Spaghetti & Meatballs
Use whole grain pasta instead of noodles made from refined flour. Skip the hamburger in your tomato sauce and use large pieces of mushrooms, peppers, onions, celery, carrots and other veggies. Add canned tuna instead of ground beef or sausage—it tastes great, reduces saturated fat and cholesterol, and provides protein and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
Serve with minestrone soup, a garden salad with a fat-free dressing and garlic bread made with a fat-free butter substitute or olive oil and roasted garlic on whole grain bread. Try turkey meatballs, made from breast meat, bound with seasoned bread crumbs and egg whites or skim milk.
Make a heart-healthy pizza with the gooey taste you love. Simply skipping the meat toppings can reduce calories by 20 to 30 percent, while eliminating most of the saturated fat, cholesterol and preservatives. Use a thin, whole grain crust. Pre-heat veggies before you put the pizza in the oven to help them soften and get their sugars to come out and sweeten them.
Use less cheese than normal. Sprinkle enough low-fat cheese on top to cover the pie, but don’t worry if you can see some sauce through your cheese layer. Remember, a good crust and sauce will provide plenty of flavor, along with your cheese. Read the nutrition labels on pasta and pizza sauces to find the ones with the lowest number of calories and bad fats.
Can a burrito taste good if you skip the meat filling, sour cream, cheese and guacamole? Absolutely, if you provide plenty of moist, tasty filling items. Use fat-free refried beans, salsa, lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, avocados, low-fat cheese and whole wheat tortillas. Caramelize onions and red and green peppers in light olive oil, lime juice, cilantro and a little chili powder for a flavorful stuffing. If you don’t like refried beans, try whole black beans with seasoned, whole grain rice.
Take your favorite chili recipe, use a vegetable stock instead of chicken or veal stock and skip the meat for a tasty vegetarian chili. Add kidney beans and whole grain spaghetti noodles for more flavor.
Burgers & Fries
Use lean turkey breast for burgers and skip the mayo and cheese. Moisten with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado or salsa. Serve on a whole wheat bun. Serve with “fries” you bake instead of drop into oil.
Leave the skins on thick-cut slices of potato and bake on a rack in the oven. Try using sweet potatoes for more nutrition. Sprinkle with a blend of seasonings such as salt, pepper, paprika, onion salt, garlic salt or others you like. Watch the sodium if that’s a problem for you.
Decrease the fat and calories in chicken fingers by eliminating the egg yolk in your wash and bake them, instead of frying. Use chicken from the breast, and season the meat with your favorite spices. Coat in a wash of skim milk and egg whites, then lightly coat with season bread crumbs, crushed corn flakes or panko. Bake the fingers on a rack to let the fat drip off during cooking. You can skip the egg whites, and/or add your seasoning to the flour, since you won’t be deep frying these.
Make your meatloaf from ground turkey, rather than the traditional beef, pork and veal mixture. Turkey breast meat is very dry, but very sweet. Add moisture with a low-fat barbecue or other sauce of your choosing. You can bind the meat with bread crumbs, egg whites and skim milk.
Dice up large chunks of vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery, peppers, mushrooms and potatoes for a one-pan meal. Drain excess fat from the meatloaf about halfway through the cooking process, or place it in a pan with holes in the bottom and bake over a rack to catch the drippings.