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Healthy options for your winter warm-up comfort foods

Do you find yourself craving comfort foods now that the cold weather’s here?

Do you find yourself craving comfort foods now that the cold weather’s here?


Instead of pulling out the frozen entrees or resorting to a high-carb meal, try looking for healthy ways to create your old favourites. That way you can warm up without consuming the extra calories.


A perfect example of a comfort meal gone healthy is this week’s Almond Crusted Chicken with Honeyed Sweet Potatoes. Breaded chicken fingers are often found in family freezers because they taste great and appeal to people of all ages. However, these frozen treats are high in fat and carbohydrates, meaning they’re not the best choice for you or your family. Check out caloriecount.about.com and search breaded chicken for more nutritional information.


To avoid the extra fat and carb content in this meal, our recipe developer blends whole-wheat breadcrumbs and almonds to give these healthy chicken fingers a nutty coating that delivers plenty of good-for-you vitamin E and fibre.


Last but not least, our light Two-Bite Cheesecakes are delicious and filling — the perfect way to finish your meal on a sweet note.


Almond Crusted Chicken with Honeyed Sweet Potatoes
Serves Four
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Recipe Developer: Paula Bowman


Ingredients:
• olive oil cooking spray
• 1 egg white
• 1 Tbsp cold water
• 1/3 cup raw almonds
• 3/4 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs, (about 2 slices bread)
• 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• 2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
• 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt plus more for sweet potatoes
• 1/4 tsp fennel seed
• 1 1/2 skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 1/2 lbs)
• 1 1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
• 2 Tbsp honey, plus more for garnish, if desired
• 1/4 tsp lemon juice
• Pinch nutmeg

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with tinfoil, lightly spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Whisk egg white with water until frothy, transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
3. In the small bowl of a food processor, combine almonds, breadcrumbs, parsley, 1/2-teaspoon salt, lemon zest and fennel seed and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer almond mixture to a shallow bowl.
4. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 6 strips and season pieces with salt and pepper. One at a time, dip chicken pieces in egg white, allowing the excess egg white to fall back into the bowl, then dredge in almond mixture until well coated on all sides.
5. Transfer to prepared sheet pan, lightly spray top of chicken with olive oil spray and bake in oven until cooked through and golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes in a saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 12 to 14 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid, drain sweet potatoes and mash with fork or potato masher. Sweet potatoes can also be placed in a food processor and pureed until smooth.
7. Add honey, lemon juice, nutmeg and 1/4-cup reserved cooking liquid and stir until combined. Add more liquid, as necessary until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with mashed sweet potatoes. Serve some honey on the side for dipping or drizzle honey over chicken to garnish, if desired.

Two-Bite Cheesecakes
Makes approximately 15 cheesecakes
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
Recipe Developer: Paula Bowman


Ingredients:
• 2 250-g packages cream cheese, room temperature (Can use light cream cheese)
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• Pinch pinch salt
• 2 eggs

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Place standard-sized muffin cups into a muffin tin. Using an electric mixer, blend cream cheese with all ingredients until smooth and fill each with 1/4 cup of cheese mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.
3. Cool and decorate.