RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Thanks to visions of deep-fat frying and, well, more deep-fat frying, Southern food usually isn’t the first thing you think of when you're looking for healthy menu options. But Southern cooking can be as healthy as any other cuisine, thanks to options in the Rodale Recipe Finder. With this easy-to-use resource, even Yankees can enjoy old-time Southern favorites like succulent pork barbecue, tangy coleslaw, smoky, bacon-infused greens, and crispy chicken. And you’ll get all the incredible flavor of these dishes with a lot less fat, salt, and sugar.
When trying these Southern-cooking recipes, it's always good to include sides like hearty baked beans, collards, and coleslaw. Southern-style baked beans are slightly sweetened with sugar and molasses, but the beans come packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Even with a bit of bacon or salt pork added for flavor, these beans are way better for you than deep-fried foods like french fries or hush puppies.
Hearty, dark-green collard greens come from the same plant family as broccoli and brussels sprouts, so they’re one of the healthiest Southern sides you can order, provided you keep away from too much added fat and sugar. The recipe below provides you with a day's worth of vitamin A, a whopping two days' worth of vitamin K, and a healthy dose of sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Try seasoning them with Canadian bacon, which is leaner than regular bacon but still full of flavor.
Vinegar-based coleslaws are the best choice when it comes to reducing fat intake. But you can still enjoy creamy coleslaw, if that’s a nonnegotiable item. Just be sure to sub in some low-fat or nonfat yogurt or sour cream for some or all of the traditional mayonnaise.
On to the entrées: Classic pork barbecue and crispy, moist chicken: What picnic or cookout would be complete without 'em? Season your Southern pulled pork with a zesty, vinegar-based sauce, which accentuates the meat's true flavor. Other Southern traditions call for tomato-based sauces, which can all be made without unhealthy additions such as tons of sugar.