Chowders, Lightened Up

by in Meal Makeovers, November 2, 2010
Low Fat Clam Chowder
Low-Fat Clam Chowder - Image Courtesy Food Network Magazine

As deliciously comforting as a warm bowl of chowder can be, all the fat and calories can wreak havoc on your waistline. But with a few simple swaps, you can slurp this savory soup with delight.

Nutrition Facts
A bowl of classic creamy New England Clam Chowder can pile in more than 600 calories and 40 grams of fat from cream and butter. Chowders are also commonly flavored with lots of fatty bacon, sending the fat and calorie counts even higher.

Smarter Soup
Soup is a terrific way to get more veggies, so load up your chowder with aromatics like celery, carrots, onions and leeks. To help thicken the soup, sprinkle the veggies with flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding liquid. Starchy add-ins like potatoes, corn and beans will add texture, while their natural starches will also help thicken the soup.

If your favorite recipe calls for butter, swap half of it for canola or olive oil – you’ll still get the buttery flavor and a boost of the more heart-healthy kinds of fats. Shrink down the portion of bacon or make the switch to turkey bacon and you’ll shave off more calories from saturated fats.

Broth-based chowders have considerably less calories than ones made with cream. But if your moto is like mine “go creamy or go home” using half-and-half  instead of heavy cream will save 500 calories and 60 grams of fat per cup. Since lighter dairy products (like milk and half and half) don’t stand up to high heat as well as cream, it’s best to add them towards the end of cooking to prevent them from separating and making the soup grainy.

Recipes to Try:
Low Fat Clam Chowder
Rhode Island Style Clam Chowder
Corn, Crawfish and Andouille Chowder
Crab-Corn Chowder

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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