Joco Diversions

September 17, 2013

Eating for life — With trimmed fat and calories, comfort food gets a makeover

Au gratin potato casserole uses reduced-fat dairy products.

A box of instant au gratin potatoes from the supermarket advertises a dish “made with 100 percent real cheese and potatoes.” But the potatoes are dehydrated and the cheese sauce is powdered.

Read the ingredient list and you’ll find lots of hard-to-pronounce, scientific-sounding words. Check out the nutrition facts and you’ll discover most processed foods contain a fair amount of sodium.

No thanks.

On the flip side, homemade au gratin can drown out the positive nutritional value of potatoes with a lavish dose of heavy cream and cheddar cheese. Flipping through an issue of Country Living magazine proved the point: a recipe with 23.6 grams of fat and 780 milligrams of sodium per serving.

So what’s a conscientious cook to do?

The Star’s Au Gratin Potato Casserole uses reduced-fat dairy products to trim the fat and calories from this creamy, satisfying comfort food that few of us would be willing to banish from the dinner table.

Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, niacin and minerals. Potatoes also contain good amounts of vitamins B6 and C, and the skin is rich in fiber and iron.

Shopping tip: Red-skinned potatoes are waxier and hold their shape better than russets when boiled.

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