Your favorite restaurant dishes made lighter in 30 minutes or less!
Story: Ann Pittman, Recipes: David Bonom, Photography: Leri Brown
March 03, 2011
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Our Favorite Takeout Recipe Makeovers
You don't have to dial out for your favorite restaurant dishes any longer. We have given a few takeout classics healthy makeovers that will be just as craveable as their often guilt-laden counterparts.
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First up, Pizza Surpreme. Authentic wood-fired pizza is all the rage, but a great deal of the pies eaten in America are still pepperoni, meat-lover's, and supreme versions from 1-800 sources. But why eat heavy when you can have the same pleasure in a lighter pizza package? We attacked the supreme formula, leaning on veggies and walking back the meat (just one sausage link for the whole pizza). It's enough for flavor but doesn't leave you with pools of grease to blot. Lean turkey sausage stands in for pork, and lower-sodium marinara anchors the toppings. But, knowing when a low-fat swap is not worth it, we use full-fat mozzarella (and a generous amount of it)—which makes our pizza irresistible.
Calories Takeout: 507 | Ours: 344
Fat Takeout: 24g | Ours: 3g
Saturated fat Takeout: 10.7g | Ours: 4.1g
Sodium Takeout: 1,333mg | Ours: 640mg
Ready in 30 min.
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The burger craze is red-hot, ranging from the wagyu-brisket fads of big-city chefs to the "Look, Ma" mega-burgers at the chains. Those giants can serve up most of a day's calories, more than a day's fat, and a shakerful of salt. We decided to start with something more reasonable yet still deliciously iconic: the legendary In-N-Out cheeseburger. Ours is a tasty handful, with a similar addictive sauce, but about 40% less fat and saturated fat, thanks to lean ground sirloin and lower-sodium, lighter cheese. We even one-upped the Cali classic by adding avocado.
Calories Takeout: 480 | Ours: 389
Fat Takeout: 27g | Ours: 16.5g
Saturated fat Takeout: 10g | Ours: 5.8g
Sodium Takeout: 1,000mg | Ours: 806mg
Ready in 22 min.
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Chicken Fried Rice
Along with iridescent sweet-and-sour pork, fried rice is one of those comforting Chinese-American hybrids that populates every Chinese take-out menu in the country. Almost everyone who loves fried rice is drawn to its salty, greasy goodness. The problem is the salty, greasy part, because underneath is a reasonable rice and lean-protein dish, flecked with vegetables. Our riff uses a bit of lower-sodium soy, then boosts the savor with sweet-salty hoisin sauce and fiery chili paste. Sodium savings: about 60%. Comfort factor: still high.
Calories Takeout: 455 | Ours: 477
Fat Takeout: 13.5g | Ours: 11.7g
Saturated fat Takeout: 3g | Ours: 1.7g
Sodium Takeout: 1,122mg | Ours: 488mg
Ready in 25 min.
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Shrimp Pad Thai
Pad Thai is the chop suey of Thai takeout, the "safe" choice. But it's also a delicious version of a real Thai dish. Its flavors are complex—salty, slightly fishy-fermenty, a tad sweet. The main nutrition killer here is sodium (well over a full-day's worth in a single serving), found mostly in the fish sauce that's key to the flavor. But a small amount of this fragrant staple provides the right notes without overpowering the American palate. We keep the palate intrigued with an interesting interplay of textures: silky noodles, crisp bean sprouts, and crunchy nuts.
Calories Takeout: 668 | Ours: 462
Fat Takeout: 14.5g | Ours: 16.1g
Saturated fat Takeout: 2.5g | Ours: 1.6g
Sodium Takeout: 2,771mg | Ours: 779mg
Ready in 25 min.
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The food truck trend offers everything from Korean-fusion tacos at
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The lure of Greek takeout begins at the altar of the gyro—hot slivers carved from cones of lamb or other meat that turn and sizzle in the windows of small restaurants across the land, calling out to passersby. But garlicky grilled souvlaki can be even better. Our version stars lean chicken breast, served in pitas with a tangy sesame-yogurt-cucumber sauce. The sauce flavors the sandwich but does not drown it, keeping calories in check. The astronomical sodium in the takeout probably comes from simple added salt, easily adjusted at home. We use just ¼ teaspoon, cutting sodium by 75%. Garlicky-herby-savory deliciousness: unchanged.