Healthier Southern Recipes from The Help

If you love rich Southern food like creamy shrimp and grits, crispy fried chicken and rich, silky pies then you probably left the movie theater hungry after watching The Help, the film based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel.

“About 20 minutes into the movie, you’re craving fried chicken,” director Tate Taylor told Food & Wine.

The Help, which stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer analyzes the relationship between African-American maids and their white employers in 1960s Mississippi.

“Since the story crosses race and class lines, the cooking does too,” reported Food & Wine. “There are scenes of ladies’ luncheons with tomato aspic and cocktail meatballs and scenes calling for soul food like collard greens and fried chicken.”

If The Help left you yearning for black-eyed peas and fried green tomatoes, make some of your favorite Southern classics with fewer fat and calories.

Deviled Eggs: Serve a platter of delicious deviled eggs at your next gathering and channel the “ladies who lunch” from 1960’s Mississippi. You can’t resist deviled eggs at a picnic or potluck event – and now you don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying them.

Braised Collard Greens with Red Wine: Even though our favorite cooks in The Help cooked everything they could get their hands on in Crisco, you can make healthy collard greens with your next meal – Southern or otherwise.

Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes: The end-of-summer tomato season is the perfect time a year to serve your friends or family ripe, juicy tomatoes. Instead of deep frying in bad-for-you fat, look to these oven fried green tomatoes from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for a savory treat.

Caramel Apple Dip: Caramel cake is a Southern main stay, but if you’re looking to slim down before the end of the summer, channel the South with a caramel dip full of flavor. Serve with your favorite fresh fruit for dipping.

Hot & Spicy Cocktail Meatballs: Perfect as a pre-party appetizer, we love these cocktail meatballs from Betty Crocker. Great for portion control, you can slim this recipe down even further by using low-sugar jelly and lean ground sirloin.

Pineapple Salad Dressing: Instead of coating your Southern style ambrosia salad recipe in a creamy, mayo-based dressing, opt for a lighter, fruitier version that will put any on-screen salad to shame.

Southern-Style Oven Fried Chicken: Instead of fried chicken that has been coated in oil, butter or other figure-unfriendly substances, opt to make your next batch of fried chicken in the oven. No one can resist this healthy version, coated in cornflake crumbs for a robust crunch.

Quick and Healthy Black Eyed Peas: Now that you’ve seen them on-screen, you won’t want to wait until New Year’s Day to celebrate your good fortune with black eyed peas. Make this quick, healthy version on Sunday and have dinner for the whole week.

Vegan Chocolate Pie: Recreate the infamous recipe with a vegan version sure to please a crowd. If you’re looking for something a little more indulgent but still diet-friendly, try a Southern Chocolate Brownie Pie from Ingredient Inc. recipe developer Alison Lewis.

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