Each year, the chefs and cooks at America's Test Kitchen take the recipes they've tested that year and select some that they can make the dishes lighter or healthier. This year's edition contains more than 200 recipes that have had calories and/or fat cut while leaving the flavors intact. Since this is America's Test Kitchen, you can be assured that they didn't stop working on a recipe until they thought it was perfect.
For example, Greek lasagna. The original recipe has 610 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving, but the revised version cuts it to 370 calories and 12 grams of fat. The saturated fat and cholesterol is also reduced by almost two thirds. How? Among other things, they replaced beef with turkey, completely reworked the bÉchamel white sauce and reduced the amount of cheese. In classic Test Kitchen fashion, this is known because the majority of the book is spent telling you the process for each recipe in great detail. Be on the lookout for "Makeover Spotlight" boxes with some recipes. These seem to be the ones the Test Kitchen is most proud of lightening up.
A dessert they highlight is Icebox Key Lime Pie. They are brave souls indeed who try to tamper with a dessert beloved by so many. The results of this makeover: 25 percent fewer calories and less than half of the fat of the original. Neufchatel cream cheese and Greek yogurt are the two heroes that reduce the necessary sugar to 1 tablespoon for the entire pie.
The best part about the detailed descriptions is that the authors impart the reader with an understanding that can be applied to similar recipes. They also show that even experienced chefs have a difficult time knowing how to make a dish a little healthier. Hopefully this gives readers the courage to make mistakes and keep refining their own recipes until they get them right.
The one thing I found missing in the book was a concise summary of how long each recipe would take to make. Cooking times are listed, but without the prep time, it makes it a little bit harder to plan a meal quickly since you have to manually calculate and decide if it will be feasible to make the dish on a weeknight, or if it is better saved for a Sunday dinner.
For those looking to make delicious, healthy meals, "Light and Healthy 2012" will be a welcome addition to your culinary library.
H Hatfield is a programmer for Deseret Digital Media, has attended culinary school and sings in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.