10 Secret Ingredients for Healthier Recipes


These recipes from Bobby Deen have a secret –– a secret ingredient, that is. He sneaks nutrition-rich foods into each dish to add a healthful boost, and he swaps in lighter versions of comforting ingredients to allow you to eat healthily and indulge at the same time.


Lighter Spinach Artichoke Dip

Bobby subs out calorie-laden mayo and sour cream for protein-rich Greek yogurt in his spinach artichoke dip, resulting in a thick, chunky spread that's perfect for topping homemade pita wedges.

Get the Recipe: Lighter Spinach Artichoke Dip

Eggplant Lasagna

Though it's light and airy, ricotta cheese (used in lasagna recipes and to fill other pastas like ravioli and manicotti) is quite high in fat. Bobby replaces some of the ricotta in this recipe with soft tofu and uses other lighter ingredients like lean ground turkey and part-skim mozzarella.

Get the Recipe: Eggplant Lasagna

Lentil and Sausage Soup

To some, salty, savory sausages are the ultimate comfort food –– especially when simmered in a soup, which imparts their flavor to all the ingredients in the bowl. Here Bobby proves that leaner chicken sausage can add that same flavor to a lentil-and-veggie broth without tipping the nutritional-stats scale.

Get the Recipe: Lentil and Sausage Soup

Spiced Apple Cake

The secret to a super-moist but lighter cake? Cut the amount of butter and oil by working applesauce into the batter. And in this recipe, it adds even more apple flavor.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Apple Cake

Lighter Hummus

Though most people think hummus is a natural health food, chickpeas are actually quite carbohydrate- and fat-dense. Bobby lightens the dip by working in steamed cauliflower, also adding the cruciferous veggie's vitamins and nutrients.

Get the Recipe: Lighter Hummus

Peanut Sesame Noodles

Low-carb, low-calorie Japanese shirataki noodles are the perfect substitute in any pasta-based dish. Here the glassy plant-based strands soak up a peanut butter, soy and vinegar sauce that makes them taste like more-indulgent takeout peanut noodles.

Get the Recipe: Peanut Sesame Noodles

Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie

You might not think of adding oats to your drinks, but blending them into this simple apple, Greek yogurt and nonfat milk smoothie actually makes it taste like oatmeal (no cooking required). The thick, filling cinnamon-flecked drink is the perfect on-the-go morning beverage.

Get the Recipe: Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie

Easy Breakfast Toast

Take a page out of health-conscious Californians' books by incorporating avocado into your breakfast routine. Bobby says it works as a wonderful substitute for cream cheese, butter or mayo on any and all sandwiches, including this classic egg-and-tomato-topped toast.

Get the Recipe: Easy Breakfast Toast

Ginger Spice Cookies

These sweetly spiced cookies feature the of-the-moment ingredient coconut sugar. Despite its name, this coconut palm-based sugar actually has a caramel-like flavor and works as a great substitute for brown sugar in baking recipes. It's valued for its low glycemic index, which means one's blood sugar levels won't spike as quickly when compared with recipes containing regular sugars.

Get the Recipe: Ginger Spice Cookies

Smothered Pork Chops

Recipes that claim to be "smothered" typically are: in heavy cream and other sorts of sauce-thickening ingredients. Here Bobby uses 2 percent evaporated milk, which imparts the Southern comfort with that expected rich flavor at less nutritional expense.

Get the Recipe: Smothered Pork Chops