The Skinny on Comfort Food

Say yes to diet no-nos

Think your resolution to lose weight presages a gastronomic future that includes nothing but cans of green beans and lumps of cottage cheese?


Not this year! If this is your time to eat better, here’s great news: Good-for-you food doesn’t have to be boring. Try Carolina Woman’s fresh approach in which you feast your way to better health by luxuriating in beloved foods.


Yes, you can dig into lasagna, meatloaf or even pizza for dinner plus brownies, cheesecake or cupcakes to top it off – all without sabotaging your figure.


From savory entrees to luscious desserts, the full-fat finest can be transformed with body-conscious recipes. The following published cookbooks offer lean versions of some of the most desired dishes.

The Food You Crave

By Ellie Krieger
Published by The Taunton Press

Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf

This meatloaf puts me square in the comfort zone with all the homey flavors of mom’s recipe. Only this one is healthier, thanks to a couple of simple substitutions. First, it’s made with lean ground turkey. Second, instead of bread crumbs, I use a secret ingredient that binds everything together and keeps the meatloaf wonderfully moist: quick-cooking oats, a healthy whole grain that blends in undetected. All that meaty goodness is covered with tomato sauce and crowned with onion rings that turn golden brown, making for a beautiful presentation.

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 medium onion, peeled
2 pounds ground turkey breast
1/2 cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper (1/2 medium pepper)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
One 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir together the oats and milk and allow to soak while you get the rest of the ingredients together, at least 3 minutes.


Thinly slice one-quarter of the onion into rings and set aside. Finely chop the rest of the onion. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, oatmeal mixture, chopped onion, bell pepper, eggs, Worcestershire, ketchup, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix just until well combined.


Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and shape into a loaf about 5 inches wide and 2 inches high. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with the sliced onions. Bake until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour.


Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.


Yield: 8 one-inch-thick servings

Calories: 205 Total Fat: 3.5g — mono O 5g, poly 0g, sat 0.5g Protein: 32g Carb: 13g Fiber: 2g Chol: 98mg Sodium: 490mg

Carrot Cake Cupcakes With
Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

These cupcakes are moist, studded with nuts, fragrant with nutmeg and cinnamon, and topped with a velvety cream cheese frosting. Whenever I make them, I half expect a line to start forming outside my door!

For the cupcakes
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

For the frosting
4 ounces Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.


In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, the baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.


Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the walnuts. The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 3 days.


Yield: 12 cupcakes

Calories: 230 Total Fat: 10g — mono 3.5g, poly 3g, sat 2g Protein: 4g Carb: 32g
Fiber: 1.5g Chol: 42mg: Sodium: 220mg

Cooking Light Complete Cookbook: A Fresh New Way to Cook

By Cooking Light Magazine
Published by Oxmoor House

Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna

Here, you get seasoned eggplant slices in a savory tomato sauce as well as layers of noodles and cheese.

12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
Cooking spray
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
5 tablespoons (1-1/4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (12-ounce) carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 large egg white
1 (26-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


Combine 2 egg whites and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Dredge each eggplant slice in flour. Dip each in egg mixture and dredge in breadcrumbs. Place slices in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of slices with cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, turning eggplant after 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.


Combine 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, oregano, basil, ricotta, cottage cheese and 1 egg white in a large bowl.


Spread 1/4 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping, over pasta sauce; top with half of cheese mixture, half of eggplant slices and 3/4 cup pasta sauce. Repeat layers, ending with noodles.


Spread remaining pasta sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.


Cover; bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 35 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Yield: 9 servings

Calories: 432 Total Fat: 11g – mono 3.1g, poly 0.9g, sat 6.2g Protein: 28.3g Carb: 53.8g Fiber: 3.7g Chol: 58g Sodium: 976 mg

White Russian Tiramisu

Tiramisu is a popular Italian dessert with ladyfingers soaked in a liqueur mixture and layered with mascarpone cheese and grated chocolate. In this heavenly version, we’ve incorporated the flavors of a white Russian cocktail —Kahlúa and cream.

1/2 cup ground coffee beans
1-3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup Kahlúa (coffee-flavored liqueur), divided
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) mascarpone cheese or 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) cream cheese
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
24 ladyfingers (two 3-ounce packages)
3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, divided

Assemble drip coffee maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place ground coffee in coffee filter or filter basket. Add 1-3/4 cups cold water to coffee maker; brew to make 1-1/2 cups. Combine brewed coffee and 2 tablespoons Kahlúa in a shallow dish and cool.


Combine cheeses in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Add sugars and 2 tablespoons Kahlúa and beat until well blended.


Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise.


Quickly dip 24 ladyfinger halves, flat sides down, into coffee mixture; place dipped sides down in bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, slightly overlapping ladyfinger halves. Spread half of cheese mixture over ladyfingers and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon cocoa. Repeat with remaining ladyfinger halves, coffee mixture and cheese mixture.


Place a wooden pick in each corner and one in the center of tiramisu (to prevent plastic wrap from sticking to cheese mixture); cover with plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours. Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons cocoa before serving.


Yield: 12 servings

Calories: 134 Total Fat: 4.5g – mono 1.5g, poly 0.4g, sat 2.2g Protein: 3.3g Carb: 21.7g Fiber: 0g Chol: 31mg Sodium: 139 mg

Cooking Light
Annual Recipes 2009

By Cooking Light Magazine
Published by Oxmoor House

Beef Tenderloin With
Mustard and Herbs

Grill the meat first, and then coat it in the mustard and herb mixture for bright, fresh flavors. Spread the chopped fresh herbs on a sheet of plastic wrap so you can evenly coat the beef with minimal mess. Serve the tenderloin with grilled polenta and a simple salad.

1 (2-1/2-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Prepare grill.


Lightly coat beef with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Place beef on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Reduce heat to medium. Grill 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145 or desired degree of doneness, turning to brown on all sides.


Let beef stand 10 minutes.


Sprinkle parsley, thyme and rosemary in an even layer on an 18 x 15-inch sheet of plastic wrap. Brush mustard evenly over beef. Place beef in herb mixture on plastic wrap; roll beef over herbs, pressing gently. Cut beef into slices.


Yield: 10 three-ounce servings

Calories: 191 Total Fat: 9.4g –- mono 3.9g, poly 0.4g, sat 3.7g Protein: 23.4g Carb: 1.4g Fiber: 0.2g Chol: 71mg Sodium: 393mg

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Brownies users agree: Sweets are a top craving, and chocolate is in a class by itself. These rich brownies are just the ticket. Lining the pan with parchment paper helps prevent the moist brownies from sticking.

Cooking spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 3.4 ounces)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup water
5 tablespoons butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray.


Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine preserves, 1/3 cup water and butter in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Add preserves mixture to flour mixture; stir well. Add egg and egg white; stir until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired.


Yield: 16 servings

Calories: 155 Total Fat: 5.4g — mono 1.4g, poly 0.2g, sat 3g Protein: 2.2g Carb: 25.8g Fiber: 1.1g Chol: 23mg Sodium: 168mg

Kosher By Design Lightens Up: Fabulous Food for a Healthier Lifestyle

By Susie Fishbein and Bonnie Taub-Dix
Published by Mesorah Publications

Salmon Burgers

Use the freshest salmon you can for this wonderful light lunch or dinner dish. Fresh salmon never smells fishy and should look moist, never dry.


The addition of mustard packs a zesty zing for a mere 5 calories per teaspoon and brings with it some mighty health benefits.

2 pounds salmon fillets, pin bones and skin removed
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill whole
Wheat buns
Mesclun (combination of different types of wild or baby) lettuce

Slice the salmon into 2-inch strips. Place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Using on-off pulses, chop the salmon; don’t pulse too many times or you will grind the salmon too finely. Transfer the salmon to a medium bowl. Mix in the garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, dill and cayenne. Form into 6 patties.


Spray a large grill pan with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Cook the salmon burgers for 2-3 minutes per side, until just cooked through.


In a small bowl, stir the mustard with the vinegar and fresh dill.


To serve, place each burger on a bun. Top with the mustard dressing and lettuce.


Yield: 6 servings

(Nutritional information not supplied)


Lemon Cheesecake

I never met a cheesecake I didn’t like, so I can honestly say this was one of the most enjoyable recipes for me to develop. The cottage cheese adds a nice tang that complements the lemon and stands in for 16 additional ounces of cream cheese. (The food processor is a must in getting it to the right consistency.)


Don’t be tempted, in the spirit of healthfulness, to use nonfat cottage or cream cheese. The reduced-fat varieties are necessary, as a little bit of fat is needed. If you are used to eating full-fat cheesecake, this recipe will do wonders for your waistline without any compromise on taste or texture.


If you cannot find ground blanched almonds, just put some blanched slivered almonds into a food processor and pulse until they are ground.


Cottage cheese, even in its full-fat form (4% milkfat), is still a relatively low-fat food. Here are the comparisons: 1/2 cup creamed cottage cheese provides 108 calories and 4.7 grams of fat. The same amount of the 1% type is 81 calories and 1.2 grams of fat. Both supply the same amount of high-quality protein.

Nonstick cooking spray
25-30 low-fat lemon snap or vanilla wafer cookies
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds, firmly packed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups 1% cottage cheese
2 (8-ounce) blocks reduced-fat (not fat-free) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg whites (from large eggs)
Zest from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon flour
1 (6-ounce) container lemon-flavored low-fat yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Spray a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place it on a cookie sheet and set aside.


Place the cookies into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until crumbs form. Place 1 cup firmly packed crumbs into a medium bowl. Add the ground almonds. Mix in the melted butter. Stir to combine. Press into the bottom of the springform pan. Use an offset spatula to spread evenly.


Wash and dry the food processor. Add the cottage cheese and pulse until the cottage cheese is creamy.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and cottage cheese on medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar. Add the eggs, egg whites, lemon zest, lemon extract and flour. Beat until smooth, but do not overbeat. Pour into the pan.


Bake for 50-55 minutes for the 9-inch pan, 40-45 minutes for the 10-inch pan. The center will appear nearly set when gently shaken. It may seem loose, but the cheesecake will firm up as it chills. Remove from oven and cool completely. Spread lemon yogurt in a circle over the center of the cheesecake. Chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.


Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Release the sides of the pan.


Yield: 12 servings

(Nutritional information not supplied)

The Instinct Diet:
Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

By Susan B. Roberts and Betty Kelly Sargent
Published by Workman Publishing

Barbecue Vegetable Pizza

If you have time to make pizza from scratch, go for it. If not, look in your supermarket for pizza dough or pizza shells made with 100% whole-wheat flour. I like to use a strong Parmesan –- less cheese equals fewer calories. And if you cook the pizza on a grill, you’ll have a treat fit for kings!

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups white wheat bran
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Cooking oil spray
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably imported
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 cup steamed broccoli florets or raw mushroom slices
4 slices pepperoni (optional), cut in quarters

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


Mix together the flour, wheat bran, yeast, sugar and salt.
Add enough warm water to make a very soft but not sticky dough; start with 1 cup and add up to 1/4 cup more. The dough can be made in a mixer if you have a dough hook.
Knead the dough in the mixer for a couple of minutes or for 5 minutes by hand and then pull out the dough to make a large pizza that’s 14 inches in diameter.


Spray a pizza stone or baking sheet lightly with cooking oil spray. Place the pizza dough on top, cover it and let it rise for about 30 minutes.


Spoon the tomato sauce, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese, onion, bell pepper, broccoli or mushrooms, and pepperoni, if using, onto the pizza dough.


Bake until cooked through and browning nicely, 15 to 25 minutes.


Yield: 1 large pizza

Calories per 2 slices with pepperoni: 361 Total Fat: 5.5g – sat 2.1g Protein: 16.4g Carb: 70.9g, Fiber: 14.7g

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Imagine a cross between chocolate custard and bread pudding but with bran taking the place of the bread. Trust me -– delicious! You can freeze any leftover pudding for the next time it’s on your menu.

1-1/4 cups coarse bran (from regular red wheat, not white wheat)
1-1/4 cups nonfat or 1% milk
1 ounce good-quality bittersweet chocolate, such as imported Belgian chocolate
1/2 cup Egg Beaters, or 2 egg whites
2 to 3 teaspoons Dutch-process cocoa, such as Droste
Sugar substitute equivalent to 5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
6 tablespoons light whipped cream (optional), for serving

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Mix in the bran, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.


Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Turn off the heat, add the bittersweet chocolate and let it melt. Mix well with a whisk or fork.


Place the Egg Beaters or egg whites, cocoa, sugar substitute, sugar and vanilla or orange extract in a bowl and stir to mix. Add the milk with the melted chocolate and the soaked bran to the egg mixture and mix well.


Divide the pudding among 6 ramekins (small glazed ceramic serving bowls), spooning about 1/3 cup into each, and keep stirring to distribute the bran evenly. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and add 3/4 of an inch of cold water to the pan.


Bake the puddings until just set in the middle, 40 minutes to 1 hour (the time they take to set is very variable). Let cool slightly before topping with whipped cream, if desired.


Frozen puddings can be thawed by microwaving them on high power for 30 seconds, letting them stand for 2 minutes and then microwaving them again for 30 seconds.

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per one serving with whipped cream: 116 Total Fat: 3.3g – sat 1.4g Protein: 6.4g Carb: 20.9g Fiber: 5.8g