Chicken Pot Pie, Lightened Up

In these early days of spring, there is still time for a hearty dinner on some chilly nights.

Sure, spring is here, but if you're in the northeast like us, warmer days are still to come. Take advantage of these last few chilly nights with this hearty, one-pot classic.

Weighing In

Did you know an average restaurant portion of chicken pot pie has over 900 calories, 60 grams of fat and more than a days worth of sodium? Yeah, that's A LOT. Many often have 10-plus grams of trans fat, too -- thanks to pastries made with partially hydrogenated shortenings. Those frozen pot pies aren’t much better with 700 calories and 40 grams of fat (and 2 grams of trans fat) per serving.

Rethinking the Fillings

Let's tackle the goodies inside first. Pot pie wouldn't be much without that thick, chunky filling. The creamy consistency usually comes from chicken broth that has been thickened with a roux (a combination of flour and a fat such oil or butter). Use less fat and make up for it with more add-ins -- mushrooms, carrots, pearl onions and chunks of chicken breast. Go for whatever vegetables are in season or save on prep time by using frozen. Opting for low-sodium broth will help cut the salt. Some recipes also get more creaminess from whole milk, cream or sour cream. Just replace these with low-fat versions.

Lightened-Up Crust

Most of the fat and calories in pot pie comes from that crust. And don't worry, we wouldn't ask you to give up it -- just make some changes. Crusts made with shortening, lard or puff pastry are overloaded with artery-clogging saturated and trans fats. This Food Network recipe uses flaky phyllo instead. Phyllo is paper-thin pastry dough made from flour, water and a small amount of oil -- it’s much lighter than the traditional crust but will give you that same flakiness (look for it in your freezer section).

You can also make your own lighter crust from a biscuit mix or better yet, a homemade biscuit recipe. Though not quite pot pie, you might also top your filling with low-cal mashed potatoes -- shepherd's pie style.

    Recipes to try:
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