Lighten Up! Skinny One-Dish Wonders

Featured Article, Food, Recipes
on January 12, 2017
light comfort food
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Start the year off light with these slimmed-down classic comfort foods. These recipes are sure to become family favorites—no one will ever know they’re healthy!


Smoky Tomato Soup

According to The Wimpy Vegetarian’s Susan Pridmore, “This satisfying soup gets its creaminess from white beans (which add protein and fiber). And I can’t imagine tomato soup without gooey grilled cheese on the side. I make it lighter by piling a thin pita with crisp, sweet apple slices and a cheese like cheddar that packs a flavor punch without having to use a lot.”

Lighten Up! Skinny One-Dish Wonders Your Family Will Love |

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn


The kick comes from canned chipotles, which you can find in the international foods aisle.

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 Tbsp chopped garlic cloves

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp chipotles in adobo sauce

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 ( 14 1/2-oz) can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

2 (28-oz) cans crushed tomatoes


1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, chipotles and salt. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until mixture is very fragrant.

2. Add remaining olive oil and fold in beans. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom. Pour in tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes.

3. Ladle soup into a blender or food processor and process until completely smooth. Add extra broth to thin, and taste and season as needed. Serves 4


Grilled Cheese & Apple Pitas

Slice 4 pita rounds in half crosswise and carefully open their pockets using your fingers. Spread 1 tsp mustard inside each pocket. Add 3 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese, 4 apple slices, and 3 more Tbsp cheese to each. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet or grill pan. Add pita halves and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Flip, adding additional butter if needed, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Serves 4


Hearty Vegetable Lasagna

“Simply subbing whole-wheat lasagna noodles for the regular ones ups the fiber in this cold-weather dinner that pushes all the comfort food buttons,” says Anjali Shah of The Picky Eater. “Adding vegetables and lots of spices means more flavor and texture, so you can trim fat by using less cheese.”

Lighten Up! Skinny One-Dish Wonders Your Family Will Love |

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn


3 tsp olive oil, divided

6 cloves garlic, minced, divided

1 1/4 cups diced red onion, divided

5 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

2 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red), thinly sliced and cut into thirds

1 (5-oz) bag baby spinach, chopped

1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, divided


1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs (like Contadina)

1 (24-oz) jar spaghetti sauce

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (like Sargento), divided

1 (16-oz) box whole-wheat lasagna noodles, cooked

Chopped parsley


1. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add half the garlic, onion, zucchini and bell peppers and cook until beginning to soften. Add spinach, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning and pepper. Stir and cook 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

2. Combine crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and remaining garlic and Italian seasoning in a saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

3. Combine ricotta cheese and 3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese in a bowl.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a large casserole dish with olive oil spray. Spread about 1 1/2 cups sauce across the bottom of pan. Put a third of the lasagna noodles in a single layer in the pan. Top with 1 1/2 cups sauce and half the vegetables. Crumble a third of cheese mixture over top. Add another layer of noodles, sauce and vegetables, then top with noodles, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes longer until the cheese has melted. Top with chopped parsley. Serves 8


Turkey Chili with Squash

“Made with extra-lean ground turkey and canned beans, this chili is fast, low-fat and sticks to your ribs,” says reader Nancy Krcek Allen of Maple City, Mich. “You can use mild, medium or hot salsa verde (usually made with tomatillos and jalapeno chilies).”

Lighten Up! Skinny One-Dish Wonders Your Family Will Love |

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn


4 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups diced onion

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cumin

1 lb extra-lean ground turkey

1 (15-oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups salsa verde (like Goya)

4 cups frozen cubed winter squash (18 oz)


3 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Fresh sliced jalapenos (optional)


1. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium. Stir in onion, salt and cumin. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add turkey. Cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until only a bit of pink remains. Stir in beans, salsa and 1 cup water. Partially cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Add squash and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Add hot water to thin chili if desired. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with toasted pumpkin seeds and jalapeno slices, if using. Serves 6 to 8