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Volume II
June 30, 2006

Good For You Casseroles

cookingMany casseroles with all their sour cream, cheese, and condensed soups are not always the healthiest choice at the dinner table. However, with a casseroles great taste and convenience they are hard to pass by. So for those of us who are trying to watch our waistlines there are some simple substitutions.

We all know that we can choose to use the low-fat and fat free sour cream. Choose mozzarella instead of cheddar. Those substitutions are simple. But what about your creamy condensed soups; they always add so much to a casserole. Here is a great option from Karma Metzgar.

Make Your Own Casserole Sauce Mix By Karma Metzgar, Regional Nutrition Specialist

Casseroles and cream soups go together. They are great on homegrown vegetables fresh from the garden, jar or freezer. But the more we read the labels, and if you're into watching sodium in your diet and economics, there has to be an alternative. There is. You can make your own healthy casserole or cream soup mix. I keep a container of the mix handy for white sauces, gravies and soups. The mix uses low fat and low sodium ingredients. You'll be surprised how easy the mix is to use and so much healthier. For example, one 10.5-ounce can of cream soup has 225 calories and 12.5 grams of fat. The homemade mix has only 107 calories and just 1 gram of fat. If we compared a 1/2 cup serving, it would be 90 calories verses 43 calories and 5 grams of fat verses a trace. The sodium picture is even brighter. One can of soup has 2,225 milligrams of sodium compared to 1,200 in the casserole sauce mix if regular bouillon is used. Per one-half cup serving, this translates into 890 milligrams or 37 percent daily value for the canned soup and 480 milligrams or 20 percent daily value for the casserole mix. If you use reduced sodium bouillon as called for in the recipe, you'd reduce the sodium level even more. Not only will you spare your body fat and sodium, you'll be saving pennies for your pocket too and eliminating cans from the landfill! The homemade casserole sauce mix is a basic white sauce mix with some herbs if you choose. When ready to use, if you like cream of celery soup, add some chopped fresh celery to your dish. If you prefer cream of mushroom, add some fresh or canned mushroom pieces. Or, if it's cream of broccoli, add fresh or frozen chopped broccoli. Be creative.

Healthy Casserole Sauce Mix  -  Use instead of canned cream soup.

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch or clear gel
  • 1/4 cup instant reduced sodium chicken or beef bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed thyme (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper

Directions: Combine ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

To prepare as a substitute for one can of condensed cream soup in recipes, stir together 1/3 cup dry mix and 1 1/4 cup water in a saucepan or microwave cooking dish. Cook and stir until thickened. Mix makes the equivalent of nine cans condensed soup.

As you plan your company dishes for this holiday season, why don't you mix up a batch of casserole sauce mix and cook up a healthy holiday meal. By sharing your healthy version of the family's favorite dishes, you just might encourage other family members to try the casserole sauce mix too. Of course, you could always mix up a batch and give it as a gift using a recipe card as a gift tag.

* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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