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 can’t wait to meet you at the event tonight in Florence. My friend has been singing your praises as a good southern cook and by the looks of your website I believe she is right! Congrats on your dream coming true!

  2. Have you ever used stevia in your recipes instead of splenda/ideal? Stevia is all natural and sweeter than sugar.

    1. My daughter-in-law had breast cancer (over 10 yrs & she is still cancer free) and her surgeon told her to use Stevia instead of sugar since his thinking was cancer thrives on sugar and Stevia is natural. Since I live in rural area I frequently have to order online food products since I have celiac disease sand must have all gluten free.

      Enjoying lots of your recipes & using Stevia inh them.

  3. Love this. I will have to check out Ideal but I’ve been using splenda for years. I only have sugar in the house for my dad and hubby for their coffee or hot tea. Wonder if I could make vanilla splenda like I did with sugar? Will have to try later

  4. Just so you are aware, Ideal is mostly Xylitol, a natural sweetened. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from several different sources, Xylitol is deadly for dogs. So if you have pets, please be careful that they don’t eat anything with Ideal in it.

  5. Christy-

    Thanks so much for this little bit of home in a reduced calorie version! As a person who had Bariatric surgery 8 months ago, I am always looking for different ways to make some old favorites! I did make the trifle for a party a few weeks ago and used sugar free everything and low fat cool whip-It received rave reviews!

    Now I have other things to satisfy my comfort spot! Thanks for your help, Hun!
    I’ll be looking for Ideal, but these Yankees don’t seem to stock a lot of Southern helpers! So I’ll probably have to keep using Splenda!
    Looking forward to more low calorie and low fat and sugar recipes!!

  6. IDEAL is handled by PIGGLY WIGGLY STORES if you have them in your area, just GOOLE piggly wiggly and it has a store locator. I paid 4.09 for a 10.6 oz bag which is cheaper than SPLENDA.

  7. Woodrow Hall was pleased to host the Food Blog South yesterday where Christy Jordan gave a great presentation on how to market your blog! While enjoying a sampling of coffee from The Finer Grind and snacks from Susan Rice Truffless, whole foods Birmingham and a number of others, the ~150 people wondered around a recently restored century old building that is a designated historical building in Birmingham’s NE side of town.

    We thank you Christy!

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