The Reader: Lisanne Kaplan, teacher and part-time graduate student, Lyme, Connecticut
The Recipe: Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
The Story: Years ago, Kaplan flipped through a favorite cookbook to find an impressive breakfast she could make ahead for a family gathering. Her savory Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole was a smashing success and soon became a family tradition. Today breakfast remains a favorite meal in the Kaplan house, “enjoyed in pajamas with mugs of good coffee and lively conversation,” she says. But with work, school, and activities with her children, Kaplan needs a make-ahead meal that will be a more healthful, energizing start to the day.
The Dilemma: This heavyweight casserole called for 11/2 pounds pork sausage, 11/2 cups full-fat cheese, and nine whole eggs. Each serving had 10 grams of saturated fat―more than half the average daily allotment, according to the American Heart Association―and a whopping 204 milligrams of cholesterol, or two-thirds the daily limit. And the sausage and cheese contributed about 900 milligrams of sodium (or 40 percent of your daily recommended intake) per serving.
The Solution: Since breakfast turkey sausage has about one-third the fat and half the calories of pork sausage, we use 12 ounces of the flavorful poultry sausage. This eliminates three grams of saturated fat, and using a bit less turkey sausage shaves 187 milligrams of sodium and 20 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Instead of using nine large eggs, we combine three eggs with two cups egg substitute to offer a fluffy egg texture and taste without missing another two and a half grams of fat (one gram saturated) and 115 milligrams of cholesterol in each portion. The swap from whole milk to one percent low-fat milk trims another gram of fat. The last big change involves using a bit less cheese, and finely shredding reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar to better distribute the smaller amount and perk up the flavor. This cuts another two and a half grams of fat per serving. Since we halved the original amount of salt, a bit of ground red pepper adds a little spiciness and zest to the casserole while shaving some sodium. Using less sausage, cheese, and salt brings a serving to a more respectable 28 percent of your daily sodium allotment and a more healthful way to start your day.
The Feedback: Without exception, the Kaplan family agrees: Their traditional casserole is improved, with a fluffier texture and more pronounced egg and sausage flavor. No one missed the casserole’s greasy edge. “Using finely shredded sharp cheese was a great tip; the flavorful cheese was more evenly distributed throughout the dish,” Kaplan says. Her husband liked the more pronounced egg flavor, and her daughters ate more of the light version than they ate of the original.
Before | After
Calories per serving
346 | 184
25.8g | 6.8g
Percent of total calories
67 percent | 33 percent