Give your favorite comfort food recipes a makeover with these five simple tips to cut fat and calories and boost nutrients but keep all the comfort.
Skip the cream and “cream of”
Many casseroles get their rich, creamy texture from a white sauce made with heavy cream or from canned cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, which can be calorie, fat and sodium bombs. Make your own white sauce for a lighter yet still creamy base with far less fat and sodium.
For Basic White Sauce, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons flour and cook, while stirring, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 11/2 cups low-fat milk and 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Simmer, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg, if desired.
Bake, don’t fry
Oven frying allows you to enjoy the crispy-crunchy texture of fried foods without the added fat. Experiment with different breadings, like panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped nuts or flaked unsweetened coconut for a tropical flair.
For Panko-Crusted Chicken Fingers, dip chicken tenders in egg, and then dredge in panko breadcrumbs. Place in a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is done and crisp.
Mash a better veggie
Trade potatoes for cauliflower, parsnips or turnips to cut calories and carbs and boost fiber and nutrients in everyone’s favorite comfort food side dish. Deepen the flavor by roasting the vegetables instead of boiling them, and you may find that you need less butter for the final product. If you’re really craving potatoes, try using red-skinned potatoes and leave the skin on for an extra dose of fiber.
Half the meat
For meaty comfort foods, try substituting cooked lentils or beans or vegetables for half them meat. In meatloaf replace half the meat with cooked lentils and add shredded carrot and zucchini. Making meat sauce? Trade half the ground beef for finely chopped mushrooms. Burgers? Use half ground beef and half canned beans. Your meal will be more flavorful and just as comforting but with less fat and more nutrients.
Slow cook it
Leaner, tougher cuts of meat become tender when cooked low and slow in a slow cooker. Plus you don’t need to add oil or butter to a slow cooker as you when making a stovetop stew.