After a month or more of blissful overindulgence, most of us feel ready to say goodbye to the rich foods, sugary sweets, and high-calorie cocktails of the holiday season.  While it’s tempting to swear-off junk food forever with an extreme New Year’s diet resolution, going from feast to famine isn’t the best strategy for the long term.

Instead of depriving ourselves of our favorite foods, we can make over our meals by cleverly cutting down on calories and fat without cutting down on flavor.  Read on to discover seven slimmed-down recipes that make it deliciously doable to stick to our healthy resolutions.

If you love to start your day with a bakery treat, try this:
Fig Bran Muffin
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs, plus 3 whole dried figs
  • 1 1/2 cups bran cereal (recommended: All-Bran)
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F, and coat a 12-muffin pan with cooking spray. Thinly slice the whole figs.  In a large bowl, combine the cereal and milk. Let sit about five minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses, and egg to the cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the chopped figs. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and top each muffin with a fig slice.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from muffin pan and cool completely on a rack.

If you crave creamy chowder on a cold, winter day, try this:
Lower-Cal Corn and Vegetable Soup
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, thawed
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, (about 1/2 pound) diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Blend two cups of the corn and the milk into a blender or food processor, until smooth, then set aside.  Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender. Add the remaining two cups of corn and the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pureed corn and tomatoes and cook until warmed through, but not boiling. Add the salt and season with pepper to taste.

If you’re in the mood for mouth-watering meatloaf, try this:
Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze
Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste with coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (90 percent lean)
  • 1 cup panko (coarse Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the zucchini, bell peppers, garlic paste, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about five minutes, until the vegetables are almost soft, then set aside to cool.  Whisk the egg and fresh herbs in a large bowl. Add the turkey, panko, grated cheese, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and the cooled vegetables and mix until just combined.  Gently press the mixture into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a small bowl; brush the mixture over the entire loaf. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, then let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

If you’re dying for a decadent chocolate dessert, try this:
Lower-fat Chewy Chocolate Brownies
Recipe courtesy of EatingWell.com
Ingredients:

  • 16 whole chocolate graham crackers (8 ounces) (see Ingredient notes)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 F. Coat an 8 by 11 ½ inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Place graham crackers in a large plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. You should have about two cups of crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl; add cocoa and salt and mix well.  Combine eggs, egg white, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed for about two minutes, until thickened. Blend in coffee granules and vanilla. Gently fold in dates, chocolate chips, and the reserved crumb mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.  Bake the brownies until the top springs back when lightly touched, 25 to 30 minutes, and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting.

If you want to sink your teeth into a juicy burger, try this:
My Big Fat Better-for-you Greek Burger
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
Ingredients:

  • For the yogurt sauce:
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek style yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • For the burgers:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 whole-wheat burger buns
  • 1/4 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 small leaves romaine lettuce, hard ribs removed

Directions:
In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt, and pinch of black pepper.  Heat two teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about three minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the spinach and cook for about one minute, until it’s wilted. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the feta cheese, dill and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine.  Divide the turkey into eight equal sized rounds, and form eight patties.  Put two tablespoons of the spinach-feta mixture onto half of the patties. Top with remaining patties working the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed. Season the burgers on both sides with the salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Grill the patties for about five minutes per side, until cooked through.  Place a burger on the bottom half of each bun, top with about two tablespoons of yogurt sauce, then two or three cucumber slices and a lettuce leaf. Top with the other half of the bun and serve.

If you can’t pass up finger-licking fried chicken, try this:
Heart-Healthier Oven-Fried Chicken
Recipe courtesy of EatingWell.com
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 1/2-3 pounds whole chicken legs, skin removed, trimmed and cut into thighs and drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions:
Whisk buttermilk, mustard, garlic, and hot sauce in a shallow glass dish until well blended. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours.  Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.  Whisk flour, sesame seeds, paprika, thyme, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Place the flour mixture in a paper bag or large, sealable plastic bag. Shaking off excess marinade, place one or two pieces of chicken at a time in the bag and shake to coat. Shake off excess flour and place the chicken on the prepared rack. (Discard any leftover flour mixture and marinade.) Spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray.  Bake the chicken for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and no longer pink in the center.

If you’ve been dreaming about a hearty Italian dish, try this:
Slimmed-Down Spaghetti & Meatballs
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, liquid included
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle en adobo and sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Ingredients for the Meatballs:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1 slice fresh whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, pulsed into crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box (16 ounces) whole-wheat spaghetti

Directions:
Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil for pasta.  To prepare the sauce, heat the oil over medium heat in a 4-quart saucepan. Saute the onions for about three minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for one additional minute. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, chipotles, oregano, rosemary, and salt. Bring all of the ingredients to a low boil, reduce the heat, and cook for approximately 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. While the sauce is cooking, prepare the meatballs.  Preheat the broiler and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine the turkey with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Form into 2 1/2 -inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Broil for ten minutes, or until browned and almost entirely cooked through.  Meanwhile, remove rosemary sprig from sauce and add fresh basil. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and cook an additional ten minutes, or until sauce has slightly thickened and meatballs have absorbed some of the sauce. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the whole-wheat spaghetti according to package directions.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and meatballs, toss, and heat through over medium heat.

 

What’s your favorite slimmed-down recipe?  Feel free to share it by adding a comment below.