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15 Comfort Food Fixes

A healthier take on some classic favorites


Meat Loaf

Instead of making an all-beef brick, try a 50/50 mixture of lean ground round and ground turkey breast. Some preground turkey breast contains dark meat and skin, so if you're keeping a tab on calories, you're better off picking out the meat yourself and having your butcher grind it. Be warned, however, that turkey loaf can cook up dry. To keep your loaf moist, soak 1/2 cup of oatmeal in 1/2 cup of milk and add it to the meat mixture-you get tenderness plus an added shot of fiber. And to lower fat and calories even more, omit the egg yolk from your recipe. The whites will bind everything together just as well, while helping keep your loaf as lean as possible.

Burger

A good burger consists of one main ingredient: ground beef. Typically, the more fat the meat has, the tastier and juicer your burger seems. Does that mean you can't make a tasty burger without a lot of fat? Absolutely not. Go ahead and buy the leanest beef available, then jazz it up with a small diced onion, 1 packet of ranch-dressing mix, and 1 cup of fat-free shredded cheddar cheese (to enhance juiciness). Mix well, and grill the resulting patties as you would a typical hamburger.

Nachos

Rather than standard fried tortilla chips, opt for the baked variety. And instead of using cheese sauce that comes from a bottle or box, make your own. Don't worry, it's easy. Just dump 1 cup of skim milk and 1 1/2 cups of low-fat shredded cheddar cheese in a sauce pan, cook over medium heat, and stir until it's melted. Top your nachos with fat-free sour cream, salsa, and jalapenos - but not refried beans, which are often made with lard. For a leaner alternative, pop open a can of black beans and use a fork to mash them, along with a bit of vegetable oil, water, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heat the mixture in the microwave and serve with your chips.

Taco

A typical taco recipe has you cooking ground beef with a scoop of seasoning powder and then serving the meat in a corn shell. But if you make your taco with ground chicken or turkey, you can cut 43 calories from every shell. To keep the meat moist, add a can of diced tomatoes to the mixture and cook until it's thick. Rather than topping your taco with high-calorie options like shredded cheddar cheese and regular sour cream, try fat-free cheddar and sour cream, salsa, lettuce, and chopped tomato. (Since fat-free cheese never tastes good cold, add it to the meat sauce when it's hot so it melts right away.) Finally, if you want to be really good, ditch the fried taco shells and substitute whole-wheat flour tortillas instead for a serious high-fiber, calorie-saving boost.

Mac and Cheese

You can eat lean without giving up that infamous blue box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. All you need to do is change the way you prepare it. Start by skipping the butter for a savings of more than 300 calories and 30-plus grams of fat (you won't even know it's gone). As for the milk, opt for skim over whole. If you like your mac super creamy, try pouring in an extra half cup. And if you're feeling truly righteous, add 1 cup of defrosted chopped broccoli to your mac and cheese for a boost of C, folate, potassium, and fiber.

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