Everyday Cheapskate: A Casserole Connoisseur's Guide to Healthy Substitutions
I grew up in church, literally. My father, the minister, saw to it that the preacher's kids never missed a gathering. Even when not a scheduled event, we were still in church cleaning, folding bulletins or just hanging out. I credit my heritage for my expertise as a connoisseur of the all-American casserole. There's just nothing quite like a potluck in the basement of a Baptist church to produce the finest, most authentic casserole cuisine.
It's easy to see why casseroles have fallen out of favor with the weight -- and health -- conscious crowd. One serving of some casseroles can harbor an entire week's worth of carbs or Weight Watchers points. Luckily, it's not difficult to trim the calorie count and step up the nutritional value of almost any casserole recipe around -- even those typically laden with high-fat ingredients. You can make healthier versions that taste just as good.
First, change the proportions by using more vegetables, beans and whole grains. Add fewer sauces, cheeses and fatty meats. Then, substitute reduced fat versions of ingredients like sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, cream cheese, salad dressing and condensed soups.
Choose the leanest meats such as skinless chicken breast, pork loin and beef round. Or use soy-based meat substitutes. Trim all visible fat and skin from the meat you're using.
The key to a healthy casserole is to choose recipes that call for:
Lots of vegetables
Legumes such as beans and lentils
Whole grain pasta or brown rice
Chicken, turkey or fish
Leaner cuts of beef, pork or lamb