January = Comfort Food, Lightened Up

Brrr! Baby, it’s cold out there! Whoops, I guess we can’t say that anymore. Everyone, it’s cold out there! It’s the perfect time for fires, wool socks, and staying in with some good old home cooking. Hibernation feeds our hunger for comforting meals at home. Macaroni and cheese. Chili. Soups. Lasagne.

What do all of these meals have in common? They are delicious. They are classics. Our mothers may or may not have prepared these for us during childhood. And…all of these meals are high in calories. Who needs to pack on a few pounds over the winter? Here are a few lightened up version of some old comforting classics. Enjoy!

Lightened Up Turkey Meatballs (adapted from Genius Kitchen)

Turkey Meatballs
  • 1lb lean ground turkey 
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 14cup onion, finely chopped
  • 14cup parsley, chopped
  • 12teaspoon salt
  • 12teaspoon pepper
  • 12teaspoon oregano
  • 1egg, beaten
  • 12cup dry breadcrumbs

Mix all the ingredients and shape into 30 meatballs approximately 1″ across.

Spray a nonstick pan lightly with veggie oil.

Cook the meatballs for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through and nicely browned on the outside You will likely have to repeat the process for a second batch unless you have one big frypan!

Lightened Up Biscuits and Gravy (adapted from Taste of Home)

Makeover Biscuits & Gravy
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • GRAVY:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bulk chicken sausage
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk

Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add buttermilk; stir just until moistened.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 8-10 times. Pat dough into a 7×5-in. rectangle (about 1 in. thick); cut into six pieces. Place 2 in. apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and onion; cook 4-6 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and onion is tender, breaking up sausage into crumbles. Add garlic, thyme, pepper flakes and pepper; cook 30 seconds longer.

Add broth to pan. In a small bowl, mix flour and milk until smooth; stir into sausage mixture. Return to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 10-12 minutes or until thickened.

Split biscuits in half; serve warm with gravy.

Lightened Up Mac n Cheese (adapted from Cooking Light)

Image result for mac and cheese cavatappi
  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 pound uncooked cavatappi
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

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