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Dining In — Recipe of the Week: Nurtritious potato soup

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So far, the weather this January has been fairly kind with no snowstorms or freezing temperatures to keep us huddling indoors.

But winter is still in its early stages, and we know that harsh weather is likely to come, so it’s best to be prepared with ideas for foods that will offer comfort in the weeks ahead.

It’s also important to remember that after winter comes spring, when we will be pleased if we haven’t packed on wintertime pounds through heavy foods and lack of exercise.

Happily, high-fat versions are not the only option when we crave comfort food dishes like macaroni and cheese, stews, meatloaf and chicken and dumplings.

For mac and cheese, you can use low-fat cheeses and skim milk in place of high-fat alternatives. Grape tomatoes tucked into a baked mac and cheese also give bright bites of flavor and texture while adding crucial nutrients to the dish.

For beef stew use lean cuts of meat and more vegetables than you normally would. The same goes for chicken and dumplings; add more vegetables and if you use a biscuit mix for dumplings, choose the reduced-fat version and use low-fat milk. Meatloaf, shepherd’s pie and meatballs all can be made with ground meats that have less fat such as turkey or bison.

Use healthful oils instead of solid fats such as butter or shortening when cooking and baking, and remember that some foods such as chicken soup aren’t heavy but offer a lot of comfort.

Peanut butter is a comfort food that has enough food value and nutrition to outweigh the fat it contains, as long as it’s eaten in moderation. And an occasional grilled cheese sandwich won’t cause any harm.

This reduced-fat soup recipe from tasteofhome.com is hearty comfort food with few calories and less fat.

Makeover Cheesy Ham ‘N’ Potato Soup

2¼ cups cubed potatoes

1½ cups water

1½ cups cubed fully cooked lean ham

1 large onion, chopped

2 teaspoons canola oil

¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 cups fat-free milk

1½ cups (6 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1 cup frozen broccoli florets, thawed and chopped

1. In a saucepan, bring potatoes and water to a boil. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. In a blender or food processor, process reserved liquid and ¼ cup cooked potatoes until smooth; set aside. Set remaining potatoes aside.

2. In a large saucepan, sauté ham and onion in oil until onion is tender. In a bowl, combine milk powder, flour, pepper, milk and processed potato mixture until smooth. Stir into ham and onion. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

3. Reduce heat to low. Add the cheese, broccoli and reserved potatoes; cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted and heated through.

Serve immediately.

Nutrition: 1 cup: 238 calories, 8g fat (4g saturated fat), 31mg cholesterol, 604mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 2g fiber), 19g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 2 lean meat, ½ fat-free milk.


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