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Healthier Ways to Make Classic Southern Comfort Foods

Whether or not you’re from the South, there’s nothing like indulging in a big plate of fried chicken or baked mac n’ cheese. While these foods may figuratively warm your heart, they may be more dramatically harming your heart. According to a study published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal, people who regularly consume “Southern-style” cooking raise their risk of heart disease, including heart attack and heart-related death. The researchers of this study found that people who mostly ate a Southern-style diet had a 56% higher risk of heart disease than those who ate it less often.

Some of the main culprits? Fried foods, processed meats, high-fat foods, and sugary beverages — basically all the delicious staples of Southern comfort food. However, the lead researcher of this study doesn’t advise cutting these foods out of your diet all at once, since this simply isn’t realistic for long-term success. Rather, he advises slowly scaling back and introducing healthier alternatives. For a few ways to make your Southern favorites a bit more favorable for your heart, try these seven healthy recipes.

1. Fried Chicken

Plate of fried chicken | iStock.com

This staple dish in a Southern diet has the most potential to satisfy your stomach while hurting your heart. But don’t fret, it is possible to lighten up this delicious classic. Try this recipe from Paleo Foods, which uses almond flour and coconut oil for a healthier take on fried chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
  • 2 pounds chicken-thighs, drums, breasts

Directions: Heat oil in large frying pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a wire rack over a large baking sheet.

Whisk eggs in medium sized bowl. Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl and mix to combine. Set bowl with eggs and bowl with dry ingredients next to each other to create an assembly line.

Dip chicken in whisked eggs to coat, then dredge in flour. Add to hot skillet. Allow both sides to brown, about 2 minutes each side, then transfer to prepared rack. Transfer to oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool briefly, then serve.

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