Whether it’s Panda Express’ Orange Chicken or the Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s, we all have our junk food vices. It’s just fine to indulge every once in awhile, but what if you could make similar versions of your old favorites with healthier ingredients, less calories, and less fat? Then, even when you occasionally indulged, you could stay on track, rather than derailing your weight-loss efforts.
We went on a mission to find ten of your favorite splurges and then a recipe that promises the same flavor sans the fat. Give these a try, and in the comments, tell us what we’re missing!
Sticky, sweet, crunchy fried pieces of chicken coated in a wonderfully tangy sauce? No wonder it’s a fan favorite at Panda Express around the world. CaliCooking.com has an awesome looking copycat recipe that mimics your favorite orangey chicken without all the excess calories from deep-frying. Orange you glad we found this recipe?
Some people love the golden arches, and the number one craving from McDonald’s is the famous Big Mac. The blog Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice has a great Big Mac copycat recipe, including the special sauce, made lighter with low fat mayo, low fat French dressing, and pickle relish. While this recipe in particular isn’t traditional diet food, by using fresh ingredients and low fat substitutes where possible, it’s certainly a lighter take on your drive-through favorite.
3. Blooming Onion
This savory, fried treat is a legend at Outback Steakhouse. Served hot, crispy, and usually with a pool of grease at the bottom, the many petals of this onion are delicious with a spicy dipping sauce. However, as with most things deep fried, the nutritional stats are off the chart, with one Bloomin’ Onion clocking in at a cool 1,946 calories and 160g of fat. Gimme Some Oven’ has a good crispy baked version with maximum flavor and minimum fat.
If you love the soft, fluffy cheese biscuits from a certain restaurant named after a crimson crustacean, you’ll love these copycat Cheddar Bay Biscuits. This recipe uses skim milk and low fat cheese, slashing the calories but keeping that savory taste you know and love. They also offer a low-carb version of the biscuits, too!
St. Patrick’s Day may have just passed, but that doesn’t mean the cravings for this creamy, minty shake go away. While the original Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s has 550 calories, this recipe from Skinny Kitchen has only 184 calories per serving. Give it a try, and see if it satisfies your need for this seasonal treat.
There’s nothing like a rich, frothy Frapp on a hot day… or a cold day… or a rainy day… you get our point. The problem is that these delicious frosty drinks are sugar bombs, with over 50 grams of sugar in the grande size classic Frappucino. The blog Chocolate Covered Katie offers this slimmed-down swap, with a reader chiming in to try using the secret ingredient of fruit pectin to thicken your frapp to epic Starbucks proportion.
Seafood fanatics love the East Coast favorite Lobster Roll, a chewy roll piled high with tender chunks of lobster smothered in a creamy mayo or butter sauce. Hungry Girl’s take on a lightened up Lobster Roll is similar to low-fat alternatives to chicken or tuna salad; use fat free mayonnaise, a flavorful citrus juice, and some veggies for crunch. 179 calories? Now that’s a light lobster sandwich we can love.
Have you ever had bottomless soup at the Olive Garden? Their Zuppa Toscana is a creamy, rich broth with chunks of sausage and al dente bits of kale, topped off with a pile of Parmesan cheese. One writer at Food.com has nailed a lighter version of this hearty soup by subtly swapping heavy cream for half and half. There’s a few variations on this webpage, so if you’re a connoisseur, keep trying until you get the perfect match!
People are quite devoted to this peanutty cup of goodness (how could they not be?) because a quick search for copycat recipes turned up over 25 recipes! Here’s a few that look great to us: This recipe, from Fit Foodie Finds, uses coconut oil. This recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s site, the Kind Life, adds nuts and graham crackers for a delicious crunch. And if you’re trying to follow a low-carb plan, give these ones a try, from Desserts with Benefits. Add a glass of milk and you’re good to go!
Oh how we wish we could find a healthy version of the Quesorito, but no one has done it yet. We did find these awesome looking versions of Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizzas, looking just as flavorful as the original. If you’re looking for Taco Bell taste but can get a little bit creative with the ingredients, whip up this highly rated copycat Taco Bell seasoning blend to flavor your ingredients. If you want to take it one step further, you can even try Taco Bell sauce and slather it over everything. Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing?
Now we’re hungry. Which of these do you think you’ll try, and what are some other copycat recipes we should look for?
Author: Alyssa Curran
Alyssa Curran does social media by day and tweets pictures of her cats and food by night. When she’s not hanging out on social media, she’s writing on the Double Chin Diary, buying nail polish, or perpetually trying to get in shape.
Follow Alyssa @lyssacurran or @doublechindiary, or on Facebook here.