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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. 9: Popcorn

Most people can't go to the movies without buying popcorn. For many, it's the standard snack at the end of a long day at work or school. One common equation for popcorn is that a tablespoon of oil plus 1/2 cup corn kernels pops up to about 4 cups. And that doesn't even include the butter that is usually drizzled on top.

Makeover Tips: Use less oil when popping the corn, and add less butter after it's popped. Basically, this is what popcorn manufacturers are doing with their light microwave popcorn options.

American Food Makeover No. 10: Potato Chips

These crunchy snack time favorites were reportedly invented in 1853 by a chef at the Moon's Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A guest insisted on extra-thin French fries, so Chef George Crumb sliced the potatoes paper-thin, and they crisped up quite nicely when fried.

Makeover Tips: You need some oil when making potato chips (without it they would simply taste like plain dried potatoes), but the trick is using less of it. Accomplish this by baking thinly sliced potatoes with a light coat of canola cooking spray or a light brush of canola oil instead of deep-frying them.

American Food Makeover No. 11: Potato Salad

The American rendition of creamy potato salad -- a standard at delis, picnics, and barbeques -- is dressed in mayonnaise. The German style potato salad uses a warm vinaigrette traditionally made with bacon fat.

Makeover Tips: Instead of using regular mayonnaise, make a light mayo dressing by using half light mayonnaise and half fat-free sour cream. Punch up the flavor in the dressing with honey mustard or relish, freshly ground black pepper, or herbs and spices.

American Food Makeover No. 12: Root Beer Float

These are on the menu at ice cream shops and old-fashioned soda fountains in many American towns. The original root beer was a low-alcohol fizzy drink created by a druggist in Philadelphia, according to The Food Encyclopedia. Modern-day root beer, of course is a soda pop with flavors reminiscent of this earlier beverage.

Makeover Tips: Make a low-calorie root beer float by using diet root beer and by lightening the "float." There are some great-tasting light vanilla ice cream and frozen yogurt options at most supermarkets.

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