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Instead of making meat lasagna, feature vegetables only or a combination of lean meat and vegetables. Switch to a whole-grain lasagna noodle and reduced-fat shredded cheese and low-fat or part-skim ricotta cheese.

Mac & Cheese

As one of the top comfort foods in America, dietitians often have their own twist on lightening macaroni and cheese. Ansel suggests making it with reduced-fat shredded cheddar and low-fat milk. Julie Upton, MS, RD, co-founder of, makes a Mediterranean version by using feta cheese and olive oil instead of cheddar cheese and butter. “It becomes less of an oooey gooey cheese bake and more of a lighter pasta dish,” says Upton. No matter which light version you make, switch to a whole-grain elbow pasta for more fiber and nutrients.

Mashed Potatoes

Using nonfat milk or fat-free half-and-half in mashed potatoes and swapping light sour cream for butter will do the trick, notes Ansel. You can pump up the flavor by adding roasted garlic or fresh chopped herbs, chives, or green onions.


You can mix up a meatloaf lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber by making a few ingredient switches. Start with a ground sirloin or turkey with around 6% fat instead of ground beef or pork with 20% to 30% fat. Instead of bread crumbs, mix in some whole wheat bread or oats processed in a food processor. Use egg white or omega-3 fortified eggs to bind the mixture. If the recipe calls for sautéing vegetables, add olive oil to the frying pan in place of butter.


Choose between whole wheat pita bread, whole-grain flour tortillas, or 100% whole wheat Boboli for the pizza crust. Spread with pizza sauce and a moderate amount of reduced-fat cheese or part-skim mozzarella, and top with chopped vegetables (green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, green onions, sliced mushrooms, artichoke hearts, etc.) instead of high-fat meat.

Pot Pie

Many are motivated to make chicken or beef pot pie at home since frozen pot pies are notoriously loaded with saturated fat and calories. To lighten the typical pot pie recipe, only use a top crust and switch to a whole wheat crust (if possible). Make sure the meat you are using is lean (chicken breast or beef sirloin, for example) and decrease the amount of meat added. The filling will still be nice and chunky if you add more vegetables. Substitute whole milk or fat-free half-and-half for the cream to make the filling.

Tacos, Enchiladas, and Burritos

When making some of the popular Mexican-inspired dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, maximize the use of beans (black beans, pinto beans, or vegetarian refried beans), fresh vegetables and herbs, avocado, steamed or grilled fish, and “soft” whole-grain tortillas. Minimize the use of “crispy” tortillas, deep frying in general, high-fat meats and chorizo, excessive cheese, and sour cream.

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