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Grilled Cheese

Use 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread and reduced-fat cheese. Give the outer sides of the bread a quick spray of canola oil, or brush lightly with olive oil before placing on your nonstick griddle or skillet. You can even turn it into a panini using an indoor grill.


Instead of regular ground beef, make a leaner burger by using ground sirloin or turkey that’s 96% fat free or more. Portion 1/4 pound of ground meat per burger, and top the cooked burgers with fresh tomatoes, onions, and lettuce and light condiments such as mustard, salsa, barbecue sauce, or ketchup.


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.

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