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The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook: A New, Healthier Way to Cook Everything from America's Most Trusted Test Kitchen
America's Test Kitchen's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Tips
Low-Fat Dairy Is Much Better than Non-Fat Dairy
In taste tests and baking tests we're consistently had good results with low-fat or reduced-fat sour cream, mayonnaise, yogurt, and milk. Cakes, cookies, sauces, dressings taste the same. But forget about non-fat dairy. Many of these products are filled with gums and stabilizers and we found they produced subpar results in most recipes.
Choose High-Flavor, Moderate-Fat Cheeses
No cheese is low fat. But Parmesan, Asiago, goat, and feta have less fat than other cheeses and their potent flavors mean that a little cheese goes a long way.
Replace Some White Flour with Whole Wheat Flour
The test kitchen has found that you can replace 1/3 to 1/2 of the white flour in most any muffin, bread, or cake recipe with whole-wheat flour, boosting fiber, protein, and nutrient content.
Give Whole Wheat Pasta a Try
Whole wheat pastas have been reengineered to taste great. They no longer are marred by gritty texture and have a delicious nutty flavor.
Trade-In Fatty Cuts of Meat for Leaner Cuts
Top sirloin, flank, and blade steaks all have less than 10 grams of fat per 6-ounce serving. Pork loin and pork tenderloin are very lean, too. Choose cuts with minimal marbling (the streaks of white fat that run through fatty cuts like a rib-eye) and make sure to trim all external fat before cooking.
Santa Fe Meatloaf
Make sure to mash the black beans thoroughly, or the meatloaf will not hold together well. You can substitute 3/4 cup frozen corn for the fresh corn.
2 large eggs
6 Tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chili powder
salt and pepper
2 slices high-quality whole-wheat sandwich bread, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
2 pounds 95 percent lean ground beef
4 scallions, minced
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
For the meatloaf: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Following the photos, fold a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil into a 10 by 6 inch rectangle, place in the center of a wire rack, and place the rack on a baking sheet. Use a skewer to poke holes in the foil every 1/2 inch. Spray the foil with vegetable oil spray.
Whisk the eggs, broth, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add the bread and mash together with a rubber spatula until the mixture is uniform.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly mash the black beans with a potato masher until no beans are left whole. Add the mashed beans, ground beef, scallions, corn, bell pepper, cheddar, and 2 Tablespoons of the cilantro to the broth-bread mixture and combine with your hands until uniform.
Press the mixture together into a compact mass, then turn it out onto the prepared foil on the wire rack. Press the meat to the edges of the foil into a tidy 11/2 inch-thick loaf.
For the glaze: Whisk all the glaze ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Brush half of the glaze over the meatloaf. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes. Brush with the remaining glaze and continue to bake until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the meatloaf cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tablespoons cilantro over the top before serving.
Per 11/4-inch-thick slice: Cal 310; Fat 10g; Sat Fat 4.5g; Chol 130mg; Carb 20g; Protein 34g; Fiber 3g; Sodium 730mg
Do not substitute quick-cooking or instant oats in this recipe or the topping will have a sandy rather than crunchy texture. Look for pears that are ripe but firm, which means the flesh at the base of the stem should give slightly when gently pressed with a finger. Serve with lowfat frozen yogurt.
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 pounds Bartlett or Bosc pears (6 to 7), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup almonds, chopped coarse
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (see note above)
2 Tablespoons honey
For the filling: Adjust the oven racks to the lower-middle and upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a bowl, then stir in the pears. Transfer the filling to an 8 inch square baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and set on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
For the topping: Pulse the almonds, flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor until the nuts are finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Drizzle the melted butter over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbly wet sand, about 5 pulses. Add the oats and honey and pulse until evenly incorporated, about 3 pulses.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the topping out over the prepared baking sheet and pinch it between your fingers into small pea-sized pieces (with some smaller loose bits). Place the baking sheet with the topping on the upper-middle oven rack and the baking dish with the filling on the lower-middle oven rack. Bake until the topping is lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes, and the pears are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. (Set the topping aside to cool slightly while the pears finish baking.) Remove the filling from the oven. Uncover, stir the filling gently, and sprinkle evenly with the partially baked topping. Continue to bake the crisp on the lower-middle oven rack until the topping is well browned and the filling is bubbling around the edges, 5 to 10 minutes. Let the crisp cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: Cal 320; Fat 12g; Sat Fat 5g; Chol 20mg; Carb 53g; Protein 4g; Fiber 7g; Sodium 80mg
We like to use a combination of both sweet and tart apples, like Granny Smiths and McIntosh, in this filling.
Substitute 3 pounds apples (6 to 9), peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks, for the pears and increase the amount of cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon.
Per Serving: Cal 310; Fat 12g; Sat Fat 5g; Chol 20mg; Carb 51g; Protein 4g; Fiber 6g; Sodium 80mg
To Make Ahead
The fruit filling (through step 1) and processed topping (through step 2) can both be covered and held, separately, at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Continue to pinch the topping together on a baking sheet as directed in step 3 when you are ready to bake the crisp.
Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mousse
We prefer the smooth, rich flavor of semisweet bar chocolate here, but semisweet chips may be substituted.
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
6 Tablespoons plus 1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (21/3 ounces) sugar
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Combine the semisweet chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa, 6 tablespoons of the water, and vanilla in a medium bowl set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Bring the sugar and remaining 1/3 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened and syrupy (about 235 degrees on a candy thermometer), 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and cover to keep warm. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the whites to soft peaks, 2 to 5 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and following the photo, slowly add the hot syrup, avoiding the whisk and the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and continue to whip until the meringue has cooled slightly (just warm) and is very thick and shiny, 2 to 5 minutes. Gently whisk one-third of the meringue into the chocolate mixture until combined, then whisk in the remaining meringue. Divide the mousse evenly between six 4‑ounce ramekins or pudding cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 12 hours, before serving.
Per Serving: Cal 230; Fat 9g; Sat Fat 5g; Chol 5mg; Carb 34g; Protein 5g; Fiber 3g; Sodium 40mg
To Make Ahead
The chocolate mousse can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.
Meat and Cheese Lasagna
You can substitute 12 no-boil noodles for the whole-wheat noodles if desired (no-boil noodles are larger in size). If using no-boil noodles, skip the pasta boiling instructions in step 4 and use 3 noodles per each layer of lasagna. Do not use ground chicken breast here (also labeled 99% fat-free) or the meat will taste dry and grainy.
2 cups nonfat ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken (see note above)
1 (28‑ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28‑ounce) can diced tomatoes
16 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (see note above)
vegetable oil spray
Mix the ricotta, 2 cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the basil, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl until well combined; cover and refrigerate until needed. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and set aside until needed. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the lasagna noodles and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until almost al dente but still firm to the bite. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water until cool. Lay the pasta out over clean kitchen towels. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 13 by 9‑inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Place 4 noodles on top of the sauce and spread 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture evenly down the center of each noodle. Spoon 11/2 cups more of the sauce evenly over the ricotta. Repeat this layering two more times. For the final layer, place the remaining 4 noodles on top, spread the remaining 2 cups sauce over the noodles, and sprinkle with the remaining cup mozzarella. Spray a large sheet of aluminum foil lightly with vegetable oil spray and cover the lasagna. Place the lasagna on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the sauce is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.
Per Serving (41/2 by 21/2‑inch piece): Cal 390; Fat 14g; Sat Fat 6g;
Chol 80mg; Carb 40g; Protein 30g; Fiber 6g; Sodium 870mg
To Make Ahead
The assembled lasagna can be covered with foil and refrigerated for up to 3 hours before baking; bake as directed. We do not recommend making this lasagna in advance if using no-boil noodles.
Quinoa Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro
To make this dish spicier, add the chile seeds. After 12 minutes of cooking, there will still be a little bit of water in the pan, but this will evaporate as the quinoa cools.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and dried on a towel
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1/2 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced (see note above)
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Toast the quinoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water and is nearly tender, about 12 minutes. Spread the quinoa out over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside until it is tender and cool, about 20 minutes.
When the quinoa is cool, transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in the bell pepper, jalapeño, onion, and cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk the lime juice, oil, mustard, garlic, and cumin together, then pour over the quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Per 3/4‑Cup Serving: Cal 200; Fat 6g; Sat Fat 1g; Chol 0mg; Carb 30g; Protein 6g; Fiber 3g; Sodium 220mg
To Make Ahead
The quinoa salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days; season with additional salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste before serving.