The Cookbook Collector: Comfort Food Fix + Swedish Meatballs

January 27, 2012

Chicken Alfredo, fried chicken, shepherd's pie, mac n' cheese, broccoli and cheddar soup all sound like dishes that are off-limits when dieting but not when Ellie Krieger makes them.  In her new book, Comfort Food Fix, Kreiger transforms indulging comfort foods into nutritionally-rich meals that can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

The book is based on Kreiger's "15 fix factors, " cooking principles that cut calories and reduce fat to create healthy but delicious dishes.  Some of these strategies include:

Un-Fry: Using the oven instead of the fryer to give your food that sought after crispy crust.

Boost Veggies and Beans: Add more vegetable and beans to dishes and cut back on animal proteins and refined starches.

Bake Better: Substitute oil in baking recipes with fruit and vegetable purees, yogurt, or almond butter.

You will find recipes that cover breakfast, brunch, and baked goods; snacks and starters; soups and sandwiches; meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian main dishes; sides and salads, and last but not least desserts.  You will learn how to make her banana pecan bread (300 calories), broiled buffalo wings (240 calories), honey-crisp oven-fried chicken (330 calories), grilled turkey Reuben sandwiches (280 calories), dark chocolate brownies (150 calories) and more.  Each recipe is accompanied with a side-by-side nutritional comparison of the typical recipe and Krieger's version.  In every case, she has reduced calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium content.

In Krieger's point of view, "you don't have to choose between your favorite foods and your well-being." She has provided the best of both worlds by "fixing" your favorite comfort foods so that they can be incorporated into your diet in a healthy way.  Kreiger believes that with a few substitutions and some know-how you can have the comfort food experience without the "unhealthy downsides."

Swedish Meatballs

These heavenly meatballs are melt-in-your-mouth tender, soft, and light. The nutmeg gives them a gentle sweetness that mingles beautifully with a sour cream-enhanced beef broth. By using whole-wheat bread, lean beef, and broiling instead of frying, I give them an extra halo.

Nonstick cooking spray
1 slice whole-wheat bread
3 tablespoons low-fat (1%) milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the bread in a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and sprinkle evenly with the milk.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the moistened bread crumbs, onion, beef, egg, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, allspice, and black pepper to incorporate.

Form the mixture into 1/2-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Broil about 5 inches from the flame, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until the mixture is light brown and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef broth and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the meatballs and cook over medium-low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes more. Serve garnished with parsley.

Makes 8 servings

Serving size 5 meatballs and 3 tablespoons sauce

Per Serving Calories 220; Total Fat 14 g (Sat Fat 4 g, Mono Fat 7 g, Poly Fat 2 g); Protein 15 g; Carb 6 g; Fiber 1 g; Cholesterol 70 mg; Sodium 310 mg

Excellent source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin K, Zinc

Good source of Iron, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Selenium, Vitamin B6

Before: 460 cal., Sat. Fat 16g, Chol. 180mg, Fiber 1g, Sodium 950mg

After: 220 cal., Sat. Fat 4g, Chol. 70mg, Fiber 1g, Sodium 310mg