Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A Light Dish That Tastes Good : Flavor Is Important When Reducing Recipes

March 07, 1985|BETSY BALSLEY | Times Food Editor

Adjusting an ordinary recipe to a lighter style of dining is easy, but not necessarily as easy as it might appear on the surface, unless one is willing to compromise drastically on flavor. To show how it works, I took a macaroni and cheese casserole that, dressed up with broccoli and tomatoes, makes a nice meatless main dish. By eliminating almost all of the fats and reducing the sodium content appreciably I came up with a low-calorie, low-fat product that did wonders for my diet because it had no flavor so I didn't eat it.

Some of the substitutions, such as replacing the eminently meltable cheese food with a low-fat cheese, simply didn't work satisfactorily. The low-fat cheese that tasted the most like the cheese food called for in the original recipe took on all the characteristics of sheet metal when used this way. So, since a quick comparison of the calories showed that there really was little overall difference between the two products anyway, the cheese food was kept.

The few substitutions finally settled on reduced the per-serving calorie content by 113, cut the fat content almost in half, cut the cholesterol by better than half and reduced the sodium content slightly. But the flavor and vitamin and mineral content remained almost intact. The end result was a good-tasting casserole that can easily be worked into a sensible, well-balanced menu plan for anyone interested simply in cutting down.

It should be noted that the total fat content in the reduced calorie recipe still adds up to about one-third the daily amount recommended in current dietary standards. The sodium content also adds up to between one-fourth and one-third of the daily recommended allowance. So it would be prudent to select other foods consumed the day you serve this casserole from the food groups that are low in both fats and sodium.

Why choose a casserole that is loaded with calories and uses processed foods, which usually have a higher fat and sodium content, for such an experiment in the first place? Very simple. Anyone can steam a chicken breast with some vegetables or broil a fish fillet, both obviously good choices for a health-conscious cook. But there are times when a good, old-fashioned convenience casserole of this type simply hits the spot. Learning how to adjust recipes of all types makes it possible to create varied menus that keep the joy in mealtimes.

VEGETABLE MACARONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

1 1/2 cups shredded process cheese food

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup milk

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of onion soup

4 tablespoons butter

3 cups diced broccoli

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 pound elbow macaroni, cooked in unsalted water and drained

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine cheese food, mayonnaise, milk and cream of onion soup and mix well. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and saute broccoli about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes and cheese mixture. Add macaroni. Turn into 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and stir in bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 45 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned and casserole is heated through. Makes 8 servings.

PER SERVING: 481 calories; 15 gm protein; 41 gm carbohydrate; 29 gm fat; 58 mg cholesterol; 827 mg sodium.

USRDA

Protein 24% Riboflavin 27% Vitamin A 50% Niacin 13% Vitamin C 105% Calcium 32% Thiamine 18% Iron 13% VEGETABLE MACARONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE REDUCED

1 1/2 cups shredded process cheese food

1/2 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise

1 cup nonfat milk

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of onion soup

3 cups diced broccoli

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 pound elbow macaroni, cooked in unsalted water and drained

2 tablespoons diet margarine

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine cheese food, mayonnaise, milk and cream of onion soup and mix well. Cook broccoli in skillet in about 1/4 cup boiling water about 5 minutes. Pour off any remaining liquid. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes and cheese mixture. Add macaroni. Turn into 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Melt margarine and stir in bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 45 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned and casserole is heated through. Makes 8 servings.

PER SERVING: 368 calories; 15 gm protein; 41 gm carbohydrate; 16 gm fat; 29 mg cholesterol; 795 mg sodium.

USRDA

Protein 24% Riboflavin 27% Vitamin A 46% Niacin 13% Vitamin C 105% Calcium 31% Thiamine 18% Iron 12%

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|