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Recipe Makeovers for All-American Food

Cook up lighter versions of American cuisine classics.
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American Food Makeover No. 3: Cornbread

This is an All-American quick bread that's made in all different styles (Southern, skillet, sweet) with all sorts of possible accoutrements (green pepper, cheese, bacon, onion, etc.). There have been all sorts of names for cornbread, and it has many variations that are part of American culinary history, such as johnnycakes, hushpuppies, and spoon bread.

Makeover Tips: Lighten cornbread recipes by using less fat in the batter (substitute a less-fat margarine with plant sterols for bacon grease, lard, or shortening) and replacing that fat with low-fat buttermilk or fat-free sour cream. For some recipes, you can make a fat substitute blend using canola oil and fat-free sour cream. Use fewer eggs (substitute two egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute). If your recipe calls for "stir-in" ingredients like bacon or cheese, you can use a reduced-fat option and add less of it. Up the fiber in your cornbread by substituting whole-wheat flour for half of the white flour called for.

American Food Makeover No. 4: Corn Dogs

This favorite carnival and state fair treat, in which a hot dog on a stick is dunked into thick cornbread batter and deep-fried, was created in 1942 by Texan Neil Fletcher for the State Fair, according to The New Food Lover's Companion.

Makeover Tips: Use leaner dogs (there are several "light" brands available), and bake your corn dog until the cornbread batter is firm instead of deep-frying it. If deep-frying is a must, at least use a cooking fat that's higher in monounsaturated fat, preferably one that also contributes plant omega-3s too (like canola oil).

American Food Makeover No. 5: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Most of us grew up on Mom's grilled cheese sandwiches. They're also standard fare at diners across the country.

Makeover Tips: Make a healthier grilled cheese sandwich by using whole-wheat or multigrain bread (multigrain sourdough is yummy), reduced-fat cheese or a little less of the regular cheese. Instead of spreading them with butter, spray the outer sides of the bread quickly with canola oil before placing on your nonstick griddle or skillet.

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