5 Lighter Versions of Winter Comfort Foods

I don't feel like getting all four burners going for a slow-cooked, calorie-packed gut-busting mega-meal.
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Just because it's a billion degrees outside, with humidity that makes me question why we all don't just move to Arizona, doesn't mean we stop craving the foods that got us through the bleak winter. By all means, I have a burger, a hearty stew or a Chicago-style pizza from time to time. But for the majority of my hot-summer-day meals, I don't feel like getting all four burners going for a slow-cooked, calorie-packed gut-busting mega-meal. Here are five delicious and satisfying alternatives to the foods we don't stop craving just because it's summer.

Feel like meatloaf with mashed potatoes? Try this instead:
1. Summer Turkey Meatloaf


Using turkey makes this meatloaf recipe lighter than the bacon wrapped pork/beef/veal variation - but the veggie center lends texture, taste and obvious waistline benefits. The ultimate star of this summertime meatloaf is the inclusion of peaches. It's a savory dish with the slightest hint of sweetness. Yum!

Fiending for a beef and rice bowl? Try this instead:
2. Vegetarian Chirashizushi


This looks complicated - but, believe me, it isn't. My husband hates long endeavors in the kitchen and manages to make this vegetarian dish regularly. The mushrooms bring umami, and play nicely with the miso infused tomatoes and the carrots with sesame oil. On a bed of rice, this summer dish is filling and so delish.

Want a rich, creamy risotto? Try this instead:
3. Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Parmesan


I love sitting down to a proper risotto - but tend to feel like I swallowed a cannon ball afterwards. This spaghetti squash recipe has all of the savory elements of a great risotto, with none of the guilt associated with ingesting a pound of butter, rice and cheese.

I want a mess of wings with bleu cheese! Try this instead:
4. Baked Korean Chicken Wings


Confession: I'm afraid of the deep-fat-fryer. And it has much less to do with fear of cholesterol than it does with fear or accidentally burning my face off. It drove me to find a lighter hack for making one of my favorite dishes - Korean chicken wings. I'm happy to report that it's totally possible to get a great, crunchy exterior from baking them in the oven. Phew! All the better to savor the spicy, sweet and salty marinade.

I could kill for a massive, breaded chicken parm. Try this instead:
5. Zucchini Cakes with Parmesan and Tomato Sauce


Newsflash: veggies are good for you. But what we do to them can transform them from something merely good for your body to something you look forward to devouring. Parmesan and a savory tomato sauce put this dish over the top. And if you were concerned about this zucchini cakes recipe being too healthy - don't be. They're still pan fried!

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