Favorite Casserole Recipes Made Lighter
3 new and healthy takes on classic casserole recipes.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
When the weather cools off, many of us long for comfort foods. And is any food more comforting than a casserole? But all too often, our favorite casserole recipes aren't exactly healthy. They often involve a blanket of cheese, or at least a sprinkle of it. Many also contain the obligatory can of condensed creamy soup. And while hot mayonnaise doesn't float my boat, plenty of casserole recipes call for mayo, too.
So what can we do to make our favorite casseroles lighter and healthier? Well, keep in mind that most casseroles have four predictable parts:
So, to give your favorite casserole recipe a healthy makeover, you have only to look at these four parts. You can:
For these healthy casserole recipe makeovers, I took on a breakfast casserole, a popular vegetarian casserole, and a festive chicken and stuffing casserole. By applying the light cooking tips above, I was able to trim:
For example, the original egg casserole recipe called for pastry, 8 ounces of bacon, four eggs, heavy cream, and 1 1/2 cups of Gruyere cheese. I substituted a whole-wheat pastry crust, 6 ounces of lean Canadian-style bacon, two eggs and some egg substitute, fat-free half and half, and 1 cup of Gruyere.
The original chicken casserole recipe, meanwhile, called for regular Swiss cheese, regular cream of chicken soup, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of butter drizzled over the top of the stuffing. Instead, I used reduced-fat Swiss cheese, light cream of chicken soup, fat-free half-and-half or low-fat milk. And instead of drizzling butter over the top of the stuffing, I used water.
The original eggplant Parmesan recipe called for dipping the eggplant slices in four beaten eggs; I used two eggs and 1/2 cup egg substitute. After being coated with breadcrumbs, the slices were supposed to be fried in a half-inch-deep bath of olive oil. Instead, I coated both sides with olive oil cooking spray and broiled them until golden brown. And instead of using two cups of whole-milk mozzarella for the layers of the eggplant Parmesan, I switched to reduced-fat mozzarella and cut it down to 1 1/3 cups.
And now for those light casserole recipes:
Light Swiss Chicken & Stuffing Casserole
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: 373 calories, 38 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 87 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 638 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 22%.