Slash the calories of classic comfort food dishes with some easy substitutions that are still full of flavor.
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In Jenna Wolfe’s “30 Days to a Better You” challenge, making important food choices plays an important role. Dishes like pasta and mashed potatoes often pack a hearty punch, but with a few clever substitutions those favorite dishes can be made into healthier options.
“It’s gonna taste amazing,” promised Sur La Table’s resident chef Joel Gamoran, who invited the TODAY team into his kitchen with the promise of simple, healthy dishes.
Gamoran first showed Wolfe, Lester Holt and Erica Hill how to make a pappardelle pasta out of celery root, which is healthy and packed with vitamins. It’s also carb-free.
The chef used a lean cut of meat to go with the dish, and very little olive oil. Compared to a normal bowl of pappardelle pasta with a beef ragu, which comes in at about 850 to 875 calories, this dish had only 300.
In a classic mashed potatoes dish, Gomaran used cauliflower as the main ingredient. He also said there would be a competition on who could make the most delicious version.
Holt and Hill teamed up against Wolfe and one of Gomaran's kitchen assistants.
The teams were given three minutes to combine garlic, nonfat cream cheese, nutmeg and parmesan cheese with the cauliflower.
The winner with the tastiest combination? “I can’t believe I’m saying it, but it’s Jenna!” said Gomaran. It was surprising only because it takes a lot to get Wolfe in the kitchen. “It’s not that I don’t have the desire, it’s that I don’t have the skill,” she said.
Making a mashed potatoes dish with cauliflower and nonfat cream cheese puts the dish at about 210 calories per cup. A more traditional recipe runs about 315 calories a cup.
The kitchen crew also whipped up a fried rice dish made with quinoa instead of rice, and without the egg yolks, adding in only the egg whites. That way, the fried rice ends up being healthy with low cholesterol, and choosing quinoa over rice means there’s more protein and vitamins.
The anchors sat down to feast on their dishes, but not without first toasting to their missing co-host Dylan Dreyer, who couldn’t attend because she had gone to report on a winter storm.
“Here’s to low calorie, high taste...and to Dylan," said Wolfe.