Tips To Make Comfort Foods Healthier

By Elizabeth Cohen

(CNN) - It's that time of year. As the weather gets colder, we may reach for food as comfort - like spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni n' cheese and chili... reminding us of the past.

"Comfort foods are more about the heart than they are about hunger," said Marisa Moore, a registered dietician.

Moore says comfort foods are often high in fat, calories or sodium.

Eating too much of them can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

Moore offers these tips to make your own healthy comfort foods.

For mac n' cheese:

"You can start with a lower-fat milk, that will help to cut back on the calories. Or you can add vegetables to it," Moore said.

For spaghetti and meatballs:

Moore says, "Instead of using beef, you might use a lean ground turkey. You might switch up your pasta option and use a spaghetti squash, which is a winter squash."

Moore says this makes for a lower-calorie and lower-carbohydrate dish.

As for chili:

"Heart-healthy chili is actually very easy to make. One thing to do is sort of volumize with vegetables - you can add beans, you can add mushrooms and carrots. Those are great ways to increase the fiber," Moore said.

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