Why you crave winter comfort foods

Why you crave winter comfort foods

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IT'S cold, the days are short, and all we went to do is curl up with our favourite creamy pastas, mashed potatoes and warm chocolate puddings.

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IT'S cold, the days are short, and all we went to do is curl up with our favourite creamy pastas, mashed potatoes and warm chocolate puddings.

But why is it we're drawn to these comfort foods?

According to nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume, the reason we're drawn to warming, carb-heavy foods has everything to do with our biology.

"As the days get shorter and the mercury dips, your body does expend extra energy in trying to preserve heat loss. Although the difference in calorie expenditure is relatively small, it's not enough to warrant an extra helping of carbonara," Kathleen said.

"And thanks to shorter days and longer periods of darkness, our circadian rhythms (aka "your body clock") takes a shift by producing more melatonin - a hormone that influences sleep, making you feel more sluggish during the day."

Kathleen explained these limited daylight hours also influence key mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin.

"So, in order to help fight fatigue and lift your spirits, eating sugary-snacks or carb-rich foods may explain why it's natural to self-medicate with an afternoon cuppa with scones and jam."

While eating these comfort foods may make us feel better in the short-term, eating too much can have a big impact on our waist in the long-term and can cause winter weight gain.

The good news is we don't have to avoid carbs all together.

"You can still feed a carb craving and get the same comforting feelings from winter foods containing ingredients that are nourish you," Kathleen said.

"Simply make the switch to whole grain, high fibre carbs at breakfast, lunch and dinner and you'll easily achieve your daily 48 grams whole grain target!"

Besides providing energy and fibre, whole grains provide a host of health benefits, including helping to manage cholesterol.

Nutritionally, whole grains contain protein, dietary fibre, vitamins (especially B-group vitamins and antioxidant Vitamin E), minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium) and many bioactive phytonutrients.

Homemade Honey & Oat Slices

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Makes: 10 slices

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups UNCLE TOBYS Traditional Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup spelt whole meal flour
  • 2 tsp desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Place in dates in a large mixing bowl, pour over boiling water and allow to soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Once soaked, mash the dates with a fork to form a thick paste.
  4. Add the egg, honey, olive oil and mix until well combined.
  5. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir until mixture forms a thick batter.
  6. Grab an ice-cream scoop or 2 tablespoons of batter and form into patties on your baking tray. Flatten with back of spoon and bake 20 minutes until golden.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a tray.
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