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Comfort Meals of 400 Calories or Less

Don't pack on those winter pounds

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Want to Lose Weight? Follow these 12 tips to shed pounds and stay healthy.

barley risotto with mushrooms, a low calorie winter dish

Try risotto with mushrooms for a healthy winter supper. — Photo by: Yvonne Duivenvoorden/the food passionates/Corbis

In the coldest days of the year, everyone longs for comfort foods: mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lasagna or chili with lots of cheese. While we love all these foods, they can tend to pack in the calories and fat — and pack on the pounds. Especially when the cold weather makes regular exercise less appealing than hibernating indoors, it's important to find comfort foods that keep nutrition and portions in mind. Here are 14 recipes for hearty, filling dinners that are each 400 calories or less per serving. They use seasonal ingredients, whole grains and a range of proteins to please your palate. And excerpts from the chefs' and authors' headnotes provide recipe history, tips and serving suggestions.

See also: Want to banish fat from your diet?

Whether you're looking for vegetarian fare that will sustain you, something to hit your craving for classic Italian, or an old family standard like pot roast or potpie, these recipes will fit the bill — and come springtime, you'll be pleased to find that you have no trouble fitting in your warm-weather wardrobe.

Pasta E Fagioli by Nigella Lawson: "Just the thing you want to eat when the rain's battering against the windowpanes and just what you need to cook to make you feel that you're safe and warm, happy and occupied within." 393 calories per serving.

Kasha With Vegetables by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner: "Kasha, also called buckwheat groats, is a healthy and delicious whole grain cereal that can be prepared in a manner similar to risotto to make a hearty vegetarian main course." 201 calories per serving.

Turkey Thighs, Acorn Squash and Apples by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann: "Calvados is a strong apple brandy that is made in Normandy, France. Serve with couscous, rice or cornbread."

Herb-Stuffed Flank Steak by Jean Anderson: "The herb-bread stuffing makes two pounds of steak do the job of three." 390 calories per serving.

White Bean and Eggplant Gratin by Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown: "Bake this filling dish in a large casserole or individual crocks and serve it with a salad of winter greens." 363 calories per serving.

Mac and Cheese by Joe Piscatella: "With just a few modifications, even your favorite comfort foods can fit into a lifelong heart-healthy eating plan."

Seitan and Polenta Skillet With Fresh Greens by Nava Atlas: "There's something enticing about the seitan/polenta synergy, and with the addition of greens, the result is a great looking, hearty dish." 332 calories per serving.

Tuscan Chicken, Zucchini and White Bean Ragout by Anne Byrn: "With white beans, fresh zucchini, a handful of crunchy chopped onion and a healthy dose of garlic, the ragout makes a delicious main dish that can be on the table in less than 20 minutes." 262 calories per serving.

Mushroom-Barley "Risotto" by Jay Weinstein: "Serve with crisp vegetables, such as sliced fennel, dressed with olive oil, lemon, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese." 400 calories per serving.

Pot Roast by Claudia Roden: "The Jewish pot-au-feu of boiled beef and vegetables, a Friday-night alternative to chicken soup and roast chicken, makes a deliciously heartwarming meal." 349 calories per serving.

Chicken Curry Potpie by Elinor Klivans: "The exquisite result is a gorgeous golden filling that makes a colorful 'dinner party' potpie." 337 calories per serving.

Rustic Winter Stew by Anne Bramley: "In the depths of winter, sauerkraut is the best 'in season' vegetable going, and pairing it with pork is an Eastern European classic." 365 calories per serving.

Hungarian Chicken by Sarah Leah Chase: "My father whispers that my mother's version doesn't taste like his mother's; my mother fumes silently, and I yearn to create the perfect rendition of Hungarian Chicken and thereby restore family harmony." 375 calories per serving.

Boeuf Bourguignon by Anthony Bourdain: : "If you listened to me earlier, and keep a stash of good, strong demi-glace kicking around in your freezer, a couple of spoonfuls give the sauce a nice flavor boost." 360 calories per serving.

You might also like: Lose weight but eat great. >>

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