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Make Your Stews Healthier

By Paul Rothbart

When the weather gets cold, hearty comfort food is just what you need at the end of a long day. Winter is stew season. A one-dish meal with plenty of tasty proteins, vegetables, and grains, stews are a seasonal staple. They can be high in calories and fats, which can be a detriment to maintaining good health. But with a few tweaks to your ingredient list, you make a delicious stew that will warm your body while keeping it healthy.

Healthy Grain and Pasta Options

Most stews call for some type of grain or noodle. These ingredients add plenty of comfort, but are high in carbohydrates and can be unhealthy in large amounts. You don't have to leave them out, just try healthier substitutes. Instead of rice, use farro or quinoa. These grains will soak up the liquid and flavor just as well as rice while containing fewer calories and carbohydrates. Noodles made from chickpeas, red lentils, or brown rice are tasty and healthier than traditional wheat-based pasta. To get really healthy, try spaghetti squash, or spiralize zucchini, or winter squash. 

Use Seasonal Vegetables

Vegetables that are in season usually cost less than those that aren't. They will also be fresher. When fall comes around, it's harvest time. Carrots, butternut squash, kale, and turnips are great autumn veggies that are hearty, tasty, and very healthy. You can make stews all year round, using whatever vegetables are currently in season.

Use Broths

Stews are usually cooked in gravies or sauces. While delicious and comforting, they are loaded with calories and fat. Not the healthiest meal you can eat. By substituting a broth or stock, you can get the same flavors with far fewer calories. Choose a broth to match your protein or even use vegetable stock. You can even make your own, which gives you the advantage of controlling how much sodium is in it.

Use Healthy Proteins

You can make a stew with almost any protein, so choose the healthy ones. Chicken stews are an excellent choice as chicken is nutritious and has less fat and cholesterol than beef. Seafood stews are also delicious and you can use your favorite type of fish or even shrimp. Other good sources of protein are chickpeas, red lentils, and squash. They are lower in fat and cholesterol than meat and have healthy fiber to boot.

There's nothing like a delicious stew for dinner on a cold day. Comfort food is a wonderful thing but you don't have to sacrifice your health. Try some of these substitute ingredients for a stew that can warm you up, fill you up, and keep your health up.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Murphy, Tex.

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