4 Comfort Food Tweaks That Won't Widen Your Waist

As spring approaches, you may be thinking seriously of melting excess winter weight brought on by holiday eating, cold-weather comfort foods and a reduced exercise regimen. So how can we resist the belly-warming, sugar-laden, fat-drenched foods that we've come to crave during winter? And scarier yet, the restaurant versions that take bad (and delicious) to worse (and dangerous)?

Actually, you don't have to choose between feeding your belly and flattening it. While writing our new book, Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods, we dissected four iconic American comfort dishes, pinpointing major trouble spots and offering quick, decisive fixes for each.

More: 4 Foods to Burn Belly Fat

Use these tricks and techniques as a blueprint for healthy cooking, so you can avoid dining-out disasters and turn all your favorite comfort foods into mouth-watering weight-loss weapons. You'll have all the edible comfort you crave, plus a lean belly to show for it.

The Truth About Calories

Ice Cream Sundae

The sundae used to be so simple: a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of chocolate, and a cherry on top. But that treat has been replaced by tricked-out, candy-packed, triple-sauced behemoths that can contain more calories than a pound of steak. Follow these tips and you'll return the old-school sundae to its rightful place as a sensible indulgence.

More: Tasty, Low-Calorie Ice Creams You Can Indulge In

The Fix: Seek out quality ice cream that lists milk, not cream, as the first ingredient. We like Breyers Natural Vanilla, at under 150 calories per serving. Garnish it with high-impact fruit, chocolate, and nuts, which add flavor rather than mere sweetness. And serve it in a rocks glass, which looks great while limiting portion size.

Grilled Banana Split

You'll need:

2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
4 scoops good-quality vanilla ice cream, such as Breyers Natural Vanilla
4 Tbsp dark chocolate syrup or fudge sauce (such as Ghirardelli or Santa Cruz Organic), warmed in a bowl
1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped

More: Nuts: Do They Have Too Much Fat?

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