For me, nothing says comfort like a creamy, cheesy, hot casserole right out of the oven.
I grew up in Wisconsin, which could have been called Casserole Central, USA. Cold winter days and nights gave me a craving for warm, hearty food. If I came home from school and the oven was on with a casserole inside, it was going to be a good night.
The downside of casseroles is their tendency to be not so good for you. Our Wisconsin casseroles had their fair share of cream soups and, of course, cheese (a MUST in America’s dairyland). So how does a girl from Wisconsin make over her casseroles to boost their healthiness? With some simple substitutions you can try:
- Sub in whole grains whenever possible. Brown rice, whole grain pasta, barley, quinoa and spelt are great for powering up nutrition.
- Reduce sodium and fat. Replace the classic ingredients of regular canned soups and broth with reduced sodium/ reduced fat versions.
- Boost the veggie factor. Simply double the amount of vegetables called for in a recipe. Frozen veggies work great and are so easy—just rip open the package and pour! If your recipe uses canned veggies, drain and rinse them first or use no-added salt versions.
- Change your cheese. It pains me to think about reducing my favorite ingredient. Instead of cutting it out, I go for lower fat varieties such as part-skim mozzarella. Alternatively, choose a flavorful cheese such as feta or Parmesan and just use less of it.
- Skim fat. Swap in nonfat plain or nonfat Yoplait Greek yogurt to replace sour cream. It gives a creamy texture and tartness with fewer calories and fat. Bonus: You add calcium and protein.
Are you also crazy for casseroles? I’d love to know your tricks for healthifying them!