7 Healthier Ways to Make Restaurant and Pub Foods at Home
Quintessential pub fare consists of hearty sandwiches, cheesy appetizers, and fried entrees that are packed with fat, calories, and unhealthy ingredients. Even though we know these dishes are unhealthy, it can be hard to resist them when a fried-food craving hits.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution that will satisfy your cravings without ruining your diet: You can prepare healthy versions of your favorite pub foods. From Baked Fish and Chips to Skinny Buffalo Wings With Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip, these seven recipes show you how to transform your favorite pub foods into healthy dishes you can feel good about eating.
1. Baked Mozzarella Sticks
Tasty as they may be, there is nothing healthy about fried, fat-filled mozzarella sticks. Fortunately, you can prepare AllRecipes.com’s Baked Mozzarella Sticks, a non-fried alternative that cuts back on fat by using reduced-fat cheese.
- 1 (12-ounce) package reduced-fat mozzarella string cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 8 tablespoons bread crumbs
- ½ cup prepared marinara sauce, warmed
Directions: Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Remove cheese from packaging and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg until foamy. In small nonstick skillet, mix Italian seasoning with bread crumbs and place over medium heat. Cook and stir bread crumbs until lightly browned.
Dip one piece of string cheese in egg until coated and then into toasted bread crumbs, coating completely. Re-dip the string cheese in egg and again into the bread crumbs, if desired. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining string cheese and place on baking sheet 1½ inches apart. Spray string cheese lightly with cooking spray. Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until heated through.
2. Power Nachos
Do you typically find yourself devouring a large plate of nachos when you swing by your favorite pub? Rather than succumbing to this calorie-packed, fat-riddled dish, we suggest making Health’s Power Nachos. The recipe yields 4 servings, with each containing 393 calories, 16 grams of fat, 18 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, finely chopped, plus leaves for garnish
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
- 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces multigrain tortilla chips
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ avocado, diced
- Salsa, for serving
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, mash the oil, 1 cup beans, chopped cilantro, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. In another bowl, toss the celery, onion, ¾ cup beans, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Spread chips on a baking sheet; cover with the cheese. Bake until cheese melts. Top the hot nachos with the bean mixtures, avocado, and salsa; garnish with cilantro leaves.
3. Skinny Buffalo Wings With Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip
If you can’t imagine watching your favorite team without an order of wings by your side, we suggest making Malibu Kitchen’s Skinny Buffalo Wings With Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip, which are broiled, rather than fried. This recipe was adapted from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, Comfort Food Fix: Feel-Good Favorites Made Healthy, and Lifetime Television’s Cook Yourself Thin. It yields 4 servings, with each containing 434 calories, 16.8 grams of fat, and 65.8 grams of protein.
- 2 pounds chicken party wings
- ¾ cup hot sauce, plus more for serving
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
- Cooking spray
- 3 large ribs celery, cut into sticks
- 1 recipe Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip
- ⅓ cup low-fat buttermilk
- ⅓ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- Pinch each of salt and pepper
Directions: To prepare the dip, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend. To prepare the wings, preheat the broiler. Place the wings in a large pot and fill the pot with water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and then continue to boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and broth and set aside.
Transfer the wings to a baking sheet or broiler pan that has been lightly coated with cooking spray and broil 5 to 6 inches from the flame, until the skin begins to blister and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn over the wings and broil until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes more. Watch the wings very carefully once they’re under the broiler; once they begin to brown, it happens quite quickly. Using tongs, add wings to the sauce and stir to evenly coat wings.
Transfer the wings to a baking sheet, drizzle with the reserved sauce, and toss well to coat. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the wings over and broil an additional 1 to 2 minutes, to heat the wings and sauce together. Serve the broiled Buffalo wings with extra hot sauce on the side, celery sticks, and the buttermilk blue cheese dip.
4. Skinny Baked Jalapeño Poppers
There’s no need to eat a full-fat order of jalapeño poppers when you can enjoy Skinny Taste’s reduced-fat, baked version instead. Two poppers contain 61.6 calories and 2.7 grams of fat.
- 12 jalapeño peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
- 4.5 ounces light cream cheese
- 5 medium scallions, green part only, sliced
- 2 ounces shredded low-fat sharp cheddar
- ½ cup egg beaters or egg whites, beaten
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
- Salt and fresh pepper
- Spray oil
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wearing rubber gloves, cut peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and membrane. Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and scallions in a medium bowl. Combine panko, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in another bowl. Fill peppers with cheese filling with a small spoon or spatula.
Dip peppers in egg beaters. Place pepper in panko mixture, using a spoon to make sure all the seasoning doesn’t fall to the bottom of the bowl. Spray a baking pan with oil spray. Lightly spray the peppers with a little more oil spray. Bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and cheese oozes out. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Serve hot.
5. Baked Fish and Chips
Say sayonara to fried fish and instead make Food Network’s Baked Fish and Chips. The recipe yields 4 servings; each has 442 calories, 15 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.
- 3 medium Russet potatoes (1¼ pounds)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 2¾ cups crispy rice cereal
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large egg whites
- 1½ pounds skinless, boneless Pollock (or other firm white fish), cut into 2-by-4-inch pieces
- Tartar sauce and/or malt vinegar, for serving (optional)
Directions: Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit using the convection setting, if available. Place a baking sheet on one of the racks to preheat. To prepare the chips, cut the potatoes into ¼-inch-thick sticks. Toss with the olive oil and cayenne in a bowl. Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven, add the potatoes, and spread in an even layer.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape any oil from the bowl over the potatoes. Bake on the top oven rack, turning once, until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with salt. To make the fish, set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Lightly crush the cereal in a bowl with your fingers. Add 2 teaspoons salt and black pepper to taste.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until frothy. Dip the fish in the egg whites, then roll in the cereal crumbs to coat. Place the fish pieces on the rack and mist with cooking spray. Bake the fish on the bottom oven rack until crisp and just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve the fish and chips with tartar sauce and/or malt vinegar, if desired.
6. Turkey Reuben Sandwiches
A Reuben sandwich is often packed with fatty corn beef, cheese, sauerkraut, and dressing. Livestrong notes that when you eat a restaurant-made reuben, you’ll often consume between 530 to 900 calories. Instead, prepare Cooking Light’s Turkey Reuben Sandwich, which contains 255 calories, 10.7 grams of fat, 3.4 grams of fiber, and 19.6 grams of protein.
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 8 slices rye bread
- 4 (1-ounce) slices reduced-fat, reduced-sodium Swiss cheese
- 8 ounces smoked turkey, thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup fat-free Thousand Island dressing
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Directions: Spread about ¾ teaspoon mustard over each bread slice. Place 1 cheese slice on each of 4 bread slices. Divide turkey evenly over cheese. Top each serving with 2½ tablespoons sauerkraut and 1 tablespoon dressing. Top each serving with 1 bread slice, mustard sides down.
Heat 1½ teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 sandwiches to pan; top with another heavy skillet. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden; remove sandwiches from pan, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and sandwiches.
7. Pecan and Mushroom Burgers
Between the sodium, fat, and calories, pub burgers can do serious damage to your diet. With Eating Well’s Pecan and Mushroom Burgers, though, you can enjoy great flavor without the guilt. These patties are filled with toasted pecans, mushrooms, and bulgur, and pair well with a creamy blue cheese sauce. One patty contains 197 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber.
- ⅔ cup bulgur
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 cup boiling water
- 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces white or brown mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and chopped
- 1½ cups chopped onion (1 large)
- 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup pecan halves
- Blue Cheese Sauce, optional
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup fine dry breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 whole-wheat buns (optional)
- Watercress, for garnish
Directions: Place bulgur and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over, cover, and set aside until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing out excess liquid. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar.
Immediately transfer the mixture to a plate and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Toast pecans in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Prepare Blue Cheese Sauce, if using. Combine the vegetable mixture and pecans in a food processor; pulse briefly until coarsely chopped. Add egg and the bulgur; pulse briefly, scraping down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is cohesive but roughly textured.
Transfer to a bowl; stir in breadcrumbs and pepper. Mix well. With dampened hands, form the mixture into eight ½-inch-thick patties, using about ½ cup for each. Using 2 teaspoons oil per batch, cook 4 patties at a time in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until evenly browned and heated through, about 4 minutes per side. Meanwhile, split and toast buns, if using, to serve the burgers on. Garnish the burgers with watercress and the cheese sauce, if desired.