Craving Comfort Foods? Try These Tips to Trim Your Favorites

Slower Cooker BeefThe New Year is approaching and those resolutions are brewing. Diets and healthier eating are often at the top of the list. But it can be hard during the winter months when you’re craving your favorite comfort foods. Here are some tips to trim down those recipes.

  1. Skip the Cream – Creamy dishes taste oh so good. But, beware of white sauces made with heavy cream or canned cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup. They are loaded with calories, fat and sodium. You can make a slimmer version of a basic white sauce by melting 3 Tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1 ½ 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 even nutmeg, to taste.
  2. Bake Instead of Fry – Oven-frying with a variety of breadings such as panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped nuts or flaked unsweetened coconut gives you the crispy crunchy texture of fried comfort foods without the added fat. Try these delicious Panko-Crusted Chicken Fingers. Dip chicken tenders in beaten egg, and then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Place in a rimmed baking sheet coated with light cooking spray; bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, and enjoy the crunch without the grease.
  3. Mash a Different Vegetable – Use mashed cauliflower, parsnips or turnips instead of carb-heavy potatoes to cut calories while increasing fiber and nutrient consumption. Roast the vegetables instead of boiling them to deepen the flavor, thereby reducing the amount of butter needed when mashing.
  4. Invest in a Slow Cooker - A slow cooker transforms lean cuts of meat from tough to fork-tender. This easy, timesaving method helps control calorie and fat counts by using trimmer cuts like chuck roast and London broil in place of fatty varieties like skirt and strip steak. Plus, you don’t need to add oil or butter to a slow cooker as you do when making a stovetop stew. You can throw it all in the pot in the morning and come home to a delicious low-calorie dinner.
  5. Replace Half the Meat – Making meatloaf? Replace half the meat with a substitute such as cooked lentils and add shredded carrot and zucchini. Meat sauce? Trade half the ground beef for finely chopped mushrooms. Burgers? Use half ground beef and half canned beans. Your meal will be just as flavorful and comforting, with less fat and more nutrients.