers).
This breakfast time staple is perfect to cook up when the snow falls. Oats are whole-grain, meaning ample amounts of fiber and plant-based protein that’ll keep you feeling full.
Oatmeal also possesses a potent starch called beta-glucan. Just three grams of the starch from oats per day is enough to reduce your bad cholesterol levels by 5 to 10%. Plus, oatmeal is flexible, offering a canvas to add other tasty and nutritious foods to your bowl.
“To get some healthy fat mixed in, I add almond butter and chia seeds,” says Keri Gans, RD, a dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet.
Try this recipe: Chai Oatmeal
Black Bean Soup
While a rich, creamy soup is a hearty meal to warm up to, it’s not necessarily the best for your body.
Thanks to the inclusion of cumin and chili pepper, black bean soup offers a hot kick to warm you up, in addition to the star of the dish – black beans.
Black beans are a robust source of iron and copper, which encourage your muscles to use more oxygen, boosting your immune system. Unlike traditional protein sources, the most common being meat, black beans have no saturated fats.
Related: Superfoods that Work Better Together
Black beans are so good, even their skin offers health benefits; research from the American Chemical Society claims the black skins contain higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidant flavonoids than any other type of bean.
Try this recipe: Black Bean Soup
Avocado isn’t restricted to the summer time. The creamy fruit certainly has a place in the frigid months of the year.
“Oven roasting avocado makes it even creamier,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health‘s contributing nutrition editor. “Chop it up warm and put on top of another vegetable.”
Avocado does have a fair amount of fat, but half of it is monounsaturated fat, which lowers bad cholesterol levels, and provides nutrients for cells to function. The trendy fruit can also keep you feeling full; adding avocado to a meal increased satisfaction by 23% over a five-hour period, according to research published in Nutrition Journal.
Try this recipe: Chilled Avocado Soup
Apples are the sweet fruit of choice in cold – is there anything more comforting than a toasty, baked apple?
The popular fruit is unique, rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. The former assists in digestion, while the latter helps that now-digested food pass through smoothly – and that means less hunger, and problems with the stomach.
Make sure to leave the skins on, too – they’re an excellent source of concentrated fiber. An unpeeled, medium-sized apple contains about 4.4 grams of fiber. Apples are nearly 86% water as well, keeping you hydrated if you’re sweating under the piles of warm blankets.
Try this recipe: Baked Apple Fritters
Not only is squash an awesome, sweet-tasting comfort food, it’s extremely healthy. It’s a premium source of potassium, complemented with adequate calcium and vitamin C.
A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a diet high in potassium could reduce risk of stroke by 21%, and lower the risks of heart disease.
How good is one of our favourites, butternut squash? Just a cup of the baked goods offers 457% of your daily vitamin A, 7 grams of fiber…and just 82 calories. And of course, it’s best served warm, making it ideal for the winter.
Try this recipe: Gingery Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry