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Bring this favorite into the fold

Shepherd’s pie can fit in with low-calorie meal planning

At the start of the year, I was one of those people who made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Five months later, unlike many, I am still sticking to it.

To do that, I have had to say goodbye to maple-glazed doughnuts. I have not, mind you, found a replacement for them yet. What I have been able to accomplish is to find recipes that fit into my healthy eating plan.

I am prepared to share my forays into the lighter side of life. The first one is a lower-calorie way to enjoy shepherd’s pie.

When I think of this dish, a vision comes to mind that features lots of crust, maybe some gravy, chunks of meat and a vegetable or two (easy on those vegetables, please). The chances of that being reduced to something I can eat on my new plan were about 1 percent – until I made a discovery.

“Four Ingredients and 10-minute Recipes,” a Weight Watchers cookbook, showed me how easy eating light can be.

This recipe is all about precooked and easy. The hardest part was opening the meat container and not spilling it all over the cookbook. To start, I made a trip to the grocery store in search of meat, potatoes, reduced-fat cheese, and frozen vegetables.

When selecting the meat, avoid anything that has gravy. You want au jus, or you will throw off the calorie count. While I do not always find pot roast, I have used other beef in au jus, and once I tried pork. I found beef to be much better than pork.

On the potatoes, my fear was picking a package that had too much pepper in it. I have yet to find one that’s over-peppered, much to my relief.

When confronting the choice of frozen vegetables, I try to avoid packages with potato and corn. I do not care for lima beans, so I have an eye out for packages without those, as well. Select according to your personal taste, and experiment to find the mix that suits you. My tip: The least expensive brands work just fine.

Locating the cheese has never been a problem for me. As for the parsley, I have not used it and I do not miss it. Feel free to try it.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it walks you through each step and keeps you busy with one ingredient, while another is being heated. I do not feel like I am bouncing around the kitchen without purpose trying to keep up. Believe me, I do bounce around the kitchen normally. A small kitchen is my only salvation.

Once the dish is completed, measure out a cup and serve. For me, the cup is filling and takes up a space on the plate that makes you think you’re getting a reasonable portion. It looks large enough to almost make you feel guilty.

If you have leftovers, try freezing them in cup portions for quick meals later. It is very successfully thawed.

As for my maple-frosted doughnuts, I did find maple flavoring. Now, what can I put that in without breaking the calorie bank? Have an idea? Let me know.

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