Traditional recipes

New Year’s Makeovers for Diet-Busting Comfort Foods

New Year’s Makeovers for Diet-Busting Comfort Foods

Let’s face it: most diets started on January 1st won’t last until Valentine’s Day, and one reason is an inability to kick the comfort food habit. And that creates cravings that can derail even the best-intentioned New Year’s resolutions.

The solution? Trick your taste buds with recipe makeovers that trim the fat and calories without losing any of the feel-good flavor and texture of the originals. You’ll get all the indulgent satisfaction without falling off the diet wagon. (Both your waistline and taste buds will thank you!)

You can start with recipes like Macaroni-and-Veggie Bake, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pizza, or Stovetop Veggie Lasagna from online meal planning service, eMeals (you can find the recipes here). Each has just 320 to 450 calories per serving, thanks to clever kitchen hacks like using the starch from the pasta’s cooking liquid instead of cream to help thicken the mac-and-cheese sauce.

When you’re ready for more comfort food remakes, use these handy cooking tips from registered dietitian Jessica Cox, the eMeals in-house culinary nutritionist, to lighten your own favorite recipes.

Skip the Cream (and “Cream of”)
Beware of any white sauce made with heavy cream, canned cream of chicken soup, or canned cream of mushroom soup; it’s a calorie, fat, and sodium bomb. You can whip up a slimmer and trimmer basic white sauce by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1½ cups of low-fat milk and 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth. Simmer, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg, if desired.

Bake Instead of Fry
Try oven-baking foods with different coatings like panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped nuts, or flaked unsweetened coconut; you’ll get the crispy crunchy texture of fried comfort foods without the added fat. Case in point: panko-crusted chicken fingers. Dip chicken tenders in beaten egg, and then dredge them in panko breadcrumbs. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Then, enjoy—guilt free.

Mash a Better Veggie
Use mashed cauliflower, parsnips, or turnips in place of carb-heavy potatoes to cut calories while simultaneously amping up the fiber and nutrients in a particular dish. Roast the vegetables instead of boiling them to deepen their flavor and reduce the amount of butter needed to perk up the taste when they’re mashed.

Halve the Meat
Making meatloaf? Replace half of the meat with cooked lentils and add shredded carrot and zucchini. Meat sauce? Trade half of 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, only with less fat and more nutrients.

Cook it Slow
A slow cooker transforms lean cuts of meat from tough to fork-tender. This easy, time-saving method helps control calorie and fat counts by using cuts like chuck roast and London broil in place of fattier varieties like skirt and strip steak. Bonus: You don’t need to add oil or butter to a slow cooker as you do when making a stovetop stew. Check out eMeals blog for a 270-calorie rendition of Crock-Pot Beef & Carrots Au Jus.

About eMeals
eMeals is the largest online meal planning service in the U.S., generating over 1 million meals per week for subscribers to more than 50 different meal plans designed for different eating styles, family size and grocery store preferences. Options include weekly Classic, Clean Eating, Budget Friendly, Kid Friendly, 30 Minute Meals, Slow Cooker, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Portion Control, Paleo, Low Carb, Gluten Free and Diabetic programs, along with breakfast and lunch plans. Menus, recipes and corresponding grocery lists are delivered directly to subscribers’ email inboxes and the eMeals mobile app every week for easy planning and fast, budget-conscious grocery shopping. The company was founded in 2003. For more information and to try a 14-day free trial subscription, visit

Lighten Up: 20 Tasty & Healthy Recipes for the New Year from Mr. Food

( 8 Votes)

You must be logged in to add a private note. Login | Register

My Notes

We are adding the recipe to your Recipe Box.

This was added to your Recipe Box.

You must be logged in to add a recipe. Login | Register

Share This Recipe

What is a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet?

The idea behind the whole-food, plant-based diet (WFPB for short) is surprisingly simple: Eat whole, unrefined, plant-based foods. So yes, that means meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs are off-limits, like a vegan diet. But it&rsquos not the same as a vegan diet because the emphasis isn&rsquot on eliminating those groups. Instead, the goal is to eat a large variety of minimally processed foods. And the best part? There aren&rsquot a bunch of rules or restrictions. There&rsquos no calorie counting, you don&rsquot have to worry about eating raw versus cooked and the list of things you can enjoy is robust.

Woman Finds Community and Comfort in the Cooking Light Diet

"You can easily get into a rut when cooking by buying the same ingredients and not knowing how to use other ingredients. None of those additions are fattening, but they add so much flavor. I appreciate grocery shopping, experimenting, and cooking in the kitchen so much more."

Before retiring in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband, Sara Fitzgerald worked as a journalist in new media development and interactive media policy,ਊnd started her own consulting company. Living so close to Washington D.C., she&aposs been involved with numerous presidential campaigns, including Presidents Bill Clintonਊnd Barack Obama. We recently spoke with Sara about how she discovered the Cooking Light Diet, and how it has changed her life since joining in February�.

How did you hear about the Cooking Light Diet?
I was an occasional reader of the magazine, and I always buy the holiday issues to find ways to make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners less fattening. I signed up this year [for the Diet] around the time when New Year’s resolutions are in full swing, but this year in particular, my husband and I didn’t go on our usual trip in January to a warm weather destination, so I didn’t have as much motivation to look good in a swimsuit sitting poolside.

Struggling to cook healthy? We'll help you prep.

Around February I looked in the mirror and thought, "This is the age where the extra pounds begin to show," and it’s really easy to find yourself sitting in front of the TV sipping on wine and snacking. I’m lucky that I’m already pretty healthy, but I didn’t want to take my health for granted, so I decided to do something about it. I started using different apps to track my food, but I signed up for the Diet in February of this year.

What are you favorite ways to lighten traditional holiday dishes?
Stuffing is something everybody loves, and I like to substitute farro and other interesting grains for bread. My son worked as a professional chef and went to culinary school, so I always like to step up my game during the holidays to catch his attention. Broccoli or green beans are great additions instead of more fattening foods to add some alternatives to the table.

Are there any holiday breakfast recipes you like to make for family?
Most of us think "Calories be damned" during holidays, but I’ve tried to lighten up breakfast with a breakfast strata. You can use lighter milk and cheeses when making casseroles and use different fillings. Baked eggs shakshuka is a novelty breakfast for family during holidays and a great way to throw in some festive red for Christmas. It’s a tomato and red pepper sauce that you can make ahead, freeze, and when you’re ready to eat, pop them in the microwave and add the egg on top.

I’ve also done zip-top bag eggs for guests and family. I make a buffet line of ingredients and everyone gets a quart size bag with two eggs and any ingredients and then we sous vide the eggs by cooking them in boiling water. Everyone is pleasantly surprised by the perfectly formed omelet at the end, and this breakfast is relatively low-cal in comparison to other holiday options.

Another one you could try is overnight French toast that would be easy for the holidays and you can keep it low-cal with whatever milk and flavorings you like. 

Does your husband enjoy the Cooking Light Diet recipes?
My husband is often surprised to find out when certain dishes that are really tasty are part of the Diet. We’re realizing you can still eat the things you like on the Diet, such as ice cream for dessert, but he’s been able to maintain his weight and probably even lose some weight during these months on the Diet together. 

Why do you personally enjoy the Diet?
You’re not starving yourself or bored with the options. I&aposve learned to pay more attention to the portion sizes and particularly for two people eating, we’ve gotten better at saving leftovers. You actually get to make the choices yourself, then the shopping list ensures you’ll have the things you need.

What kind of exercise do you enjoy?
I live in a very walkable community, and I’m part of an organized hiking group that meets biweekly. The key part of my exercise regimen is working for an hour, three times a week, with a personal trainer.

What do you think of Cooking Light Diet Facebook page?
The Facebook community is a great support system for weight loss. A virtual community is helpful because people can share information about recipes that work well, questions about a recipe, and share tips as you go along. It’s a good place to share those ideas without having to meet in person. 

How has the Diet improved your time in the kitchen?
You can easily get into a rut when cooking by buying the same ingredients and not knowing how to use other ingredients. I’ve really enjoyed perking up my taste buds with little things I’ve never tried that can make a big difference, such as goat cheese and Asian flavoring. None of those additions are fattening, but they add so much flavor. My neighbor across the hall is also doing the Diet, and we swap and share ingredients. I appreciate grocery shopping, experimenting, and cooking in the kitchen so much more. 

Join the Cooking Light Diet community today and see what Joan and thousands of other members have discovered using this revolutionary meal planning service. Thanks for sharing, Sara!

Members following the Cooking Light Diet, on average, lose more than a half pound per week


The subtle flavor and versatility of zucchini make it a top contender to incorporate some green into dishes and to lighten them up at the same time. Shred and mix zucchini with part-skim ricotta for a lighter pasta filling. Or layer thin slices in lasagna in place of pasta. Use zoodles (noodles made from zucchini) in the classic comforting chicken soup. Try zucchini paired with parmesan for tasty savory pancakes. And don&apost stop there, shredded zucchini is a stellar cake ingredient in these tasty little Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes.

Foods to Avoid After Surgery

It is just as important to look at which foods are slowing your body’s healing. Food can either be medicine or poison for your body. Although you might be desperately craving a sweet treat, remember that these foods can rob you of a quick healing time and increase your risk of infection.

  1. Added sugars. Food and drink with added sugar offer your taste buds a quick reward. But the added sugar is high in calories and gives your body no nutritional value. You may feel a short burst of energy and alertness but will quickly feel more drained and tired. Bacteria and viruses thrive on sugar, which is one more reason to avoid sugary foods after surgery. You want to keep your body strong since sugar will only weaken your body and strengthen the germs.
  2. Highly processed foods. After surgery, you may have a small appetite and be tempted to indulge in whatever sounds good. Highly processed foods are usually white, sweet and come in a package. Or they are artificially colored. These foods primarily provide your body with carbohydrates. This causes blood sugar spikes and high insulin levels. Both drain your body of energy and the ability to heal. Processed foods are also often stripped of fiber, which helps to keep your bowels moving. After surgery constipation can be a serious and uncomfortable condition. Counter this problem by adding extra vegetables and limiting processed foods in your diet.
  3. Alcohol. You might look forward to having a drink to unwind or relax post-surgery. But alcohol slows down the rate of blood clotting and makes your blood thinner. This can cause your incision to take longer to heal and you will also have an increased risk of bleeding. Alcohol also impairs your immune system, putting you at a higher risk for infection. Following surgery, you will heal faster when there is less swelling. Alcohol causes blood vessels to swell. One of the biggest reasons to avoid alcohol is how it affects your pain levels. You may think that a drink will help you feel better, but alcohol does not mix well with pain medication prescribed by your doctor. It can even be deadly to mix alcohol and pain pills.

Help Your Clients Get Ready for the New Year

It's almost time for New Year's resolutions! When motivation is running high and enthusiasm for health goals is stronger than usual, it's wise to seize the moment and help guide your clients to improve their health. After all, setting realistic goals and prioritizing issues correctly can go a long way towards actually achieving the resolutions that people love to try out in January.

Help your clients make their goals a reality with these fantastic posts and handouts.

New Year's Resolution Resources features top materials from the Nutrition Education Store, all of which can make it easy to set and achieve New Year's resolutions. This post emphasizes general wellness, weight management, and good health.

Best New Year's Resolutions focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables. Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN outlines a bunch of ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into an eating plan, along with tips and tricks to make those vegetables extra tasty!

Want to take things on a month-by-month basis, creating a path to wellness that lasts all year? If you do, then the New Year's Resolution Calendar by Beth Fontenot, MS, RD is the perfect post for you! With an emphasis on manageable goals and key health topics, this guide offers a balanced look at year-long wellness.

There's more than one resolution calendar in town, so if you're looking for a colorful and free PDF download, don't miss Free Resolution Calendar for the New Year! It's got simple and healthful ideas for all of 2016, laid out in an especially appealing way.

But wait, there's more! Year-long resolutions that focus on a different aspect of wellness each month are a favorite around here at Food and Health Communications, Inc. With research to back up the efficacy of such an approach and a achievable and reasonable goal each month, the post Resolve to Make Changes All Year has lots of ways to help your clients make 2016 the healthiest year yet!

Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick with this great post all about diet and exercise. Its practical tips and fun advice make it the perfect resource for people who have a hard time sticking to their goals.

24 Top New Year's Resolutions offers a variety of starting points for people who don't know what resolution might be best for them. With ideas about everything from diet to exercise to regular handwashing, this post has something for everyone.

Now let's get specific. Most Americans don't get enough dietary fiber every day. Don't let your clients fall into the same habits. Use the post Fiber Up for the New Year to explore the health benefits of fiber. There's also lots of information about where to find fiber and

Another focused guide to New Year's resolutions comes from the classic post New Year's Res-OAT-lutions by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN. This reader favorite comes from the early days of Food and Health's Communicating Food for Health newsletter and is still popular today. Check out its guide to the health impact of oats and consider offering that angle of focus to your clients for the new year.

And there you have it! A comprehensive look at some of the finest New Year's resolution resources we've ever published. For a special bonus, don't miss the monthly resolution PDF infographic, available for free right here!

And it will come as no surprise that there are still other New Year's resolution resources in the Nutrition Education Store. Here are some of this month's most popular options.

Reward Chart Poster Getting Started on the Path to Wellness: PowerPoint and Handout Set The 12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Loss Program

Related Posts

Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she’s not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.

8. Scope out the plant-based options at restaurants near you.

I highly recommend expanding your horizons when it comes to restaurants in your area! You might never know the best comfort food vegan restaurant is right around the corner from your office if you never look. I recommend HappyCow for finding plant-based options near you. Also, traveling is a great time to scope out plant-based options at restaurants, especially if you’re traveling to a bigger city like New York, Los Angeles, or D.C.

I have a guide of my favorite vegan-friendly restaurants in Denver and Boulder here!

Spoiler: They're just as sloppy as the meat version.

Your New Year's resolution just got way easier.

Cruises are coming back. Experts weigh in on how to stay safe.

Experts agree that the best precaution you can take is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

4 signs your phone has hidden malicious apps

Mobile malware can target your private information, including your phone number or email address, banking credentials, and contact lists.

AdPlace A Bag On Your Car Mirror When Traveling

Brilliant Car Cleaning Hacks Local Dealers Wish You Didn’t Know

Got pop-ups? Here are 3 ways to stop them, according to cybersecurity experts

Pop-ups can be a sign that something is off with your computer. Here's how to stop pop-ups, according to computer security experts.

A transgender teen is fighting to be called by his chosen name at graduation. Here’s why that’s so important.

“When asking to have his name read correctly while walking across the stage at graduation, senior Soren Tucker was refused outright,” notes a petition — so far signed by more than 18,700 people — supporting the Georgia teen.

Score Samsonite for a steal: Amazon's No. 1 bestselling suitcase is nearly 40 percent off

Traveling is about to take off, so make sure your next trip is a smooth one: 'The wheels spin and move like butter on a hot pan!'

100+ Healthy Dinner Ideas That'll Keep You Full Long After You Eat

A light and healthy recipe doesn't have to be boring.

Coming up with exciting, delicious dinners for your family can feel overwhelming, especially if you're trying to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal. In fact, finding the time, effort, and energy to create healthy meals that your kids will actually eat can feel downright impossible. But even the pickiest of eaters will love these healthy dinners, so before you know it the following light, easy recipes will be part of dinner rotation with no complaints.

From different types of pizzas, to tacos, to all of the kebobs they could possibly want, these recipes prove that healthy dinners don't have to be boring. "The components of a 'healthy' meal, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, are like the legs of a stool &mdash they all need to work together to give us strength and balance," Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of, author of Read It Before You Eat It &mdash Taking You from Label to Table, tells Woman's Day. "My recommendation for a meal trifecta is a combo of lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates, and healthy fats." Following Taub-Dix's trifecta allows you and your family to feel full and satisfied after eating, without relying on large portions or restrictive dieting. "As an example, a healthy plate for lunch or dinner should contain a protein like seafood, poultry, eggs, or beans a side of veggies or salad, and a whole grain like bread, farro, brown rice, or pasta," she says. "Adding fruit to your salad boosts this meal even further."

With over 100 light yet filling dinner recipes, you'll never substitute flavor for substance again. Packed with tasty, good-for-you ingredients, these recipes won't have your family scrounging the kitchen for after-dinner snacks, and there's enough variety to keep them interested every night.

Watch the video: ΠΡΩΤΟΧΡΟΝΙΑΤΙΚΕΣ ΕΥΧΕΣ (November 2021).