Lighten Up Cozy Comfort Foods with Blogger Tina Haupert!

Remake Dishes like Mac & Cheese, a BLT Sandwich and Brownies with Simple Substitutions and Ingredients

Do not let the winter blues get you down! If you are trying to stay on track with your New Year’s resolutions while still enjoying your favorite comfort foods, Carrots ‘N’ Cake healthy eating blogger Tina Haupert has created a collection of recipes to lighten up dishes like mac & cheese and chocolaty brownies. The recipes represent a day’s worth of meals, from breakfast to dessert and two quick and easy snacks to help avoid calorie traps in heavy winter dishes.    

Haupert has partnered with California Almonds to create this delicious collection of dishes and simple, everyday tips to remake favorite recipes. With substitutions like almond flour for breadcrumb toppings and swapping a banana for some of the fat in baked goods, even the most indulgent dish can be remade without sacrificing taste. To delight your palate, enjoy Tina’s recipes and tips below:



For Any Meal

Unsweetened almond milk is a great low-calorie choice in just about any recipe, like in my Gluten-Free Almond Brownies. A cup of unsweetened almond milk has only around 40 calories. You can use it in everything from smoothies, as I did with my Pick-Me-Up Smoothie, to cheese sauces without noticing much difference in taste or texture.

Non-fat Greek yogurt is my go-to ingredient for skinny-ing up comfort food recipes, like my Lightened-Up Mac & Cheese. You can swap it for heavy cream, full-fat milk, sour cream and cream cheese just to name a few!

Gluten-Free Almond BrowniesPick-Me-Up SmoothieLightened-Up Mac & Cheese


For Lunch & Dinner

Try topping casseroles and other baked dishes with almond meal instead of traditional breadcrumbs. Almond meal adds a wonderful nutty flavor to your recipe, and it's gluten-free.

Instead of topping your salad with croutons or bacon bits, try sliced almonds for some added protein and fiber (6 g and 4 g per ounce, respectively).

Toasted Almond Butter Marmalade Sandwich with Turkey BaconInstead of using mayo in your tuna, chicken, or pasta salad, try Greek yogurt or mashed avocado. Both of these give your salad a creamy texture, but for fewer calories while adding nutrients. Can’t bear to give up your beloved mayonnaise? Substitute just half the amount with Greek yogurt or mashed avocado—I promise, you won’t even miss it! With my Toasted Almond Butter & Marmalade Sandwich with Turkey Bacon, I created a twist on a PB&J and BLT combination using better-for-you turkey bacon.

Skinny up casseroles by replacing some of the higher-calorie ingredients with double (or even triple) the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for. That way, you’ll reduce the number of calories and fat while getting a lot of nutrition. For example, replace fatty cuts of meat with mushrooms, or pasta with spaghetti squash.

For Baking Sweets

Maple-Cinnamon Sweet Potato PancakesFats are essential for moist, rich baked goods, but butter adds a lot of saturated fat. Omitting the fat will produce an inedible dish, so I like to replace some of the fat with lower-calorie ingredients, such as a ripe banana, canned pumpkin or Greek yogurt. Pretty much anything that adds moisture with a bit of texture will work! I used mashed sweet potato for my Maple-Cinnamon Sweet Potato Pancakes. When baking cookies, try swapping a couple of tablespoons of butter for creamy almond butter. You’ll save about 10 calories and 6g of saturated fat per tablespoon. You also add 7g of satisfying protein to your recipe!Almond Energy Bars

An easy way to skinny up your favorite baked goods without sacrificing taste is by reducing the amount of sugar that the recipes calls for by a fourth. You won’t even notice a difference, but you’ll save some serious calories. You can further reduce the sugar content by substituting some natural sweetness with lower-calorie ingredients, such as vanilla-flavored yogurt, applesauce or pureed dates. With my Almond Energy Bars, I relied on the honey, vanilla extract, cranberries and cinnamon to sweeten the bars instead of adding sugar.  


About Tina Haupert

Tina Haupert is the creator of the popular lifestyle blog Carrots ‘N’ Cake where she writes about the balance between having fun and staying fit. Tina is a weekly contributor to and is the author of Carrots ‘N’ Cake: Healthy Living One Carrot and Cupcake at a Time. Tina’s work has been published and quoted in numerous publications including The Boston GlobeHealth, Woman’s DayShapeFitnessGlamourPeople and InStyle. Tina lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her husband, Mal, and adorable pug, Murphy. She is expecting her first child in the spring of 2014.