Classic American dishes get a lighter makeover in The Lighten Up Cookbook by Cutthroat Kitchen star Addie Gundry, from nutrient-rich smoothies to easy family dinners to guilt-free desserts.
Eating lighter doesn’t have to include charts or calorie counting. By incorporating easy healthy recipes into your diet, like substituting cauliflower for starchy breads or baking chicken instead of frying it, you can revitalize your eating habits without giving up the foods you love. From light breakfast recipes like the Kale Smoothie to potluck favorites like Mayo-Free Chicken Salad to family dinners like Zucchini Lasagna and even sweet treats like Pineapple Fluff, eating healthier can be simple and tasty! Each recipe is paired with a gorgeous full-color finished-dish photo.
About the Author
Addie Gundry received her masters in culinary arts at Auguste Escoffier in Avignon, France. She has worked for Christian Etienne, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Martha Stewart on management, restaurant openings, brand development, editorial, marketing, and sales. In 2015, she won Cutthroat Kitchen on The Food Network. As the executive producer for RecipeLion, Addie creates culinary content for multiple web platforms and communities. She excels at making easy recipes elegant.
Read an Excerpt
Breakfast and Smoothies
When I start my day off by eating something healthy, I feel motivated to keep eating lighter recipes all day long. I'm not going to have a delicious Nutrient-Rich Kale Smoothie (here) and then follow that up with a lunch of a burger and fries. It just doesn't make sense! From Banana Nut Bread (here) to Breakfast Stuffed Peppers (here) and everything in between, there are plenty of ways to make sure you start your day off right.
Banana Nut Bread
Yield: Serves 12 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
Applesauce is such an easy alternative to use when you're looking to lighten up a recipe. It's often used to replace oil in baking. It's just as yummy but cuts back on fat and calories (with no added sugar)! And as a bonus, the almond flour makes this recipe gluten-free!
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray again.
2. Mash the bananas and place into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
3. Add the eggs, applesauce, and vegetable oil to the bananas. Stir to blend. Add enough water to fill the measuring cup of wet ingredients to 2 cups.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
6. Stir in the pecans and vanilla.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes until golden.
8. Place the bread, in the pan, on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.
9. Run a knife or flat metal spatula around the pan. Carefully turn the bread out of the pan onto the rack to cool further. Slice and serve.
Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole
Yield: Serves 10-12 | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 50-55 minutes
Turkey is a leaner meat than beef, so if you're ever looking to make your favorite beef recipe a little lighter, try it with turkey! It'll fill you up just the same without sacrificing taste.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, add the sausage and sauté until fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Break up into pieces and continue to cook until browned.
3. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
4. Add the bell pepper and onion to the same skillet and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.
5. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the spinach, mix, and turn off the heat.
6. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini with the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce.
7. Stir in the cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan cheese.
8. Mix in the cooked sausage. Mix in the cooked vegetables, then the eggs.
9. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until set and the cheese has melted. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
You can make this casserole the day before and refrigerate it to bake later. Remove the casserole from the fridge 30 minutes before baking to warm.
Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche with Brown Rice Crust
Yield: Serves 6 | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 50 minutes
This brown rice crust is a healthier departure from the typical buttery flaky pastry. The crust recipe could even be repurposed when making pumpkin pie or savory tarts for a fun new twist.
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Combine the rice, ¼ cup of the cheddar cheese, the Parmesan cheese, and 1 egg.
3. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan to ¼-inch thickness.
4. Bake for 7 minutes until the crust begins to brown.
5. In a large bowl, beat the remaining 4 eggs with the herbes de Provence, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
6. After the crust has baked, lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
7. Layer the broccoli, mushrooms, remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, and scallions onto the crust.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until set and the top is golden.
You'll need about 2/3 cup uncooked brown rice to yield 2 cups cooked.
Southern Johnny Cakes
Yield: Serves 4-6 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Johnny cakes are an American classic both in the Northeast and in the South. The addition of whole wheat flour helps add fiber, so if you want to indulge in a bit of maple syrup to top them off, go ahead!
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
2. Whisk in the eggs, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.
3. Coat a griddle or skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
4. Drop about ¼ cup of the batter per cake onto the griddle and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown.
5. Serve with Greek yogurt and fresh berries.
Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bark
Yield: Serves 6-8 | Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 2 hours chill time | Cook Time: N/A
When I'm running late to work in the morning, I often just grab the nearest muffin or waffle and head out the door. Breakfast bark allows me to keep nibbling away at something as I try to find my purse and shoes, while still feeling good knowing that it's full of good-for-you ingredients like fruit and nuts!
1. Line a 9 × 13-inch baking pan (or 8 × 8-inch baking pan if you want a thicker bark) with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.
2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, maple syrup, and honey.
3. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and spread it to about ¼ inch to ½ inch thick.
4. Sprinkle the granola, blueberries, strawberries (sliced and chopped), and pistachios over the yogurt mixture.
5. Cover the baking pan with foil and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
6. Break or cut into pieces. Put on a platter and serve.
Use different granola flavor combinations, fruits, and nuts. You can also add coconut and dark chocolate chips.
Oatmeal Coffee Cake
Yield: Serves 4-6 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Coffee cake always marked a special occasion growing up. If we were expecting overnight guests, my dad would pick up a coffee cake from the local bakery to serve in the morning alongside some freshly brewed coffee. It was such a fun treat, and with this lightened-up version, I don't have to wait for a special occasion to indulge!
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8 × 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of the coconut oil, the eggs, 1 cup of the brown sugar, the oatmeal, and the vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the baking soda.
4. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and stir until combined.
5. Gently fold in the blueberries.
6. Pour into the baking dish.
7. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil, ¼ cup brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon with the walnuts. Evenly sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cake.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake is set.
9. Let the cake cool before cutting. Serve.
Breakfast Stuffed Peppers
Yield: Serves 6 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yes, stuffed peppers are typically made for dinner. But you find bell peppers in omelets and breakfast skillets, so why can't you change the format of the ingredients to make a breakfast version of stuffed peppers? Plus, you get even more veggies than you normally would with each serving.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Slice the peppers in half through the top of the stem. Remove the seeds and interior membrane. Rinse and dry the peppers. Place cut-side up in the baking dish.
3. In a medium skillet, cook the sausage for about 3 minutes, until fully cooked. Remove to a large bowl.
4. Wipe out the skillet, add the olive oil, and warm over medium-high heat.
5. Add the red potatoes, sweet potatoes, and shallots. Then add the garlic, Italian seasoning, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the potato mixture from the heat and add to the bowl with the sausage. Mix in the maple syrup.
7. Fill each pepper three-quarters full with the sausage and potato mixture.
8. Add some of the whisked egg to the top of each of the peppers.
9. Bake for 35 minutes or until the eggs have set.
10. Sprinkle each pepper with the Colby Jack cheese. Serve.
If the peppers will not sit up straight in the baking dish, place some crumpled foil between them to prop them up.
Cranberry Orange Scones
Yield: 8 scones | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 18-21 minutes
Scones are my go-to lazy Sunday morning breakfast food. I love to just sit out on the back deck, book in hand, as I get ready to take on the rest of the day. The use of whole wheat flour and low-fat buttermilk helps make this a lighter version than your typical scone. Feel free to substitute your favorite type of berry for the cranberries!
1. For the scones: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, orange zest, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture forms fine clumps.
4. Gently stir in the buttermilk, maple syrup, orange juice, and vanilla. Fold in the cranberries.
5. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet and shape the dough in a circle about ¾ inch thick. Brush the top with the milk. Slice the dough into 8 wedges.
6. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes until the scones are golden and are cooked through.
7. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.
8. For the glaze: Mix the confectioners' sugar and orange juice until it reaches a smooth consistency. Drizzle over the cooled scones.
Use fresh cranberries instead of dried.
Nutrient-Rich Kale Smoothie
Yield: Serves 2 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: N/A
Kale is one of those superfoods you always hear so much about. The trick is figuring out how to incorporate it into your meals. I love this smoothie recipe since you can barely even taste the kale with all the yummy fruits inside.
1. Place the kale, banana, blueberries, pineapple chunks, filtered water, pomegranate juice, and lime juice in a blender.
2. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.
Cinnamon Roll Smoothie
Yield: Serves 2 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: N/A
When I'm looking to eat healthier, I'll sometimes catch myself daydreaming about all the foods I shouldn't eat: fast-food fries, triple-layer chocolate cake, cheesy lasagna. Cinnamon rolls often enter my thoughts, too, which is why I can't resist this smoothie recipe. I get to satisfy my cravings without all of those extra calories.
1. Place the banana, yogurt, oats, pecans, almond milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in the blender.
2. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.
Four-Berry Kiwi Smoothie
Yield: Serves 1 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: N/A
I like to call this my "feeling blue" smoothie. If I'm ever feeling a little down and need to regain that pep in my step, I think of the cheeriest, most concentrated form of energy. I gather all of my favorite fruits in one place, blend them up, and enjoy! Between the kiwi and the lime juice and the mixed berries, there's plenty to smile about.
1. Place the frozen berries in a blender and let thaw for 10 minutes.
2. Add the kiwi, orange juice, honey (if using), and lime juice.
3. Blend on high until smooth.
4. Pour into a glass and garnish with additional kiwi and berries.CHAPTER 2
Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches
After I resolve to start eating healthier, usually after the holidays or as I'm getting ready to enjoy my favorite summer activities, my first step is to ease into bringing homemade lunches to work every day. Once I start bringing along homemade Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup (here) or Apple Brie Salad (here), I'm able to set my mind to eating healthier in other areas of my life, too.
Low-Calorie Cabbage Soup
Yield: Serves 6 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cabbage doesn't get the attention it deserves. Not only is it filling enough to use in place of a protein, but it's also a wonderful source of nutrition. It's chock-full of vitamins K, C, and B6, among others. This recipe contains a slew of other veggies, too, so you can enjoy a new flavor in each bite!
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened.
2. Add the carrots, zucchini, and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant and softened.
3. Add the cabbage, tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, basil, dill, oregano, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf.
4. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley. Add salt and black pepper if needed. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
6. Garnish with additional fresh dill. Ladle into bowls and serve.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Lighten Up Cookbook"
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Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Table of Contents
1 Breakfast and Smoothies
Banana Nut Bread 4
Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole 7
Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche with Brown Rice Crust 8
Southern Johnny Cakes 11
Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bark 12
Oatmeal Coffee Cake 15
Breakfast Stuffed Peppers 16
Cranberry Orange Scones 19
Nutrient-Rich Kale Smoothie 20
Cinnamon Roll Smoothie 23
Four-Berry Kiwi Smoothie 24
2 Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches
Low-Calorie Cabbage Soup 29
Chicken Cannellini Soup 30
Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup 33
Lightened-Up Hamburger Soup 34
Tomato-Basil Soup 37
Mayo-Free Chicken Salad 38
Chicken and Avocado Caesar Salad 41
Baking Dish Layered Salad 42
Apple Brie Salad 45
Grandma's Favorite Egg Salad Sandwich 46
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwich 49
Chickpea, Avocado, and Pesto Sandwich 50
Chicken Caprese Sandwich 53
Skinny Poolside Dip 57
Zucchini Chips 58
Parmesan Cauliflower Bites 61
Southern Deviled Eggs 62
Easy Cucumber Cups 65
Baked Buffalo Chicken Rolls 66
Skinny Bell Pepper Nacho Boats 69
Cucumber Avocado Rolls 70
Turkey Cranberry Meatballs 73
Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip 74
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bites 77
Grilled Shrimp 78
4 Meat and Poultry
Chicken Noodle Casserole with Corn and Zucchini 83
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken 84
20-Minute Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan 87
Crunchy Chicken Casserole 88
Easy Baked Lemon Chicken 91
Chicken Parmesan Quinoa Bake 92
One-Pan Roasted Chicken and Veggies 95
Midnight Breakfast Sausage with Veggies 96
Spiced Grilled Chicken 99
Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps 100
Greek Turkey Burgers 103
Cheesy Turkey Shepherd's Pie 104
Dump 'n' Go Italian Meatloaf 107
Healthy Beef and Broccoli 108
Zucchini Lasagna 111
Spicy Slow Cooker Beef with Bell Pepper 112
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash 115
Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Pork Chops 116
Garlic Roasted Pork Chops 119
Healthy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork 120
Low-Carb Jalapeño Popper Pork Chops 123
5 Seafood, Pasta, and. Vegetarian
Healthy Crab Mac 'n' Cheese 127
Low Country Boil 128
Cilantro Lime Black Bean Shrimp and Rice 131
Low-Carb Teriyaki Salmon 132
20-Minute Lemon, Garlic, and Herb Baked Cod 135
Skinny Tuna Noodle Casserole 136
One-Skillet Seafood Alfredo 139
Baked Tilapia 140
Spaghetti and Meatballs Casserole 143
Vegetarian Asparagus and Cauliflower Alfredo 144
Ravioli with Asparagus and Walnuts 147
Skinny Lasagna Rolls 148
Creamy Avocado Spinach Pasta 151
Veggie Quinoa Sushi Rolls 152
Baked Zucchini Parmesan Casserole 155
Zucchini and Herbed Ricotta Flatbread 156
Low-Carb Cauliflower Pizza 159
Portobello Fajitas 160
Noodle Salad with Sesame Garlic Dressing 165
Back-to-Basics Broccoli Salad 166
Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Cauliflower 169
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus 170
Baked Parsnip Erics 173
Zucchini Tots 174
Healthier Green Bean Casserole 177
Spaghetti Squash Casserole 178
Lighter Corn Casserole 181
Butternut Squash Home Fries 182
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts 185
Garlic Mushroom Quinoa with Brussels Sprouts 186
Pac-Man Potatoes 189
24-Hour Fruit Salad 193
Blueberry Frozen Yogurt 194
Tropical Breeze Dessert 197
Avocado Chocolate Pudding 198
Slow Cooker Peach Cobbler 201
Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies 202
Strawberry Oatmeal Bars 205
Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies 206
Peanut Butter Banana Cookies 209
Lightened-Up Pumpkin Pie in a Mug 210
Greek Yogurt Cake 213
Chocolate Lovers Zucchini Cake 214
Clean-Eating Carrot Cake 217
Banana Cheesecakes 218
Greek Yogurt Fruit Tart 221
About the Author 228