Nutrition experts say simple changes can make fattening comfort food healthier without sacrificing taste, such as substituting turkey or chicken for ground beef in meat loaf and using whole-grain bread and reduced-fat cheese for grilled-cheese sandwiches. Registered dietitian Holley Grainger recommends using chicken broth, low-fat milk or Greek yogurt in mashed potatoes, or stirring in a mild soft cheese or adding garlic and herbs for extra flavor.
At CIA's Worlds of Flavor, attendees roamed the marketplace to sample cuisine from around the globe. Some chefs featured creations that were a mash-up of flavors from different regions -- such as a jerked pork mac and cheese egg roll served with tamarind sauce -- but traditional preparations prevailed as chefs gathered to show off the dishes for which their countries are known.
The Worlds of Flavor conference hosted by the CIA in Napa Valley brought attention to culinary mash-ups, dishes created with foods and cooking styles from a variety of ethnic groups. This style of cooking is believed to be the future of American dining as Americans look for affordable yet diverse meal options.
Some noted mash-ups from the conference include a burrito-meets-sushi option and macaroni and cheese backed in ramen stock.
A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that smaller portions may help people eat fewer calories. Researchers gave college students who were doing a computer task 20 pieces of candy, either whole or cut in half, and found that the students ate the same number of pieces either way but consumed fewer calories when the portions were halved.
Cooking shows, including reality-TV programs such as "Hell's Kitchen," create more informed consumers and do not necessarily add to the nation's obesity problem, says dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot, creator of the F-Factor Diet. Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University disagrees, saying that watching TV promotes a sedentary lifestyle and that the programs may increase hunger and snacking.