Healthy Southern Cooking

Southern-style food for some people is the ultimate comfort food. For those who are on a diet, however, it’s not quite as easy to sit down and find something to make that tastes delicious. Whether you prefer “meat and three,” or Texas-style BBQ, here are some southern classics made with healthier ingredients.

Collard Greens & Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Time Needed: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Black-eyed peas can be found in abundance throughout the southern United States. In some cultures, black-eyed peas are considered good luck. This recipe requires the use of a Dutch oven, which will allow you to cook everything in one pot. It also contains chicken broth with reduced sodium and plenty of vegetables for flavoring.


  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic (4 sliced and 1 whole), divided
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 4 cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 5 cups of collard greens, chopped
  • 15-oz. can of black-eyed peas
  • 6 1/2-inch-thick slices of baguette
  • 6 tsp. of shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, finely chopped

Soup Directions:

  1. Add oil and apply medium heat to your Dutch oven.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Stir until tender, about five to seven minutes.
  3. Add sliced garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Stir rapidly for about 15 seconds.
  4. Increase heat. Add broth and tomatoes.
  5. Bring to a boil while scraping up any brown bits.
  6. Stir in collard greens and reduce heat to simmer.
  7. Cook and stir occasionally, until greens are tender, about five to ten minutes.
  8. Discard the thyme sprig.
  9. Stir in black-eyed peas; let the Dutch oven cool down on a table with a towel beneath it. Let it stand for ten minutes.

Baguette Directions:

  1. Once you get the Dutch oven out, preheat your oven’s broiler.
  2. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet on the top rack and broil until lightly toasted, about two to four minutes.
  3. Rub each slice with your garlic clove. Discard the garlic once you’re done.
  4. Turn baguette over and add Swiss cheese.
  5. Once the cheese melts, take the baguettes out and serve with your soup.

Crawfish Remoulade

Time Needed: 15 minutes

Serves: 16

Looking for something besides shrimp cocktail to serve at your next gathering? Crawfish are low in fat and high in protein, making them a great alternative to shrimp. Create this easy-to-make crawfish remoulade to bring a taste of the bayou to your next event.


  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. plain fat-free yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 2 tbsp. mustard (Creole or grainy)
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs. of cooked Louisiana crawfish


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together everything but the crawfish. Add seasoning if your mixture tastes bland.
  2. Add crawfish and refrigerate until it’s time to serve.

Smoky Pork Stir Fry

Time Needed: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Use a large skillet to create a healthier version of a stir-fry. This one in particular uses low-sodium soy sauce for additional  flavor.


  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 10 oz. pork tenderloin, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. dark sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 cups of thinly sliced orange bell pepper
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • 1 tbsp. of minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of chili garlic sauce
  • 3 cups of tricolor coleslaw
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Put your skillet on high heat.
  2. Add canola oil and swirl the skillet around so all surfaces are coated.
  3. Sprinkle paprika and salt onto your pork. Put pork in the skillet.
  4. Sauté for three minutes or until browned and put cooked pork on a plate. Cover to keep warm.
  5. Reduce heat on skillet to medium-high heat.
  6. Add sesame oil and swirl to coat.
  7. Add bell pepper, peas, ginger, and garlic.
  8. Stir-fry for three minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently.
  9. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and chili garlic sauce in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  10. Add pork and soy sauce mixture to your pan and cook for one minute.
  11. Serve coleslaw on the side, sprinkle with green onions and rice vinegar, and enjoy!

Grilled Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Grilled Okra

Time Needed: 5 hours (cooking time is around 30 minutes)

Serves: 4

Southern food sometimes is attributed to poor heart health. This recipe is heart healthy, but still is rich in flavor.


  • Lemon juice from three to four lemons (1/2 cup)
  • Six to eight cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. of minced, fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. of canola oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 lbs. of boneless, thinly sliced chicken breast
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3 lb. of okra


  1. Add lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, garlic powder, and one tablespoon of oil into a small bowl. Add chicken to a large Ziploc bag along with marinade. Seal the bag, and let chicken marinate
  2. in the refrigerator for at least three hours, but no more than twelve.
  3. After you let it marinade, discard and wipe it off the chicken.
  4. Season chicken with salt and place on the grill. Chicken should cook in about seven to ten minutes and register at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. In a large bowl, add okra. Season with one tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Add okra to grill in the opposite direction of the grates (to prevent them from falling through). Grill until blistered and tender on each side.
  7. Serve chicken with okra and enjoy!

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