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57 Secretly Healthy Recipes Grandma Used to Make

Grandma was known for her hearty, homestyle dishes and could even make you believe her healthier dinners were pure comfort food.

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Grandma Edna's Cajun PorkTaste of Home

Grandma Edna's Cajun Pork

My grandma used to make this for our family on special occasions. We love to carry on the delicious tradition. —Tonya Cline, Greenville, Ohio

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Great-Grandma's Italian MeatballsTaste of Home

Great-Grandma's Italian Meatballs

My great-grandmother started this easy meatball recipe with our family. We use ground beef and turkey for these meatballs, and the flavor’s so good, you won’t miss the extra calories. —Audrey Colantino, Winchester, Massachusetts

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Wild Rice Bread with Sunflower SeedsTaste of Home

Wild Rice Bread with Sunflower Seeds

I loved skipping the boring school cafeteria meals and going to my grandma’s house for lunch. She spent most of her life in northeastern Minnesota, which is reflected in this bread's ingredients. Now my family uses this for our holiday stuffing. —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado

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Hearty Vegetable Lentil SoupTaste of Home

Hearty Vegetable Lentil Soup

My mother has diabetes, so I often prepare this dish for her. I wanted a hearty soup that hits the spot on cold autumn nights, so I paired the lentils with turkey bacon and a handful of spices. —Nicole Hopping, Pinole, California.

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Cheese Smashed PotatoesTaste of Home

Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Who doesn't like mashed potatoes? Try this slimmed-down dish with any entree. —Janet Homes, Surprise, Arizona

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Garden Vegetable CornbreadTaste of Home

Garden Vegetable Cornbread

When I was a kid, my parents would make cornbread for my siblings and me. We would slather butter and maple syrup over the warm bread—it was delicious. Today I experiment a lot with recipes, just as my grandma and mom did, and that's how my version of their easy cornbread recipe was born! —Kim Moyes, Kenosha, Wisconsin

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Colcannon Irish PotatoesTaste of Home

Colcannon Irish Potatoes

My mother came from Ireland as a teen and brought the comforting recipe with her. I find that it's a great way to get my family to eat cooked cabbage...hidden in Grandma's potatoes! —Marie Pagel, Lena, Wisconsin

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Rice with Collard Greens RelishTaste of Home

Rice with Collard Greens Relish

This is a staple in my country of origin, Zimbabwe. It is served with sadza; a cornmeal-based stiff porridge that is used like rice or potatoes in other cultures. —Loveness Murinda, Upland, California

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Beet BorschtTaste of Home

Beet Borscht

My mother used to make this hearty soup from her garden's bountiful crop of beets and other vegetables. —Ruth Andrewson, Leavenworth, Washington

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Turkey ChiliTaste of Home

Turkey Chili

I've taken my mother's turkey chili recipe and made it thicker and more robust. It's a favorite, especially in fall and winter. —Celesta Zanger, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

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Green Bean Salad with Creamy DressingTaste of Home

Green Bean Salad with Creamy Dressing

My grandmother passed on this refreshing side dish recipe. It’s always devoured at my house. —Jodi Galanis, Murray, Utah

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Southwestern Sauteed CornTaste of Home

Southwestern Sauteed Corn

My mother-in-law came up with this corn skillet dish one night for dinner. Everyone who tries it absolutely loves it! —Chandy Ward, Aumsville, Oregon

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Roast Pork with Apples & OnionsTaste of Home

Roast Pork with Apples & Onions

The sweetness of the apples and onions nicely complements the roast pork. With its crisp skin and melt-in-your-mouth flavor, this is my family's favorite weekend dinner. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia

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Teriyaki Beef StewTaste of Home

Teriyaki Beef Stew

As they say, "necessity of the mother of invention." I created this recipe because I had a package of stew meat I needed to use. I spotted the ginger beer in the fridge and rest was history. This stew has a delicious sweet-tangy flavor. It's nice to have a different way to serve an inexpensive meal. —Leslie Simms, Sherman Oaks, California

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Saucy Raspberry ChickenTaste of Home

Saucy Raspberry Chicken

I first had this as a teenage babysitter, when the children’s mom prepared it for us to eat while she was out. The kids loved it, and so did I! Now I make it for my own kids.

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Smoked Salmon QuicheTaste of Home

Smoked Salmon Quiche

My son fishes for salmon on the Kenai River in Alaska and smokes much of what he catches. My mother passed this recipe on to me to help me find new ways to cook with salmon. Regular salmon also works in this quiche, but the smoked flavor can't be beat! —Rose Marie Cherven, Anchorage, Alaska

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Turkey Enchilada StackTaste of Home

Turkey Enchilada Stack

As a child, my husband was one of the pickiest kids around, but my mother-in-law could always get him to dig in to this enchilada dish. —Ashley Wolf, Alabaster, Alabama

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Rhubarb Compote with Yogurt & AlmondsTaste of Home

Rhubarb Compote with Yogurt & Almonds

My Grandma Dot used to make rhubarb compote and always had some in the freezer when I came to visit. This breakfast is a tribute to her. No two stalks of rhubarb are exactly alike, so make sure to taste the compote before you chill it. It should be tart, but sometimes it needs a little extra sugar. —Michael Hoffman, Brooklyn, New York

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Mediterranean Broccoli & Cheese OmeletTaste of Home

Mediterranean Broccoli & Cheese Omelet

My Italian mother-in-law taught me to make this omelet years ago—she would make it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and eat it on Italian bread. This is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover broccoli. —Mary Licata, Pembroke Pines, Florida

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Poached Salmon with Dill & TurmericTaste of Home

Poached Salmon with Dill & Turmeric

This is among my husband's favorites because it's always moist, tender, juicy and delicious. It's a quick, simple way to prepare salmon, and the robust turmeric doesn't overpower the taste of the fish. —Evelyn Banker, Elmhurst, New York

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Green Bean and Potato SaladTaste of Home

Green Bean and Potato Salad

For family reunions, my mom would make everybody's favorite green bean and potato salad. Now I'm the one who brings it. —Connie Dicavoli, Shawnee, Kansas

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Fish Tacos with GuacamoleTaste of Home

Fish Tacos with Guacamole

Fish tacos are my new favorite thing—lighter and healthier than beef tacos smothered in cheese. Try adding tomatoes, green onions and chopped jalapeno on top. —Deb Perry, Traverse City, Michigan

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Quick Shrimp CreoleTaste of Home

Quick Shrimp Creole

My mother made shrimp Creole when I was growing up, so I’ve carried on the family tradition. For extra kick, pass the Louisiana hot sauce. —Gina Norton, Wonder Lake, IL

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Quick Mushroom Barley SoupTaste of Home

Quick Mushroom Barley Soup

I surprised my mother with a visit some years ago, and she was preparing this soup when I walked in. It was so wonderful that I asked for the recipe, and I’ve been fixing it ever since. —Edie Irwin, Cornwall, New York

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Cabbage Roll SkilletTaste of Home

Cabbage Roll Skillet

Have a happy helping of this quicker take on something our grandmothers would make. We serve it over brown rice. It also freezes well. —Susan Chickness, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

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Italian Artichoke-Green Bean CasseroleTaste of Home

Italian Artichoke-Green Bean Casserole

My mother and I made a few small changes to a recipe we found in a cookbook to create this comforting side dish. We increased the vegetable count and tossed in some seasonings to take the flavor up a notch. It's definitely not your average green bean casserole. —Denise Klibert, Shreveport, Louisiana

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Roasted Carrots & FennelTaste of Home

Roasted Carrots & Fennel

This addictive vegetable combo is a fresh take on one of my mother's standard wintertime dishes. I usually add more carrots—as many as the pans will hold. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia

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Cod with Hearty Tomato SauceTaste of Home

Cod with Hearty Tomato Sauce

My father made up this sweet, flavorful recipe for my mother when he took over the cooking. We serve it with whole wheat pasta or brown rice. —Ann Marie Eberhart, Gig Harbor, Washington

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Loaded Potato-Leek SoupTaste of Home

Loaded Potato-Leek Soup

When I was growing up, my mother made potato and onion soup because it was affordable and fast. I’ve trimmed the calories, and it’s still a comforting family favorite. —Courtney Stultz, Weir, Kansas

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Coconut Lentils with RiceTaste of Home

Coconut Lentils with Rice

Years ago I made this recipe for my kids, and they loved it. One of my daughter's friends would always request this dish when she came over to visit. I recommend basmati rice for this dish. —Diane Donato, Columbus, Ohio

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Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Goat CheeseTaste of Home

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Goat Cheese

I wanted to up my veggie game, so I smothered Brussels sprouts with garlic and goat cheese. It's really a side dish, but I love to eat it for lunch! —Brenda Williams, Santa Maria, California

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Turkey Sausage Cabbage RollsTaste of Home

Turkey Sausage Cabbage Rolls

I practically grew up in my Polish grandmother's kitchen, watching Babci cook and listening to her stories. I made her cabbage roll recipe healthier with whole grains and turkey, but kept the same rich flavors I remember. —Fay Moreland, Wichita Falls, Texas

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Cape Cod Bay Brown BreadTaste of Home

Cape Cod Bay Brown Bread

This reminds me of the brown bread my grandmother made whenever we went out east to visit. The aroma evokes fond memories of her New England home during the peak of fall. I use blackstrap molasses and agave nectar to make mine a little different without sacrificing any of the flavor. Cranberries are another special touch, but this would also taste delicious with raisins. —Kellie Foglio, Salem, Wisconsin

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Mama's Warm German Potato SaladTaste of Home

Mama's Warm German Potato Salad

My grandmother, Mama, made this potato salad for every family gathering at her home. The relatives would arrive with their specialties in hand. She never wrote the recipe down, so I had to re-create it from memory. Years later, it's just about right. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida

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Zucchini Panzanella SaladTaste of Home

Zucchini Panzanella Salad

I learned how to make panzanella from my friend's grandmother. Once I discovered how to make the perfect vinaigrette, it became a dish I crave during the summer. It's also a great way to use day-old bread and your garden's bounty of zucchini. —Felicity Wolf, Kansas City, Missouri

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English Pub Split Pea SoupTaste of Home

English Pub Split Pea Soup

This family favorite is the same recipe my grandmother used. Now with the magic of the slow cooker, I can spend 15 minutes putting it together, walk away for five hours, and come back to "soup's on." Finish it with more milk if you like your soup a bit thinner. —Judy Batson, Tampa, Florida

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Lemon-Garlic Lima BeansTaste of Home

Lemon-Garlic Lima Beans

When I was growing up on Cyprus, my mother would often make this side dish to have with roast lamb. Although I hated lima beans when I was a kid (who didn't?), I love them now. They always remind me of home. —Paris Paraskeva, San Francisco, California

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White Beans and SpinachTaste of Home

White Beans and Spinach

This skillet side is a variation of a recipe I received from my Italian mother. I've prepared spinach this way for years—because my children eat it happily! —Lucia Johnson, Massena, New York

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Gingered Pepper SteakTaste of Home

Gingered Pepper Steak

This wonderfully tender steak is a treat even for folks not watching their diet. When my mother-in-law shared the recipe, she said it cooks up in no time...and she was right! —Susan Adair, Somerset, Kentucky

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Tangerine Tossed SaladTaste of Home

Tangerine Tossed Salad

My mother taught me how to cook when I was a young girl. The sweet tangerines and crunchy caramelized almonds make this one of my favorite recipes. —Helen Musenbrock, O'Fallon, Missouri

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Busy-Day Pork ChopsTaste of Home

Busy-Day Pork Chops

It was time to use or lose some pork chops I had in the fridge, so I dressed them in bread crumbs and Parmesan and baked them up. Necessity sure is the mother of invention, and in this case I invented an amazing healthy pork chop recipe. —Dee Maltby, Wayne, Ohio

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Mom's Gingered Apple SaladTaste of Home

Mom's Gingered Apple Salad

Here’s a refreshing twist on the classic Waldorf salad. Seasoned with ginger, dried cranberries and water chestnuts, this combo is quick and delicious. —Rebekah Radewahn, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

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No-Fuss Avocado Onion SaladTaste of Home

No-Fuss Avocado Onion Salad

My mother, Nena, grew up in Cuba and learned many styles of cooking. She had a knack for making something incredibly simple taste amazing. This salad is proof. By itself, the dressing is really tart, but add the avocados and onions and it's the perfect complement. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California

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Lamb StewTaste of Home

Lamb Stew

My grandmother used to make this stew as a special Sunday meal. It's an unforgettable treat from Ireland. —Vickie Desourdy, Washington, North Carolina

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Mom's Tangy Potato SaladTaste of Home

Mom's Tangy Potato Salad

This chunky potato salad is a great dish for a family picnic or on a night when you're grilling out. The homemade dressing makes it extra delicious. —Michelle Gurnsey, Lincoln, Nebraska

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Almond ColeslawTaste of Home

Almond Coleslaw

As a twist to my mother's original recipe, I added toasted almonds for more crunch, taste and nutrition. —Sarah Nevin, Gila, New Mexico

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Turkey Sausage Bean SoupTaste of Home

Turkey Sausage Bean Soup

This recipe is from my great-grandmother, though I've added a few ingredients to make it my own. Serve it with a side salad and some artisan bread for a wonderful, hearty family dinner. —Terrel Porter-Smith, Los Osos, California

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Sweet & Sour PorkTaste of Home

Sweet & Sour Pork

My grandmother made this for me on Valentine's Day when I was a child. Now I make it for my children on Valentine's. I usually make brown rice or rice noodles and add thinly sliced Bok Choy to up the vegetable intake. I've never had leftovers. —Barbara Hinterberger, Buffalo, New York

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Wendy's Apple Pomegranate SaladTaste of Home

Wendy's Apple Pomegranate Salad

My grandparents grew pomegranates, pecans and walnuts and would send us some each year. Some of my best memories are the days I used to spend with my grandmother learning how to cook with her. Whenever I make this, it's like having lunch with my grandmother again. —Wendy Ball, Battle Creek, Michigan

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Grilled Street CornTaste of Home

Grilled Street Corn

Mexican food is my grandmother’s favorite. I wanted a perfect side for her legendary tacos, and this chile-lime grilled corn turned out to be just right. —Ashley Crainshaw, Shawnee, Kansas

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Salmon with Mango-Citrus SalsaTaste of Home

Salmon with Mango-Citrus Salsa

My mother would make this for us on weeknights in summer—this was the only way we would eat fish. You can make the salsa a day ahead of time. Just keep it in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. —Najmussahar Ahmed, Canton, Michigan

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Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Yogurt SauceTaste of Home

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

I created my own cauliflower recipe in honor of my grandma, who taught me to love this delicious and healthy vegetable. She cooked with it all the time.—Lidia Haddadian, Pasadena, California

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Ginger Halibut with Brussels SproutsTaste of Home

Ginger Halibut with Brussels Sprouts

I moved to the United States from Russia and love cooking Russian food for family and friends. Halibut with soy sauce, ginger and pepper is a favorite. —Margarita Parker, New Bern, North Carolina

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Slow-Cooker Country Captain ChickenTaste of Home

Slow-Cooker Country Captain Chicken

Legend has it that the recipe for country captain chicken was brought to Georgia in the early 1800s by a British sea captain. Although it's traditional to serve this over rice, it's also delicious with noodles or mashed potatoes. —Suzanne Banfield, Basking Ridge, New Jersey

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Meatball Cabbage RollsTaste of Home

Meatball Cabbage Rolls

My mother often had these cabbage rolls simmering in her slow cooker when my family and I arrived at her house for weekend visits. The mouthwatering meatballs tucked inside made these stand out from any other cabbage rolls I've tried. —Betty Buckmaster, Muskogee, Oklahoma

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Maple-Roasted Chicken & Acorn SquashTaste of Home

Maple-Roasted Chicken & Acorn Squash

When I became a new mother, my mom helped me find comforting and simple recipes to have on hand. This terrific roast chicken is a happy discovery. —Sara Eilers, Surprise, Arizona

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Pork Chops & MushroomsTaste of Home

Pork Chops & Mushrooms

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe years ago, and I have used it ever since. My family loves the sweetness with a little kick.—Hilary Rigo, Wickenburg, Arizona

Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.

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