How to Lighten Up a Family Favorite Dish

I find some dishes are easy to lighten up and can easily be made more healthy, with others its best to just eat a very small portion of it. Here are some of my tips:

  1. Scan the recipe ingredients
  2. Look for easy substitutions
    • can you use ground chicken or turkey instead of beef?
    • can you do part chicken/turkey instead of all beef?
    • do you even need meat in the dish?
    • can you substitute zucchini noodles, butternut squash, cauliflower rice, etc if it has a rice or pasta base?

Other ways to lighten dishes:

  • Use oil spray instead of butter or oil when browning meats
  • Use a non-stick pan to save on butter and oil points/calories
  • If your dish contains cheese, can you just use less and maybe sprinkle it on top?
  • Can you “bulk” it up with more veggies? This also makes the dish go further as well.
  • Can you use less sugar or add in some apple sauce?

For Desserts: 

  • Adjust your portion size by making them “mini.” Examples – mini cupcakes, mini scones, mini bites.
  • Use phyllo cups instead of pie crusts and make the desserts individual and small.
  • Adjust the sugar if you can.
  • Use low fat 2% milk or light sour cream, and low fat sweetened condensed milk instead of the full fat versions.

With desserts, it’s often harder to lighten them up other than reducing the sugar and changing the portion size.  When you start using “fat-free,”  “sugar-free substitutes”, I find I don’t like them, plus I don’t want to use all of the artificial ingredients as I don’t think they are very good for you.

My motto with desserts is: I would rather have a “little tiny piece of heaven,” (the real thing) than change the entire recipe to something unrecognizable. Thus the reason you don’t see a lot of “healthy” desserts on my website. I prefer to make them mini and while the point/calorie count may be high, at least you can plan for a nice splurge.