Nobody knows home-cooked comfort food like the south, but sometimes southern dishes can be high in fat and calories. We’ve rounded up healthier versions of all your favorite southern dishes so you can enjoy them guilt-free. Whip up one of these recipes when you’re in need of a little southern comfort after a hard day’s work.
Gulf Crab Cakes with Lemon Butter
These Gulf Crab Cakes with Lemon Butter from Southern Living are a Texas favorite. Tender pieces of crab are folded in with bell peppers, onions and spices. Since this recipe calls for pan searing and baking the cakes rather than frying them, the calorie and fat content is much lower than regular crab cakes. Make sure you refrigerate the crab cakes for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This ensures they hold their shape while in the oven.
Blackened Cajun Tilapia
Fans of Louisiana-style cooking will love this Blackened Cajun Tilapia recipe from Once Upon a Chef. Protein-rich Tilapia fillets are rubbed with a blend of traditional Cajun spices and are then sautéed until the spices create a dark, crispy crust. This recipe takes only 15 minutes to prepare, so it’s a great option for dinner on a busy weeknight.
Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes are a classic southern dish, but for a healthier spin try this Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. This version has got far less calories than the traditional recipe since these tomatoes get their crunchy shell from baked breadcrumbs rather than a dip in a deep fryer. If you grow your own vegetables, this recipe is a tasty way to enjoy your tomatoes before they even ripen.
Shrimp and Grits
Perhaps the most famous southern dish, Shrimp and Grits get a healthy twist in this recipe from Southern Living. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper, then cook them in a reduced-sodium sauce along with some spinach. Serve the shrimp on top of the parmesan grits, a creamy, gluten-free grain made from cornmeal.
Spicy Oven-Fried Catfish
If you like your dinner with a bit of New Orleans flair, you’ll want to try this Spicy Oven-Fried Catfish recipe from Grandbaby Cakes. It features a spicy, crunchy breading on the outside and fresh fish on the inside. And since it’s not fried, there’s no guilt involved in this recipe. It features catfish, which is commonly found and eaten on the bayou. If you can’t find catfish at your local supermarket, try using another type of white fish, such as Tilapia, in its place.
Next time you’re craving some down-home southern cooking, try one of these classic dishes with a healthy twist. You’ll still get all the big, bold flavors that southern cuisine is known for—but without all the extra calories and unhealthy ingredients.
For more healthy twists on favorite recipes, check out these 5 classic recipes with healthy updates.