Why is it that the most comforting, delicious foods are all
so, well, cheesy? Melty, ooey, gooey cheese adds considerable calories to your
favorite dishes, but what if you could still enjoy your favorite cheesy foods
without completely sabotaging your healthy eating plan? Here are healthier
versions of some cheesy favorites to help you stay on track.
Nachos sound like the ultimate diet-buster. Fried tortilla
chips smothered in melted cheese, piled high with steak and topped off with
gobs of sour cream. What if you could make some adjustments and create a
Replace fried tortilla chips with bakes ones. Then, start
piling on the veggies. Bell peppers, jalapenos, onions and garlic will all add
great flavor and crunch to your nachos, and help turn this into a healthier
recipe. Replace refried beans with black beans for some extra fiber and to cut
some calories and fat. Swap out ground beef for ground turkey, or strips of steak
for strips of chicken.
Good news: To make your nachos healthier, you don’t have to
skip the cheese altogether. Replace a cup of cheddar cheese (455 calories) with
1 ounce of cotija cheese (100 calories) sprinkled on top. You’ll get a more
authentic, south-of-the-border flavor, and will be able to enjoy this dish
without ruining your diet. Want more ideas for healthy nachos? Check
out these 30 healthy nacho recipes you’ve got to try!
Another southwest favorite, burritos are typically
high-calorie. A warm and comforting dish that can be enjoyed at breakfast,
lunch, or dinner, a burrito can easily become a more healthful meal.
Whole-wheat tortillas make a health-conscious wrap for
vegetables and beans. Black beans, cilantro, salsa and yogurt can make a
burrito, even without cheese and sour cream.
Instead of refried beans in your burrito, try making a
black-bean spread. Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans, and then combine in a
food processor with 1 teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder and ½
teaspoon sea salt.
This recipe for chile
chicken tortillas skips the cheese altogether, allowing for the addition of
a creamy avocado-sour cream. One serving is 368 calories, compared to a cheesy
chicken burrito with over 1,000 calories from a restaurant.
Pizza without cheese just sounds wrong, but you can
completely revamp the “pie” to be a healthier, and just as tasty, version of
Start with a basic
pizza crust. Spread on pesto
sauce, hummus, or olive oil. Top with vegetables and herbs, like
caramelized onions, butternut squash and arugula; spinach, tomato, kalamata
olives and oregano; mushrooms, zucchini and rosemary; or fresh tomatoes and
Instead of covering the entire pizza with 1 cup of shredded
mozzarella cheese (336 calories), garnish it with 1 ounce of crumbled goat
cheese (103 calories). The goat cheese has a stronger, more tart flavor, so a
tiny bit will satisfy your cheese craving.
What’s a backyard barbeque with out a burger? You don’t have
to shy away from this American classic, just replace the typical cheeseburger
for a more healthful option, instead. A Tofu
Chickpea Burger can help you eat a more plant-based diet, and this one is
so flavorful you may convince even the biggest meat lover to try something new.
If a veggie burger isn’t your thing, a Curried
Turkey Burger with Cucumber Yogurt has so many big, bright flavors that the
last thing you’ll think about is cheese. The smaller, slider-size burgers means
you can enjoy three and still total around 380 calories.
Last on the list is the King of Cheesy Meals; the Lasagna.
Layers of pasta, cheese and sauce make a traditional lasagna a one-way ticket
to a ruined diet. But you can have your cheese and eat it too, if you make some
careful edits to turn lasagna into a healthier dish.
Instead of sheets of refined white pasta, use whole grain
wheat or spelt lasagna pasta sheets. Spelt is an ancient grain that’s part of
the wheat family; it has a nutty taste and is full of beneficial fiber,
vitamins and minerals. Layer your pasta sheets with fresh tomato sauce,
spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, squash and arugula. Repeat until you have a
baking dish full of pasta, sauce, and vegetables. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella
cheese on top to get the melty, bubbly appearance and cheesy flavor that you
crave from lasagna. By only adding the cheese to the very top, and not in
between every layer, you’re cutting a minimum of 600 calories out of the dish. Here
are 10 more ways to make your lasagna even healthier!