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Home > Press & Buzz > 2014-12-29 : New Year's Makeovers for Diet-Busting Comfort Foods: Tips from eMeals

New Year's Makeovers for Diet-Busting Comfort Foods: Tips from eMeals

Trimming Fat & Calories from Foods You Love Will Help You Keep New Year's Health Resolutions

BIRMINGHAM, AL (December 29, 2014) - Let's face it: Most diets started on January 1 won't last until Valentine's Day, and one reason is an inability to kick the comfort food habit. Typical "diet food" can't compete with fattening favorites like macaroni and cheese, pizza and lasagna that have been on our dinner tables since we were old enough to walk. And that creates cravings that can derail even the best-intentioned New Year's resolutions.

The solution? Trick your taste buds with recipe makeovers that trim the fat and calories without losing any of the feel-good flavor and texture of the originals. You'll get all the indulgent satisfaction without falling off the diet wagon (your waistline and overall health will thank you).

Start with remakes like Macaroni-and-Veggie Bake, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pizza, and Stovetop Veggie Lasagna from online meal planning service eMeals (you'll find them posted at Each has just 320 to 450 calories per serving, thanks to clever kitchen hacks like using the starch from the pasta's cooking liquid to help thicken the mac-and-cheese sauce without the need for added cream.

Use these handy cooking tips from registered dietitian Jessica Cox, the eMeals in-house culinary nutritionist, to lighten your own favorites.

1 - Skip the cream and "cream of"

Beware of any white sauce made with heavy cream or canned cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup: It's a calorie, fat and sodium bomb. You can whip up a slimmer and trimmer basic white sauce by melting 3 Tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk and 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Simmer, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg, if desired.

2 - Bake, don't fry

Oven-frying with different breadings like panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped nuts or flaked unsweetened coconut gives you the crispy crunchy texture of fried comfort foods without the added fat. Case in point: Panko-Crusted Chicken Fingers. Dip chicken tenders in beaten egg, and then dredge in panko breadcrumbs. Place in a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, and enjoy—guilt free.

3 - Mash a better veggie

Use mashed cauliflower, parsnips or turnips in place of carb-heavy potatoes to cut calories while simultaneously amping up the fiber and nutrients. Roast the vegetables instead of boiling them to deepen the flavor, reducing the amount of butter needed to perk up the taste when mashing.

4 - Halve the meat

Making meatloaf? Replace half the meat with cooked lentils and add shredded carrot and zucchini. Meat sauce? Trade half the ground beef for finely chopped mushrooms. Burgers? Use half ground beef and half canned beans. Your meal will be just as flavorful and comforting, only with less fat and more nutrients.

5 – Cook it slow

A slow cooker transforms lean cuts of meat from tough to fork-tender. This easy, time-saving method helps control calorie and fat counts by using cuts like chuck roast and London broil in place of fattier varieties like skirt and strip steak. Bonus: You don't need to add oil or butter to a slow cooker as you do when making a stovetop stew. Check out for a 270-calorie rendition of Crock-Pot Beef & Carrots Au Jus.


eMeals is America's leading digital meal planning solution and an emerging player in the meal kit market. Each week eMeals provides easy-to-follow recipes and a one-click shopping list that optionally connects to online grocery pickup and delivery partners. With a database of tens of thousands of recipes assembled over the last decade, subscribers have a choice of 15 food style plans tailored to different dietary goals and eating preferences. Life is hard; make dinner easy. Visit to sign up for a two-week free trial.

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