Change it up this winter.
Comfort foods can be healthy, and they can also be unconventional. Take fruit for example: While you might not normally prepare them over the stove or in the oven, when cooked with the right spices, warm winter fruits offer a satisfying, healthy indulgence.
Here, five ways to take advantage of fruits served warm.
1. Orange-zested black bean soup
Already a favorite of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, black bean soup packs a healthy dose of protein and fiber, a powerful duo for satisfying hunger and promoting digestion. The iron, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc found in black beans also fortify bone structure and strength, preventing osteoporosis. Combine this with the heart-healthy trifecta of vitamin C, potassium, and choline found in oranges, and you have an energizing post-workout recovery meal. To add this zesty Brazilian twist to the cold-weather classic black bean soup, infuse the broth with oranges along with a kick of sherry.
2. Broiled persimmons with mascarpone
The plight of the ambiguous persimmon: Not a tomato despite its similar feel and shape, and either crunchy and sweet or gushy and rich depending on the variety, persimmons contain as much vitamin C as an orange and a surprisingly high amount of iron and calcium. Sadly, both Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons are typically only available from October through February. However, pick a fully ripe Hachiya and broil it, and you’ll love this intensely sweet dish as a healthier (and cleaner) alternative to creme brûlée. For a slightly more indulgent take, serve them as a “custard,” drizzling them as Martha Stewartsuggests with honey, lime juice, and vanilla-perfumed mascarpone cheese.
3. Harvest roast chicken with grapes and olives
How do you upgrade a hearty roast chicken? Sweeten it with roasted grapes. Red grapes are packed with cancer fighting resveratrol and free-radical-fighting antioxidants. Instead of eating them as a snack raw, try using them this winter to flavor the oil used to brown chicken before roasting. Halve the grapes and surround your chicken with them and you’ll morph the fruit into what food blogger Kate Williams calls a “luscious garnish.”
4. Roasted pears topped with blue cheese and walnuts
More fibrous than apples and one of the richest sources of flavonoid and stilbene antioxidants, pears are a seasonal winter fruit that deserve a little more attention. Not only can their fiber-packed center help prevent cardiovascular disease and encourage weight loss, but their mildly tart flavor means pears pair especially well with cheese. Prepare the sweet-savory duo like chef Tyler Florence: halved pears drizzled with olive oil, baked, and topped with melted blue cheese, thyme, and crumbled walnuts.
5. Steel-cut oats with fresh cherries and pistachios
Made by slicing whole oat groats rather than rolling them, the steel-cut variety retain a larger surface area, increasing their fiber content and making them a healthier choice than the regular variety used in instant oatmeal. For a refreshing twist on overnight oats, steep them in a crock pot alongside fresh cherries, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Follow this food blogger’s recipe, but we recommend you sub out the dried cherries for fresh ones: Not only will the high water content of fresh cherries keep you fuller for longer, but their natural melatonin will also help regulate your sleep cycle.