The Lighter Side of Comfort Food

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Comfort food is notoriously indulgent. Butter, cheese and potatoes make appearances in nearly every dish. Even though it's not the healthiest cuisine in the world, we turn our heads away from the calorie count in the name of comfort and deliciousness. But even these down-home dishes can be lightened up by replacing fat-laden ingredients and opting for the oven instead of the fryer. By being more conscious about ingredients, you can enjoy these classics with a little less guilt.

If you often find yourself craving a big bowl of cheesy goodness, this recipe is going to be your new best friend. Instead of heavy cream, this version uses skim milk and low-fat sour cream, and includes part-skim mozzarella and low-fat Swiss. And for a little indulgence in the flavor department, it calls for a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

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MAC_CHEESE_007.tif

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Fried chicken is undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes, and for good reason. It's crunchy and salty on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside — a near perfect combo. But it's deep-fried, and just like everything else that is deliciously doused in oil, it's best saved for a special occasion. The good news is, there's a great way to compromise: Bake it! This take on the comfort food offers up tons of flavor with a Parmesan breading, so you can have your chicken and eat it, too.

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He_Made_00019.tif

Food Stylist: Karen Evans Prop Stylist: Elizabeth Maclennan

Photo by: Charles Masters

Charles Masters

Collard greens are one of those specialties that you almost always have to be in the South to enjoy properly. And while they are greens, lots of the ingredients traditionally added into the dish raise the calorie and fat content quite a bit. So save the pork, and try out this vegetarian version instead. With only a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter, it's much more guilt-free than the original while still maintaining a classic flavor.

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FN_Sunny Anderson Vegetarian Southern Style Collard Greens.tif

FN_Sunny Anderson Vegetarian Southern Style Collard Greens.tif

©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Irresistible cornbread texture with fresh onion flavor — what's not to love about hush puppies? It's easy to pop three or nine of these during dinner, so any way we can lighten them up is definitely welcome. This recipe changes things up a bit and make them into something like a hush puppy-corn muffin hybrid. The good thing is, you don't have to compromise on flavor. These puppies taste just like the originals.

All Star Sides Spr2

All Star Sides Spr2

Muffin Shaped Bread in an Orange Dish

This Sunday brunch staple can be weighed down by lots of butter, but it can also be a decently balanced meal. We like this version because it doesn't skimp on the shrimp and it still contains a bit of butter. The lemon brightens up the dish and keeps the shrimp tender without the use of extra fat.

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LEMON_SHRIMP_GRITS_24.tif

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

We can't even think about comfort food without craving scalloped potatoes. Soft, cheesy potatoes baked in a creamy sauce — no one can resist. But it can definitely get a bit heavy. This version uses a mixture of low-fat milk and whole milk in place of heavy cream. It also calls for Gruyère cheese to enhance the flavor and give the dish the creaminess it's known for.

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