3 Familiar Dinners Made Healthier- Dean - WI

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Published on February 18, 2015

3 Familiar Dinners Made Healthier

These recipes taste just as delicious as their originals, with a few wholesome substitutions.

Turkey Chili

This hearty stew replaces beef with lean turkey, calls for a low-sodium chicken stock and is full of good-for-you veggies and beans. Top with low-fat sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese and diced green onion. It’s so filling, you can serve it on its own or with a side salad or chunk of whole-wheat bread.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 tbsp minced garlic

¼ cup chopped bell pepper

1 lb lean ground turkey

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, with liquid

1 16-oz can kidney beans, drained

1 tbsp chili powder

2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1 tsp hot sauce

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano to taste


  1. Sauté garlic, onion and pepper in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add ground turkey, stirring until brown.
  3. Combine vegetables and turkey with all other ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 5 servings

Baked Mac

This twist on the classic comfort food calls for whole-wheat noodles so your family gets enough fiber. Low-fat cottage cheese is substituted for heavy cream to cut down on unnecessary fat. The hidden layer of spinach in the middle is perfect for picky eaters who snub their veggies.


3 tbsp whole-wheat breadcrumbs

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 16-oz package frozen spinach, thawed

1¾ cups low-fat milk

3 tbsp flour

2 cups low-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

2 cups whole-wheat elbow macaroni

¼ tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Boil a pot of water and add macaroni. Cook until not quite tender, then drain.
  3. Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a bowl.
  4. Strain excess moisture from spinach.
  5. Warm 1½ cups of the milk over medium-high heat in a saucepan until steaming.
  6. Mix flour and the remaining ¼ cup milk in a separate bowl until smooth, then add to the saucepan of milk and whisk continuously until the sauce simmers and thickens, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in cottage cheese, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese until melted.
  8. Add macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  9. Pour half the pasta in the baking dish. Spread the spinach over it, then pour the other half of the pasta on top.
  10. Top the dish with breadcrumbs and bake for about 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings


Black Bean Burgers

These simple veggie burgers are a great option for families who want to reduce the red meat from their diet. Black beans are high in fiber, a good source of protein with little fat and rich in vitamins and minerals. Serve these burgers with a side of baked sweet potato fries your kids will love.


1 16-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ green bell pepper

½ onion

3 cloves peeled garlic

1 egg

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp hot sauce

½ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat grill or grill pan on high heat.
  2. Pour beans into a bowl and mash with a fork until thick and sticky.
  3. In a food processor, chop pepper, onion and garlic. You may need to slice the pepper and onion into chunks before adding to the food processor. Then add mashed beans.
  4. Mix egg, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce in a bowl.
  5. Combine bean and egg mixtures with breadcrumbs and mix until sticky.
  6. Form into 4 patties and place on foil.
  7. Grill 8 minutes on each side.

Yield: 4 servings

What are your favorite healthy twists on classic recipes?

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