The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 20, 2012

Lighten Up

Karen Freeman

TARBORO — I am always trying to watch what I eat and get more healthy. However! I don't want to give up great tasting food to do it. You don't really have to give up anything. You just have to re-invent it a bit. Reduce the fat and calories and you can have your favorites in moderation.

The first is banana pudding.  This makeover recipe takes the calorie count from 819 to 295 and from 49 grams of fat all the way down to 6. But, you don't lose the taste. This recipe is cooked, so it does not use instant pudding.

The second dish is Carrot Cake, my personal favorite. This one takes the calies from 1,460 calories per slice to 284 calories. It also takes the fat count from 99 down to 9! Plus, you don't lose any flavor!

Our third recipe is chicken salad. It has all of the flavor of the original but only a few of the calories. This one goes from 784 down to 339. This recipe is great served in a lettuce cup.

Our last recipe is my favorite pasta! It's Fettuccini Alfredo and it's terrific. It even uses "real" pasta instead of the whole wheat flavorless kind.

I hope that you will try some of these recipes. I also hope that you will let me know how you like them and even share some of your own!

Roasted Banana Pudding

5 ripe unpeeled medium bananas (about 2 pounds)

2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk

2/3 cup sugar, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed and divided

45 vanilla wafers, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place bananas on a jelly-roll pan covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove 3 bananas; cool completely. Peel and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Bake the remaining 2 bananas at 350 for an additional 20 minutes. Carefully peel and place the 2 bananas in a small bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth.

Combine milk and 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer (do not boil).

Combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Gradually add hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add mashed bananas, butter, and vanilla, stirring until butter melts. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Fold half of whipped topping into pudding.

Spread 1 cup custard evenly over the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Top with 20 vanilla wafers and half of the banana slices. Spoon half of remaining custard over banana. Repeat procedure with 20 wafers, banana slices, and custard. Spread remaining half of whipped topping evenly over top. Crush remaining 5 wafers; sprinkle over top. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.

Carrot Cake


10 1/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups grated carrot

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

Cooking spray


6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 ounce fromage blanc (or use Greek yogurt)

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add 2 cups grated carrot, tossing to combine.

Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spread batter into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place softened cream cheese and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon salt) in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at medium speed until combined (don't overbeat). Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans.

Light Chicken Salad

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

7 tablespoons (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped smoked almonds

6 cups mixed salad greens

Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.

Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.

Combine mayonnaise and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, 1/3 cup celery, cranberries, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.

Fettuccini Alfredo

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. Serve immediately.