13 Healthier Old-Fashioned Midwestern Recipes To Try Tonight – Eat This Not That

Midwest is comfort food, which is great. But what’s not so heartwarming is that while these dishes may offer a hug, they’re not necessarily the healthiest dishes in the American Heartland.

but, it’s an easy fix. Here are 13 old-school Midwestern recipe ideas made with better-for-you ingredients that you’ll love to eat. and manufacturing. And then don’t miss 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022.


The Midwest is pie country, and this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is loaded with fresh, seasonal fruit. So it’s healthier than other iconic Midwestern pies (think sugar cream pie). And not just any fruit, but the fruit. “Rhubarb is so popular in the Midwest that it’s called the pie plant,” says Emma Essence, recipe creator and founder of GasolineEat. “This pie is wholesome, tangy, perfectly sweet, and the ultimate treat.”

Get the recipe from Gasoline eats.

healthy ranch
Courtesy of Forked Spoon

It’s this corner of the country’s most iconic condiment, paired with everything from cheese curds and nachos to salads and even pizza. Jessica Randhawa from The forked spoon shares her homemade ranch dressing recipe. It’s made with Greek yogurt rather than typical buttermilk and other affordable ingredients, takes just five minutes to prepare, and is much healthier than store-bought, she says.

Get the recipe from The forked spoon.

Courtesy of ifoodreal

Potatoes and the Midwest are best friends, and potato salad is a potato dish. This recipe is lower in fat with a few simple ingredients – it’s lightened up with Greek yogurt and a bit of mayonnaise “to keep the authentic taste,” says Olena Osipov of ifoodreal. “No one would even guess they’re eating a healthy version of this classic side because of its amazing taste and texture.”

Get the recipe from ifoodreal.

fried chicken strips
Courtesy of Crinkled Cookbook

Fried chicken is a classic Midwestern favorite, but you can ditch the heavy cooking oil, even the sidekick of sauce, and still enjoy a wonderful meal of fried chicken, says Melinda Keckler, recipe creator and founder of Crumpled Recipe book culinary blog. In fact, you won’t even need a frying pan to make his Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Strips. The chicken is tenderized in buttermilk, then baked. “The combination of flavors might remind you of your grandma’s classic recipe from the Midwest,” she says.

Get the recipe from crumpled cookbook.

Courtesy of Midwest Homelife

Meatballs with a spin. “They’re like those grape jelly meatballs that were at literally every family potluck I’ve been to…except they’re vegetarian, made with chickpeas,” says Cara Lanz of Midwestern HomeLife.

Get the recipe from Midwest HomeLife.

RELATED: 35+ Twists on the Classic Meatball Recipe

Courtesy of Midwest Homelife

A Super Bowl party in the Midwest wouldn’t be a good party without Buffalo Chicken Dip, a fan favorite but nothing to cheer about from a health perspective. This Cara Lanz recipe from a Midwest HomeLife scores points — no bottled cream cheese or dressing is used. It’s built with a layer of creamy white bean hummus topped with Greek yogurt blue cheese, chicken, and co-jack cheese.

Get the recipe from Midwest HomeLife.

Courtesy of Midwest Homelife

“Until recently, I didn’t know that Midwesterners were the only ones who called chocolate chip mint ice cream ‘peppermint bon bon’,” says Cara Lanz of Midwestern HomeLife. “This mint chocolate chip or ‘nice cream’ ice cream is dairy free and made with frozen bananas, chocolate chips and mint Oreos.” It is the mixed frozen bananas that create the “ice cream”.

Get the recipe from Midwest HomeLife.

salmon burgers
Courtesy of FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar

White Castle’s invention of the slider (or mini burger) in Wichita, Kansas in 1921 started a love affair with burgers in the Midwest. But with a trend shift away from eating red meat, many restaurants have been looking for ways to reinvent this iconic sandwich. To FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, the sliders slide into the salmon. Greens tossed in a honey Dijon vinaigrette top the salmon, adding a touch of sweetness and tartness to create a balanced, summer-inspired dish.

Get the recipe from endless appetite.

RELATED: Burger King’s Best Burger

Courtesy of POM Wonderful

Another Midwestern favorite: Crispy Potato Skins. Charge me or not, for leaner skin, try POM Wonderful Pomegranate Seeds – antioxidant-rich pomegranate boosts health.

Get the recipe from POM Wonderful.

pistachio cheese balls

The Midwest loves cheese. A healthier version of the beloved cheese ball is topped off by combining pistachios with creamy vegan cheese. Pistachios are a complete protein, so they’re great on a protein snack board.

Get the recipe from Wonderful pistachios.

Courtesy of Maven Cookery

More cheese.

Wisconsin cookbook author and food blogger Morgan Couch has a recipe for Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks. Made from egg wrappers and melted cheese, these cheese sticks raise the bar for traditional breaded and fried mozzarella sticks.

Get the recipe from kitchen maven.

midwestern cheese curds

There’s nothing fishy about this Midwestern favorite combo — the dish gets a nutritional boost in this recipe thanks to roasting in the oven (at 425 for about 15 minutes) instead of frying, says Laura Martin, author of Hidden Vegetable Recipes Cookbook. Bonus points: Martin uses a gluten-free oat and almond flour coating instead of traditional flour, panko, or breadcrumbs. “I also add steamed and mashed cauliflower into the batter,” says Martin. “I dip the fish fillets and cheese (skim milk cheese cut into cubes) in oatmeal, then coat them in a mixture of equal parts egg and mashed cauliflower, then I dip them in coarse almond flour before roasting them on a well-greased baking sheet.”

Get the recipe from Hidden Vegetable Recipe Book.

kansas city bbq sauce

Using a sugar-free barbecue sauce (there are many store-bought options), cookbook author Laura Martin adds a mixture of pureed vegetables (tomato, squash, broccoli, beets…) to the meat and serves the dish like BBQ shredded/shredded that can easily hide vegetables in BBQ sauce – for kids who have an aversion to vegetables.

Get the recipe from Hidden Vegetable Recipe Book.

For more delicious recipe ideas, check out 27 Air Fryer Recipes That Make Fried Foods Healthier.

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