Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Food: Comfort Food Made Healthy

It feels like it has been raining for days upon end here in NYC, and I have found myself asking the question: "If April showers bring May flowers, then what do all of these May showers bring?"

My simple answer: a craving for comfort food. After all, something has to cure us from our Soggy Springtime Blues.

We all know that most comfort food is filled with all sorts of warm, gooey goodness and, unfortunately, loads of fat and calories. Fortunately, the good folks over at EatingWell.com have a wonderful selection of classic comfort food recipes that have been trimmed down and made more healthy.

My selection for the day will be the following New England Clam Chowder recipe. What are some of your favorite comfort foods? Do you think that by making comfort food recipes healthy, it can no longer be considered comfort food?

New England Clam Chowder
Makes 6 servings, generous 1 cup each

2 teaspoons canola oil

4 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1 medium red potato, diced

1 8-ounce bottle clam juice (see Makeover Tip)

1 bay leaf

3 cups low-fat milk

½ cup heavy cream

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon salt

12 ounces fresh clam strips (see Shopping Tip), chopped, or 3 6-ounce cans chopped baby clams, rinsed

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer half of the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add onion, celery and thyme to the pan; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add potato, clam juice and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Whisk milk, cream, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the pan and return to a simmer, stirring, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add clams and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

3. To serve, discard bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with some of the reserved bacon and scallions.

New England Clam Chowder Tips
Makeover tip: Check sodium carefully when using clam juice because the amount of sodium can vary dramatically between brands. We use Bar Harbor clam juice with only 120 mg sodium per 2-ounce serving.

Shopping tip: Look for fresh clam strips at the seafood counter.

New England Clam Chowder Nutrition Information
Per serving: 253 calories; 13 g fat (6 g sat, 4 g mono); 59 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 16 g protein; 1 g fiber; 585 mg sodium; 392 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Iron (50% daily value), Vitamin C (23% dv), Calcium (21% dv), Vitamin A (17% dv).1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 low-fat milk, 1 lean meat, 2 fat

Recipe & Photo courtesy EatingWell.com. All Rights Reserved.

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