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Active Cookbook: Skinny Comfort-Food Recipes for Winter
Skinny Hot Chocolate
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The quintessential cold-weather drink to sip by the fire, hot chocolate is universally adored. Skip the powdered mix loaded with chemicals or the super-rich, whole-milk version at your local cafe, and make your own "skinny" version. Here's how: Warm 1 cup low-fat milk, unsweetened almond milk or plain soy milk in a pot over medium-low heat. Gently whisk in 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons sugar (or your favorite sugar substitute), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or switch it up with peppermint, orange or almond extracts) and 1 tablespoon all-natural semi-sweet chocolate chips (Sunspire semi-sweet baking chips are a great brand to try). When chocolate chips are melted, remove pot from heat, and pour into mug. This skinny hot chocolate has just over 140 calories per cup.
Slimmed-Down Shepard's Pie
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A classic Irish comfort-food dish, Shepard's Pie is a stick-to-your-ribs recipe made with rich, gamey ground lamb and topped with pounds of buttery mashed potatoes (often made with egg yolks to get that pleasing golden hue). While it's a wintertime favorite for many, one serving of the traditional recipe can contains nearly 500 calories—mind you, that doesn't include the two pints of beer you wash it down with. Lighten up this St. Patrick's Day fave with lean ground turkey and a topping of cauliflower and potatoes made tangy and flavorful with low-fat Greek yogurt and sour cream.
321-Calorie Minty Milkshake
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The Shamrock Shake appears on the menu at McDonald's for a limited time around St. Patrick's Day every year, and the creamy, minty Emerald green shake has a cult following—even those who don't frequent the establishment flock to the golden arches just to get their milkshake fix. But the McCafe Shamrock Shake contains 530 calories, 11 grams of fat—10 grams of that is saturated—60 milligrams of cholesterol and 73 grams of sugar. That's a lot of unnecessary extra calories, artery-clogging fat and refined sugar for a snack, dessert or, even worse, an accompaniment to a McDonald's burger and fries.
You can make your own minty-licious shake at home and, as long as you use the right ingredients, this cool beverage can be a healthier treat that you can make year-round.
Healthier Chicken Pot Pie
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If you take the time to make your own pies from scratch, swap the butter or shortening in grandma's pie crust recipe for more heart-healthy oil, such as canola. Control the sodium in the sauce for your chicken pot pie by making your own chicken broth. Use lower-fat and lower-calorie ingredients, such as fat-free half and half, to mimic the texture and mouthfeel of the heavy cream found in most traditional chicken pot pie recipes. Learn more secrets to making a tasty, savory and—most importantly—healthier pot pie.
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Here's a can't-fail recipe from The South Beach Diet. Mix together half a cup of old-fashioned oatmeal, 1/4 cup of low-fat cottage cheese, two eggs, and a dash each of vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. Process in a blender until smooth. Cook the mixture like a regular pancake.
Carbs eliminated: 45 g per pancake
The taste: "With syrup, you could never tell the difference."
Lower-Fat Apple Pie
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Most health-conscious people shy away from indulging in pie because they know that the crust alone can pack loads of calories and fat—mostly the saturated and trans-fatty kinds from animal products like lard and butter. So don't use butter. Traditional bakers, grandma possibly included, might scoff at this advice because they believe that only butter or shortening will make a crust tender and flaky. Substitute a plant-based fat for the conventional animal fat apple pie recipes call for, and you'll end up with a lighter crust that you can feel better about eating several days in a row—that is, if you have any leftovers.
Skinny "Green" Mac and Cheese
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Mac and cheese: It's a dish childhood dinner memories are made of. Although your days of ingesting orange mystery dust are likely in the rear view, chances are you still cherish a bowl of mac and cheese. The good news: There's a healthier version that calls for quinoa pasta, which is high in protein and an adequate source of all the essential amino acids, and raw-milk cheddar.
Healthy, Heart-Warming Chili
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Who doesn't love a bowl of hot chili on a cold, blustery day? To keep things light and less expensive, omit the meat and use beans to pack a protein punch. Unlike meaty, slow-cooking chili recipes, this vegetarian varietal comes together in just 30 minutes. As long as you don't adorn your chili with calorie-heavy toppings such as full-fat cheddar cheese and sour cream, enjoying your chili with a small handful of tortilla chips on the side won't hurt.