This classic dish became magically richer and more decadent as we lightened it up. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

Southern cooks love their banana pudding the way New Yorkers love their cheesecake. It's a traditional dessert that starts off innocently enough (with fruit, after all), until the bananas are nestled inside several layers of heavy custard, cookies, and whipped cream. A sampling of this sweet, unctuous treat can add up to 800 calories and 19 grams of saturated fat—all in one modest-sized bowl.

We start by giving the bananas a little boost, roasting the fruit in its peel to concentrate the flavor. Half then gets mashed into the custard to make it richer and creamier, and the other half is sliced for texture. Our homemade custard stays light by using 2% milk instead of half-and-half, while fluffy whipped topping steps in for heavy whipped cream. Vanilla wafers remain, for old-fashioned goodness; they soften into cakelike disks as they sit. Our new dessert has about 90% less saturated fat, 60% fewer calories—and all the Southern charm of the original.

819 calories per serving
49 grams total fat
19 grams saturated fat

295 calories per serving
5.6 grams total fat
2.1 grams saturated fat