Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

How to battle the winter bulge:

Now that it's cold, I yearn to prepare hearty meals. Roast chicken, beef stew and French toast are at the top of my list.
Date: July 30 2012
Tags: diet, food, weight,
Editor Rating:

The sad thing is that after I've consumed one of these fabulous dishes, I'm more prone to hibernate than I am to get up and be productive.

According to nutritionist Sarah Griswold our social lives change during the cooler months. We become less active and in turn, that makes it more difficult to maintain our weight.

"Research shows that people gain a couple of pounds during the winter months ... but we don't lose that weight over the next year, and so the weight can add up," she says.

If you're not the type to pull out a parka and go for a bike ride or hit a hiking trail on a brisk and breezy day, there are still ways to burn off extra calories in the comfort of your home.

"If you have stairs in your house you have a free exercise machine. Just go up and down the stairs, whether it's to the second floor (and) there's the old standby trick, if you're watching TV, get up and move during commercial breaks," Griswold says.

Using canned foods as weights is another tip she offers for burning calories.

"Remain as active as possible and watch your portion sizes because this time of year is when the rich foods come out and the calories add up even faster," she says.

Lowering the fat and calorie content in recipes is always a good idea.

"If you are the cook, you are going to be able to tell the difference between grandma's traditional recipe and a lower-calorie recipe, but if you don't tell anyone else and do a good job with the food prep, a lot of people aren't going to be able to notice," she says.

The following recipes will help you get a head start on battling the wintertime bulge. For instance, if you love Shepherd's Pie, transform a recipe that originally contained 710 calories per serving into a recipe that presents a lean 340 calories per serving. Revamped a traditional chicken stew recipe from 640 calories to a more manageable 400 calories and convert a recipe for double chocolate bread pudding from 470 to 240 calories per serving.

Green Bean Casserole with crispy shallots recipe

Serves 8


1/4 cup olive oil

6 medium shallots, sliced into rings (about 1 cup)

500g thin fresh string beans, trimmed

1 pound button mushrooms, sliced

6 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

3 cups cold low-fat milk

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 1/4-cup shallots and cook, stirring until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining shallots, cooking 1/4 cup at a time. Reserve oil in pan.

2. Steam green beans in steamer basket over pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes, until bright green and still crisp.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved shallot oil in deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until mushroom liquid is evaporated and they begin to brown, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl.

4. Whisk together milk and flour until flour is dissolved. Add mixture to skillet and, whisking constantly, bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, whisking occasionally until thickened, about 10 minutes.

5. Remove pan from heat and stir in green beans, mushroom mixture, cup cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt and black pepper.

6 Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon green bean mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle top with crispy shallots and remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Approximate values per 1 cup serving: 150 calories, 6 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 9 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fibre, 18 milligrams cholesterol, 330 milligrams sodium.

Caramelised onion soup with melted swiss croutons

4 Serve


1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions

1 teaspoon dried thyme

6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

4 slices sourdough bread, about 2cm thick

4 slices Swiss cheese

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and tender.

2. Add thyme and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Add broth and bring to simmer. Simmer 10 minutes and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Toast bread slices in toaster or under grill. Place bread in bottom of soup bowls and top with Swiss cheese. Ladle onion soup over top and serve.

Approximate values per serving: 274 calories, 11 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 28 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 3 grams fibre, 340 milligrams sodium

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