Comfort Foods Made Lighter
With the holidays fast approaching followed by resolutions for the New Year, you may be looking for some lighter versions of your favorites. These recipes and Readers’ Light Tips feature ideas for "lightening up" comfort foods. So you can enjoy the old-fashioned goodness without the guilt!
It’s a shame that Suzanne Dole only fixes Lasagna with Two Sauces on an annual basis. This favorite needs a light makeover so that Suzanne and her family can enjoy it more than once a year. To start, our Test Kitchen reduced the total amount of meat in Makeover Lasagna with Two Sauces and replaced it with a healthier alternative—bulgur, a form of cracked wheat. With a few other changes, the makeover dish is so tasty, Suzanne’s family won’t even realize it’s lighter.
Green Bean Casserole conjures up memories of Mom’s traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. But if you want to offer your family a slimmed-down version, try Makeover Green Bean Casserole from the Test Kitchen. It uses frozen green beans instead of canned, a from-scratch sauce in place of canned soup and a homemade onion topping.
Bethany Taylor of Troutville, Virginia wanted to lighten her mother’s recipe for Potato Cheese Soup and asked us to help. Our Test Kitchen came up with Makeover Potato Cheese Soup, which has about 40 percent fewer calories, two-thirds less fat, less than half the saturated fat, about half the cholesterol and a third less sodium than the original. But it’s still a hearty, comforting classic.
Holiday Pumpkin Bread has been served in Gale Spross’ family for over 30 years. This Wills Point, Texas cook wanted to cut fat and sugar from the holiday treat. Our Test Kitchen slashed the fat by more than half, reduced the cholesterol by a third and shaved off 86 calories to create Makeover Holiday Pumpkin Bread.
Readers’ Light Tips
- I freeze bananas or fresh strawberries and top them with fat-free whipped topping or fat-free vanilla yogurt, then drizzle with chocolate syrup for a sweet treat with lower fat and calories. Or fix your favorite flavor of sugar-free instant pudding with fat-free milk. After it chills, top a serving with a small amount of crumbled graham crackers, chocolate jimmies or candy sprinkles. —Suzanne R., Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Want a unique way to make healthier deviled eggs? Try using up leftover mashed potatoes. I hard-cook the eggs, peel them and cut them in half. Then I discard the yolks, stir the seasonings and other ingredients into the mashed potatoes. Simply spoon the potato mixture into the egg white halves. These deviled eggs are lower in fat and cholesterol, and no one will know you used leftovers. —Sheri V., Burlington, Kansas
- I keep a six-pack of lunch-box size applesauce cups in my pantry. Anytime I’m making banana bread or other baked goods, I use one in place of some of the oil. Each measures about 1/2 cup of applesauce and adds nice moisture to the finished product. —Cindy L., Valley Center, California
- Want a grilled cheese sandwich without all the calories and fat that come from butter? Simply spray each slice of bread with butter-flavored cooking spray and cook as usual. My family never notices the difference. —Beth Y., Elkhart, Indiana
- I make mashed potatoes without adding butter or milk. First, I boil four to five medium potatoes and mash them. Then I stir in one undiluted can of 98% fat-free condensed soup (any cream variety is fine). I add a little seasoning to taste for creamy potatoes without all the fat. —Linda H., Beloit, Wisconsin
- For lighter and zestier fried fish, lightly brush tilapia fillets with fat-free Italian salad dressing. Then coat them with breadcrumbs and pan-fry the fillets in a small amount of olive oil and butter-flavored cooking spray. This eliminates the need for eggs ands gives the fish zippy flavor without requiring additional seasonings. —Marti B., Valley View, Ohio
- Like to enjoy apple pie a la mode for dessert, but can’t afford the calories? Try this trick. Heat up some applesauce in the microwave and pour it over a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Then sprinkle it with a little cinnamon and granola. —Martha P., Oregonia, Ohio