Better for Your Diet Southern Recipe Collection

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Mention Southern food and whats the first thing that comes to mind? Fried Chicken, lard, deep fried everything. We have a reputation for eating what many consider the most unhealthy food out there but I think that is mostly due to tourists stopping over and getting “authentic” Southern cuisine served at roadside diners.

Now don’t get me wrong, that stuff is delicious but folks who think we live on fried chicken just need an opportunity to see the rest of what the Southern heart and stomach considers comfort food. Fried chicken was a delicacy in the old south, one hard to come by and therefore cherished on the rare occasion it was served but nowadays I may eat fried chicken once a month at best. What I DO eat is a LOT of vegetables, a lot of fruit, and we drink an awful lot of water and tea (not always with sugar as you’ll see below!).

During one of our typical summers, with our temperatures and humidity, its impossible to survive without taking in more fluids than a camel in the Sahara!

Now let me issue my disclaimer about my view of dieting: I refuse to consider any vegetable “bad”, my common sense won’t let me. Some of these may be carb heavy, some of these may have spices or seasonings that are considered “bad” according to some, and thats perfectly alright because at the end of the day we all have to rely on our own common sense when it comes to what we choose to eat. I just want to bring you some lightened up versions of old classics and a few recipes that fall on the healthier side that you may not have thought of.

I understand that some people have personal convictions on using artificial sweeteners and that there are some who have conditions which prohibit using of them and trust that you, also, will use your best judgement and modify any of my recipes you’d like to use in order to suit you and your family.

So lets start things off by letting you know what I do differently to the following dishes in order to make them feast friendly for those of us who are watching our sugar and calories. I’m afraid I can’t give you nutritional values. I can’t tell you how many calories per serving or how many grams of sugar, fat, or protein each dish offers. It would be nice if I had that ability but I don’t own any fancy shmancy software to allow me to do that (and I detest math enough not to even attempt to calculate it on my own) so I’m afraid you’re on your own there. One of these days I’d like to be able to add all of that in but for now I’m just happy to get my stories in about why these dishes are so special to me. So in lieu of nutritional information, please accept my remembrances and gratitude for letting me bring them to you.

A note about Splenda: In most of the sweet recipes, all I do differently is substitute Splenda for sugar. I don’t use name brand Splenda.

My FAVORITE sugar alternative, though, is Ideal No Calorie Sweetener. This is the one natural sugar substitute that I actually enjoy baking with. Muffins, cakes, sweet breads, and cookies, IDEAL works like a charm when substituted for sugar (you cannot substitute Splenda directly for sugar in baked goods as it does not bake the same as sugar does). Unfortunately, Ideal is not available in my area but the company was kind enough to send me a shipment to experiment with and  I can order it online through A lot of you can get it where you are from, though, so be sure and check and give it a try if you’d like to try my absolute favorite sugar substitute. It makes the most divine sweet tea!

My best advice when substituting Splenda for sugar is to use a hair less Splenda than the sugar it calls for. For example: If a recipe calls for one cup of sugar, measure out a cup of Splenda (don’t pack it!) and remove a tablespoon.

The common mistake most people make is to add a little more Splenda than what the recipe calls for in sugar and that yields an artificially sweetened taste. So use a little less and you’ll be just fine 🙂 .

Now, how about some Southern Classics without the guilt?

“Free” Soup – Dieter’s Best Friend!

Many diets have “free” vegetables which are simply vegetables allowed in any quantities without restriction. This incredibly flavorful soup combines many of those in a rich broth that is sure to satisfy and can be eaten anytime to help fight off munchies!

Fire & Ice Salad

Substitute Splenda or Ideal for the sugar to make this diet friendly.

I know y’all will eventually get tired of me talking about this stuff, but I can’t help it! I swear I could live on Fire & Ice Salad!

Fresh Strawberryade

When I need a divine treat, this is the way to go. Fresh Strawberries and sugar free drink mix are the only ingredients but you won’t believe the taste! During the middle of winter, I think we need a taste of summer more than ever!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I could eat these every night and they sure are easy!

Almost No Sugar Ice Cream Grahamwiches

They are not only delicious but another great treat ready from your freezer anytime!

Simple Squash

Truly, about as simple as it gets and full of natural flavor. I love the story that goes along with this post, too.

Healthier meals? Bring back the relish tray!

This is a quick, easy, and no nonsense way to get kids to pig out on raw veggies with wild abandon!

Chocolate Gravy Made With Splenda

WHAT? You’ve been doing without CHOCOLATE GRAVY?

Get on in that kitchen and mix up this recipe, substituting Splenda or Ideal for the sugar- Its how I make mine and my kids have never known!

In fact, this chocolate gravy pictured was made with Splenda.

Homemade Banana Pudding

Ahhh, the dish that started Southern Plate! I make my banana pudding with all Splenda instead of sugar. I use regular Nilla Wafers because they don’t have much sugar in them anyway, but you can buy sugar free wafers if you like!

Southern Style Rice Pudding

Yup…I even substituted Splenda for the sugar in this rice pudding, too…Mama Reed would be proud!

Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake

Now for this gorgeous little thing, we use sugar free jello and light or fat free whipped topping, fat free angel food cake, and fresh strawberries to create a light and delicious dessert!

Hot Apple Flautas

These hit the spot when you want something quick and sweet. Warm apple pie in a crispy tortilla shell, I use Splenda in place of sugar throughout this recipe and omit the caramel sauce at the end.

My husband can never tell if I’ve made them with Splenda or sugar!


Craving a tropical drink? Something icy and cool ? I LOVE bananaritas (they are non-alcoholic!).

I mix up a batch of these using splenda in place of the sugar.

Sweet Tea: Elixir Of The South

Y’all know I can’t even remember the last time I drank sweet tea with sugar-

It’s been almost ten years! I substitute Splenda or Ideal for the sugar.

Ideal is my favorite if I have it. So much like the real thing!

Depression Bread Pudding

If you’re a bread pudding lover like me, you’ll love this recipe which uses leftover hamburger or hot dog buns.

Splenda for the sugar, and you can eat it guilt free!

Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes

I often make this recipe and use Splenda in place of the sugar.

You can omit the marshmallows and still have a wonderfully delicious dessert or side dish.

Holiday Fruit Salad

Just use light fruit cocktail in place of regular and Splenda or Ideal in place of the sugar.

This is what I’m asking for as dessert on my birthday 🙂

(hint, hint, Mama)


I hope you enjoy these lightened up Southern classics. Remember, whether you’re struggling with weight, wrinkles, career, or any of the other countless things we are constantly working on in our lives, the most important part of who you are and what you are contributing to the world is your heart and we love you right where you are right now :).

Put your heart into today!



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  1. I know how much you hate calorie-counting, Christy, but for those of us who do, I just wanted to add that the Ground Beef Stew is surprisingly low calorie for a main dish. I estimate the calories for a lot of your recipes by googling the calories for individual ingredients and adding them up, then dividing by total servings; I’ve never minded math, so it’s not too much trouble. It does pay off – over the past year, my husband’s lost 65 lbs and I’ve lost 30. That being said, today is a cheat day, and I’m making four crockpots of your Cheesy Chicken w/Yellow Rice to feed to the hungry at my workplace, and last night I made 100 of those Oreo truffle-thingies (I forget what exactly you call them!) Do I plan to dig in with everyone else? HECK YEAH!!!

  2. Thank you Christy! I’m diabetic and need to be careful, but I love to cook (and eat, of course, lol)! I especially appreciate your comments, you always touch my heart and make me feel better about things. God Bless You and yours!

  3. Christy,
    I also use Ideal Sweetner and have for several years. Love it and love to bake with it. My research came up with xylitol having been around for over 30 years. I also like that it is a natural unaltered substance. Keep up the great work!!!
    Susan B

  4. Christy,these recipes look so yummy,i can’t wait too try your fruit salad,I’m making your Candied apples tonight with dinner 🙂 have a great you

  5. OK…I’m splurgin’ a bit today ’cause it’s my birthday…but I’ll be back on track tomorrow, so these recipes will certainly help! Gotta keep on keepin’ on…youknowwhattamean?!!!

  6. Thanks Christy! My husband, Todd, was diagnosed a diabetic last June…I’ve been looking for some sugar free, low carb “sweets” to fix for him. He’ll love the Grahamwhiches, Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake, Cinnamon Apple Fritters and also the Fresh Strawberry-Ade!!

  7. Thank you for posting this today. My husband and I re-joined Weight Watchers and I had to limit myself to your recipes once a week. It was killing us! LOL

    And your final thought – boy did I need that today.

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