Baked Mac N’ Cheese
It wouldn’t be a Southern feast without mac n’ cheese. Luckily, this healthy version from Host the Toast packs major flavor without all the excess fat and calories. The secret ingredient? Cauliflower! Simply combine cooked, pureed cauliflower with cheddar cheese, evaporated milk, and some fat free cream cheese to create a creamy sauce that’s just as satisfying as full-fat versions. And since this dish has just 213 calories per serving, you don’t have to feel guilty about reaching for seconds.
Shrimp and Grits
This Southern staple tends to be loaded with cream and butter. But in this recipe from The Foodie Physician, cooking the grits in chicken stock and milk cuts way back on calories while still infusing the grits with flavor and giving them a creamy texture. The shrimp is cooked in heart-healthy olive oil (instead of traditional butter or bacon grease) and tossed with Cajun seasoning to pump up the flavor. Adding some chopped red pepper to the dish adds nutrients – feel free to play around with other vegetables like kale or collard greens.
These dark leafy greens are a great source of calcium and vitamin A, with a 1/2-cup serving providing 35 percent of the daily recommended value of the latter. This easy collard greens recipefrom Hilah Cooking swaps butter for heart-healthy olive oil, cutting down on unhealthy saturated fats. In place of fatty bacon and ham, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt add flavor and keep sodium levels in check.
Chicken and Waffles
The perfect balance of sweet and savory, chicken and waffles is a beloved comfort-food favorite. But because it’s high in calories, sugar, and unhealthy saturated fats, it’s a treat that needs to be enjoyed in extreme moderation. Luckily, Chef Richard of Recipe Rehab gave the dish a makeover, keeping the calories at a manageable 319 per serving. In his Crispy Chicken Whole Wheat Waffles, the chef uses olive oil in place of butter, and cuts down on fat by baking the chicken instead of deep-frying it in lard or vegetable oil.
These deep-fried cornmeal balls may be a popular appetizer (and a tasty one at that!), but they’re seriously lacking in the nutrition department. You can boost the health factor by adding chia seeds to the batter for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, like in this Not Fried Hush Puppies recipe from The Organic Dietitian. Chopped onions increase the vitamin C and fiber content for a better-for-you appetizer that’s also vegan and gluten-free.
What’s a Southern feast without a side of cornbread? In this recipe, blogger Southern in Law effortlessly swaps white, granulated sugar for unsweetened applesauce, which not only lends natural sweetness to the batter, but works as a great butter alternative, too. Water or unsweetened non-dairy milk works just as well as buttermilk and cuts down on saturated fats even more. You can also add flaxseed to the cornbread, which adds a very mild nutty taste for an extra boost of vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Traditionally breaded in cornmeal batter and deep-fried in vegetable oil, shortening, lard, or bacon drippings, fried okra isn’t known for its health benefits. But the delicious veggie bites get a healthy makeover with Love and Zest’s Oven ‘Fried’ Okra recipe. Breaded in a spice mixture of garlic powder, salt, and pepper, fresh okra is baked instead of fried, eliminating unhealthy saturated fats and empty calories. A scrumptious way to serve up the summer vegetable and get a dose of fiber, folate, magnesium, and vitamin C!
For the full recipes go to: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/recipe-of-the-day/healthified-southern-comfort-foods/