Low Fat Recipes to Enjoy in the Cold Weather

The following is a list of favorite cold-weather recipes that have stood the test of time throughout my 18 years of cooking. These recipes are high on flavour but not high in calories. Consequently, you won’t have to call your family twice for dinner because the aroma and taste of these dishes will encourage everyone to gather around the kitchen table.  

Nothing gives cold weather a run for the money like a steaming bowl of home-made chicken noodle soup. And the pleasing taste comes from the vegetables, not from fat.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken, rinsed

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, cut in half (with leaves on)

8 garlic cloves, whole

4 medium carrots, halved

1/2 cup(125 ml) shell pasta

1 tsp(5 ml) salt

4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

Step one:  Put chicken in a large pot.  Add onions, celery, ang garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Simmer uncovered on medium heat for about one hour.(turn the chicken over after 30 minutes)

Step two:  Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.  Remove celery with a sieve.  Add carrots and pasta to pot.  Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes.  Remove carrots and cut into hearty pieces.  Return carrots to pot.

Step three:  When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin.  Tear up into bite-sized pieces and return to pot.  Chop up parsley and sprinkle on top just before serving.  Serve with whole wheat bread.  Serves 8.

Ginger-Beef Stew

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally

1, 8 oz. Can(227 ml) of sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 cup(250 ml) roasted red peppers, drained and blotted dry

1 Tbsp(15 ml) cooking oil

1 1/2 lbs(680 g) beef stewing meat, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 Tbsp(30 ml) finely grated, peeled ginger root (or 1 tsp/5 ml ground ginger)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2/3 cup(150 ml) water

1/4 cup(60 ml) dry sherry (or beef broth)

1 Tbsp(15 ml) brown sugar

3 Tbsp(50 ml) soy sauce

1 Tbsp(15 ml) corn starch

1 cup(250 ml) snow peas, trimmed

Step one.  Layer first 4 ingredients in slow cooker.  Heat oil in large frying pan on medium heat.  Add beef.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned.  Add ginger and garlic.  Heat and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant.

Step two.  Add to pan water, sherry and brown sugar.  Stir.  Bring to a boil.  Pour over vegetables.  Do not stir.  Cover.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 4 1/2 hours

Step three.  Stir soy sauce into cornstarch in small cup until smooth.  Add to beef mixture.  Stir.  Add snow peas.  Stir well.  Cover. Cook on High for about 10 minutes.  Serves 6.  Serve over a bed of brown basmati rice.


This beet soup will have you coming back for seconds and feeling like a million bucks. Beets are great for your blood plus this recipe is ultra-low fat. 

2 cups(500 ml) peeled, diced potatoes

5 cups(1.25 litres) water

1 Tbsp(15 ml) vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp(5 ml) salt

2 cups(500 ml) sliced carrots

1/2 cup(125 ml) diced celery

4 cups(1 litre) chopped cabbage or coleslaw mix

8 oz.(250 ml) can sliced beets(or fresh beets baked in the oven for about an hour)

2 Tbsp(30 ml) red wine vinegar

2 tsp(10ml) fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp(2 ml) black pepper

garnish: plain yogurt

Step one:  In a medium saucepan, cook the potatoes in the water until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain them and save the water.  In a large saucepan, or dutch oven, heat the oil and saute the onion until it is translucent.

Step two:  Add the salt, carrots, celery, cabbage and the water from the cooked potatoes.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook the soup about 40 minutes.

Step three:  Add the potatoes, beets, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and black pepper.  Simmer, partially covered fro 15 minutes.  Thin the soup with water if necessary.  You may need to thin the soup in step two as well.  Garnish with yogurt and serve with cottage cheese pyrogies.  Serves 6.

Classic Beef Chili

Chili is a quick and easy, low-fat favourite to serve at half time during a football game.

1 cup(250 ml) chopped onion

1 cup(250 ml) diced carrot

1 cup(250 ml) chopped green pepper

2 lbs(900 g) lean ground beef

2, 14 oz.(398 ml) cans of diced tomatoes

19 oz.(540 ml) can of black beans, rinsed and drained

14 oz.(398 ml) can of white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

10 oz(284 ml) can of tomato soup

2 Tbsp(60 ml) chili powder

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp(5ml) cumin

Step one:  Layer first 3 ingredients, in order given in slow cooker. Brown ground beef in a skillet and drain off any fat.  Pour on top of vegetables. 

Step two:  Combine next 8 ingredients in large bowl.  Pour over beef.  Do not stir.  Cover.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.  Serve with whole wheat kaiser buns.  Serves 8.

Shepherd’s Pie

2 lbs(1kg) baking potatoes

12 garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 cup(175 ml) hot potato cooking liquid

1 lb(454 g) extra-lean ground beef

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups(500 ml) cooked chickpeas, chopped

1 1/2 cups(375 ml) crushed canned tomatoes

1 Tbsp(15 ml) worcestershire sauce

1 cup(250 ml) fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup(125 ml) fresh or frozen peas

1/2 cup(125 ml) fresh or frozen corn niblets

1 Tbsp(15 ml) paprika

Step one:  Place potatoes and whole garlic cloves in pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes or until tender.  Drain well, reserving about 1 cup(250 ml) cooking liquid.  With potato masher, mash potatoes with 1/2cup(125 ml) hot cooking liquid.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add more liquid if needed.

Step two:  Heat large, deep non-stick skillet.  Add beef, and brown.  Add onions and choped garlic and cook until tender.  Drain off any fat.  Add chickpeas and crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook gently for about 10 minutes.  Add worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, peas and corn and combine well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step three:  Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled 10 cup(2.5 litre) casserole dish.  Spred mashed potatoes on top.  Dust with paprika  Bake in preheated 400F(200 C) oven for 30 minutes.  Serves 6.

Indian Peanut Chicken

1 Tbsp(15 ml) vegetable oil

8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs

1 1/2 cups(375 ml) thinly sliced onion

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp(10 ml) curry powder

1 tsp(5 ml) crushed red pepper

1/2 cup(125 ml) water

10 oz.(284 ml) can tomato soup

1 tsp(5 ml)salt

2 Tbsp(30 ml) warm water

1/3 cup(75 ml) smooth natural peanut butter

3/4 cup(175 ml) chopped red pepper

1/2 cup(125 ml) chopped english cucumber

Step one:  Heat oil in large frying pan on medium.  Add chicken thighs.  Cook for 5 minutes on each side, until browned.  Transfer to slow cooker.

Step two:  Add onion to same large frying pan.  Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until softened.  Add next 3 ingredients.  Heat and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant.  Add broth, tomato soup and salt.  Stir well.  Pour over chicken.  Do not stir.  Cover.  Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or on high or 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

Step three:  stir warm water into peanut butter in small cup until smooth.  Add to chicken mixture.  Stir.  Add red pepper.  Stir well.  Cover.  Cook on high for about 20 minutes until red pepper is tender-crisp.  Remove to a large serving bowl.  Scatter cucumber over top.  Serve over brown basmati rice.  Serves 4.

Vietnamese Chicken Mango and Mint Stir-fry

1 lb(500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 Tbsp(30 ml) cornstarch

1 Tbsp(15 ml) soy sauce

1 mango

3 Tbsp(50 ml) vegetable oil

1/3 cup(75 ml) chopped onions

2 tsp(10 ml) finely chopped jalapeno pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup(125 ml) chopped sweet red pepper

1 cup(250 ml) chicken stock

4 tsp(20 ml) fish sauce

2 tsp(10 ml) lime juice

1 cup(250 ml) loosely packed fresh mint leaves or 1 Tbsp(15 ml) dried mint

Step one:  Cut chicken breast into 1 inch chunks.  In bowl stir together chicken, cornstarch and soy sauce.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and cut mango into 1/2 inch chunks.  Set aside.

Step two:  In shallow dutch oven or work, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Stir fry onions until golden, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken mixture, jalapeno pepper and garlic.  Stir fry for 4 minutes.  Stir in mango and red pepper until combined. 

Step three:  Add chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.  Bring to a boil, stirring until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in mint.  Serve over brown basmati rice.  Makes 4 servings.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 lb(454 g) lean ground beef  

1 large onion, chopped

pepper to taste

4 cloves chopped garlic

1 Tbsp(15 ml) worcestershire sauce

28 oz(796 ml) can crushed tomatoes

1 1/4 cup(300ml) water

5 Tbsp(100 ml) brown rice

4 cups(1 litre) cabbage, coursely chopped(or colesalw mix)

3 Tbsp(45 ml) grated parmesan cheese

Step one:  In a frying pan, brown the meat and drain off any fat.  Add onion, pepper, garlic and worcestershire sauce. Cook until onions are golden.  Stir in tomatoes, water, and rice. 

Step two:  Place cabbage in a 4 litre casserole dish.  Pour meat mixture over and stir.  Cover and bake at 350F(180 C) for 90 minutes.  Check after 1 hour and stir in a little water if necessary to keep the casserole moist. 

Step three:  Remove cover and sprinkle with parmesan cheese for the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Serves 4.

Basa Fillets with Orange

2 large Basa fillets

4 oranges

salt and pepper to taste

Step one:  Cut each oranges into 4 slices.  Put orange slices in a single layer to cover the bottom of a saucepan with a lid.  Add enough water just to cover the oranges.  Bring water to a boil.

Step two:  Place basa fillets on top of the orange slices. Cover tightly and simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Serve over brown basmati rice. Serves 2.       

Pineapple Chicken

l large onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, chopped

1/4 cup(60 ml) all purpose flour

2 tsp(10 ml) paprika

3 tsp(15 ml) ground ginger

16 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs

1 cup(250 ml) chicken broth

1/2 cup(125 ml) reserved pineapple juice

2 Tbsp(30 ml) soy sauce

2 Tbsp(30 ml) brown sugar

1/4 tsp(1 ml) ground allspice

1 large red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces

1, 14 oz.(398 ml) can pineapple tidbits, drained and juice reserved

2 Tbsp(30 ml) water

2 Tbsp(30 ml) cornstarch

Step one:  Put onion and carrots into slow cooker.  Combine next 3 ingredients in large, resealable freezer bag.  Add 1/3 of chicken thighs.  Seal bag.  Toss until coated.  Repeat twice with remaining 2/3 of chicken.  Arrange chicken on top of carrots. 

Step two:  Combine next 5 ingredients in 2 cup(500 ml) liquid measure.  Pour over chicken.  Do not stir.  Cover.  Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or on high for 4 to 4 1/2 hours. 

Step three:  Add red pepper and pineapple.  Stir.  Stir water into cornstarch in small cup until smooth.  Add to chicken mixture.  Stir well.  Cover.  Cook on high for about 20 minutes. Serve over brown basmati rice.  Serves 12

Brown Basmati Rice

1 cup brown basmati rice

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp(5 ml) veegetable oil

2 cups(500 ml) water

1/2 tsp(2 ml) salt

1. Saute onions in oil for about 5 minutes in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Next, add garlic and stir for one minute.

2. Add  water and brown basmati rice to pot. 

3. Bring to a boil, stir once.

4. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer for 50 minutes.  Do not remove lid.

5. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Makes 2 cups cooked rice

These recipes are tried and tested and are sure to warm you up to your very core when the cold weather arrives.  And you can check your guilt at the door because this food is great for the body as well as the taste buds.  I hope these recipes become some of your favorites and that you enjoy them with friends and family for years to come. 

Sources:  Slow Cooker Dinners by Jean Pare   

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