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Healthy Makeovers

New Year’s Day is tricky. Last night, we all made resolutions about eating healthier and working out. Today, we wake up and want to keep the holiday going and enjoy ourselves just a little bit longer. Perhaps that is why my husband JUST iced his sugar cookies from our pre-Christmas baking spree. Yes, three-week old cookies. For once, this was a sweet temptation I could easily resist (sorry dear).

I want to stay on track to my healthy-eating commitment, but I also really want onion rings right now. Badly. The solution? Oven-baked onion rings with whole wheat bread crumbs.  This recipe also works well for baked zucchini fries, which are a big hit in our house. You can easily makeover a favorite recipe by swapping some healthier ingredients. Below are a few of my favorites.

Healthy “New Year’s” Onion Rings

  • 1 lb. sweet onions
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 3 egg whites
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika, garlic powder or thyme (depending on your preference)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut edges off onion, and remove outer layer. Cut onion into 1/2 inch wide slices, and separate into rings.  Beat egg whites in a small bowl and pour bread crumbs onto a small dish. Flavor bread crumbs with salt, pepper and additional seasonings per your preference. Coat each ring in egg and then crumbs (give each ring a shake after the egg bath).  Place on an oven-safe baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.  Cook for 20-25 minutes and be sure to flip rings after 10 minutes.

This makes about four servings around 170 calories per serving.

Healthy Fettucine Alfredo (from Cooking Light Magazine)

  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3  cups  1% low-fat milk
  • 1 1/4  cups  (5 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  cups  hot cooked fettuccine (8 ounces uncooked pasta)
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Cracked black pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook 6 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream cheese, and salt, stirring with a whisk until cheeses melt. Toss sauce with hot pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley. Garnish with black pepper, if desired. Serves 4. This rounds out to about 400 calories, 14 grams of fat and 21 grams of protein per serving.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole (from Cooking Light Magazine)

  • 3 (10 oz.) packages frozen broccoli florets, thawed or equivalent of fresh broccoli
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free milk
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (4 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1  cup  fat-free or vegan mayonnaise
  • 3/4  cup  chopped onion (about 1/2 medium)
  • 1  (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained, and sliced
  • 3/4  cup  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2  teaspoons  butter, melted
  • cooking spray

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange broccoli in an even layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; set aside.

Combine milk, flour, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cheddar and cream cheeses; stir until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise, onion, and water chestnuts. Spoon cheese mixture evenly over broccoli.

Place panko in a small bowl. Drizzle with butter, and toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over cheese mixture. Lightly spray breadcrumb layer with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble and breadcrumbs brown. Serves 4. Each serving has 141 calories, 5 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein.

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