by Toby Amidor in Cookbooks, October 16, 2016
by Amy Chaplin in Amy's Whole Food Cooking, November 25, 2014
Think Southern food can’t be lightened up? Think again! I had the opportunity to speak with Chef Virginia Willis about her James Beard Award-winning cookbook Lighten Up, Y’all. She was kind enough to share her tips for lightening up traditional Southern foods like biscuits, as well as her recipe for Vegetable Corn Bread.
Can traditional Southern foods be lightened up and still taste good?
Virginia Willis: Yes and yes! First, and foremost, I want to say that all traditional Southern foods aren’t unhealthy. We’re a vegetable-based cuisine and have a 12-month growing season. And, yes, I admit we’re most famous for fried chicken, cornbread and overcooked vegetables. My answer to that is: When you have fried chicken, have really good fried chicken, hold out for the good stuff — and take a walk afterwards. There are tons of great vegetable recipes, and whole-grain cornbread isn’t unhealthy. I suggest backing off on the fat and amping up the nutrition.
What are three of your top tips for lightening up Southern fare?
VW: 1) I have a squirt bottle of canola oil at the side of my cooktop. I know that three squirts are 1 teaspoon, and that helps me be accountable. Bacon fat, butter or canola oil, all oil is around 120 calories a tablespoon. I try to use heart-healthy oil for general cooking and only use more-indulgent oils when their flavor really makes a difference.
2) It doesn’t matter if it’s Southern food or Italian food or Mexican food — the real key is portion control.
3) Eat your vegetables! Make vegetables the main place on the plate, and the starch and protein the secondary piece. Read more
by Robin Miller in Uncategorized, May 20, 2013
Sometimes, warm freshly baked bread for breakfast is all you want — ideally made from dough that doesn’t involve activating yeast or kneading. You want bread that’s mildly sweet, but not cakey like muffins or a banana bread, and goes perfectly with a cup of tea. This gluten- and dairy-free skillet cornbread fits the bill and also happens to be perfect for lazy mornings — especially if you have leftover cooked squash to stir into the batter. This bread can be enjoyed with a pat of coconut oil if you want to keep it free of any dairy, otherwise a little butter melted in is pretty good. The scallions added to the batter may make you consider serving this with dinner, and they can certainly be left out if you want to serve it with jam. Either way, be sure to enjoy it warm.
by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, Thanksgiving, November 23, 2009
I grew up eating meals from a cast iron skillet. I’m pretty sure my mom got her skillet from her mom, and so on and so on. The reason those meals were so memorable was because the more you use cast iron, the more flavor it retains and thus infuses into food. It can be a cheesy egg frittata, Grandma’s scalloped potatoes or an aunt’s Sheppard’s pie — the older the pan, the better the flavor. Cornbread is a great example. Traditional cornbread just doesn’t taste or look the same when you bake it in a baking dish (yes, I’ve done it, and probably even on this blog).
With a cast iron pan, you can preheat and “grease” the pan first, which gives the finished bread that incredible crisp-around-the-edges-moist-in-the-middle texture. But those recipes use heaps of butter which, as I discovered during recipe testing, isn’t needed. To replace traditional fat (sometimes more than a stick of butter), I used low-fat buttermilk and 2% Greek yogurt. I still greased the pan with some melted butter for the same incredible flavor and color. Whether your cast iron pan is old or new, try this recipe and let me know what you think!
Every year I have this internal debate: Do I make cornbread or rolls for Thanksgiving dinner? This year, I’m going with cornbread, but either of these recipes will make a scrumptious addition to your holiday table. Stick to smaller portions (mini-muffins, anyone?) to save room for the rest of the meal and keep calories in check.