Jul 22, 2014 1:00 AM

Author: Anne Pesek Taylor

Heart healthy breaded chicken doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. When preparing comfort foods yourself, it is possible to tweak recipes to turn indulgences into sensible dishes. The key is to reduce fat, sugar, and sodium content, while increasing fiber. While these substitutions work for most people, if you have special dietary restrictions, please consult a dietitian or your doctor before trying these ideas.

Reduce the Fat

Low fat Greek yogurt can be a versatile substitute for fat. It can be used in place of butter, oil, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream.

  • Use 1/4 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt and ½ cup butter in place of 1 cup butter.
  • Use ¾ cup plain low fat Greek yogurt in place of 1 cup oil.
  • Use 1 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt in place of 1 cup mayonnaise, cream cheese, or sour cream.

Other fat substitutes include using applesauce, pure pumpkin, mashed banana, mashed avocado, cocoa powder, egg whites, leaner cuts of meat, or evaporated skim milk. Use half cup applesauce, pure pumpkin, mashed banana, or mashed avocado and half cup oil in place of 1 cup oil when baking.

  • Replace 1 ounce of chocolate chips with 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 1.5 teaspoons oil.
  • Use 2 egg whites in place of 1 full egg.
  • Use 99% lean ground turkey in place of ground beef. Remember that portions matter too. A portion of meat is only 3 ounces, approximately the size of a deck of cards.
  • Use 1 cup evaporated skim milk in place of 1 cup heavy cream.

Minimize Added Sugar

  • Use half the sugar in recipes for cakes, cookies, quick breads, muffins, and pies.
  • Replace the sugar in granola bar recipes with dates, figs, or other unsweetened dried fruit.
  • If you have diabetes, try replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners such as Splenda or stevia products.

Low Sodium Flavoring Tips

Herbs and spices add a lot of flavor, are salt-free, and are a rich source of antioxidants.

When buying processed foods such as frozen dinners, canned foods, and condiments, opt for low sodium or reduced-sodium options.

Always be sure to read nutrition labels. A food with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving is considered low sodium.

Bump Up the Fiber

  • Add ¼ cup raw nuts or 1 cup grated vegetables to muffin or quick-bread recipes.
  • Replace half the all-purpose flour in any recipe with a whole grain alternative.
  • Add ¼ cup ground flaxseed to bread, muffins, and smoothies for added fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

Heart Healthy Breaded Chicken Recipe


  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1 T parmesan cheese, grated
  • Pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 chicken breasts (3oz each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, combine bread, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese; season with pepper. Process until fine breadcrumbs form. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  • Dip each breast into egg white, letting excess drip off, and then into crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
  • In a large nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, 1-3 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over and put skillet in oven. Bake until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, approximately 8-12 minutes.

Recipe adapted from:

Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients

Anne Pesek Taylor

Anne is a clinical dietitian with University of Utah Health.

diet recipes

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