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Make Restaurant Faves at Home, and Healthier

You can make dishes you love when you eat out - in - at home, that is - and make them much healthier and relatively simply.

As "The Early Show" continued its weeklong "Lose It Early" series on Wednesday, registered dietician Cynthia Sass showed the way.

Popular restaurant chains like Applebee's, Outback, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday's have delicious food that people crave, but it's not always the healthiest. Sass demonstrated how to make over some of these restaurant meals into dishes that are just as delicious, but not even close to the high calorie count - and cost you less.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!

The dishes:

• Applebee's Crunchy Onion Rings
• Olive Garden's Eggplant Parmesan
• Outback's Rib Eye Steak
• Ruby Tuesday's Cheesecake

Applebee's Crunchy Onion Rings -- 1,310 calories

A fried dish like absorbs about 5 tablespoons of grease!

You could eat 7 servings of this revised dish for the same number of calories. The trick to getting the crunchy texture without clogging your arteries is using your oven instead of your deep fryer. Just whip the egg whites, give the onions a bath, and coat with a mixture bread crumbs thyme, paprika and pepper. Then bake at 400F for about 20 min or until golden brown.

RECIPE: Baked Onion Rings

1 pound sweet onions
3 egg whites
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut onions into 1/2-inch slices; separate into rings and place in a bowl. Cover with ice water; soak for 30 minutes. Drain.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, thyme, salt, paprika and pepper. Divide the crumb mixture among three large resealable plastic bags. Dip a third of the onions in the egg whites; add a few rings at a time to crumb mixture and shake to coat. Place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Repeat with remaining onions and crumb mixture. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.

One serving equals 169 calories, 2 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 865 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 8 g protein.

Olive Garden's Eggplant Parmesan -- 850 calories

This dish is a double whammy - it's not only fried, it's covered with both mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Once again you could eat 7 servings of this revised dish for the same number of calories. You'll still get your cheese fix. All you need to do is pare it down to Parmesan and add the creaminess by using light mayo, which is just made from eggs, oil and vinegar. Combine the mayo with scallions, spread it on both sides of the eggplant slices, coat in a mixture of bread crumbs and Italian seasoning, sprinkle with Parmesan, bake about 12 minutes on each side and serve with marinara.

RECIPE: Oven Fried Eggplant with Parmesan

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon scallions, minced
1 pound eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine mayonnaise and scallion in a bowl. Spread over both sides of eggplant slices. Combine next 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge eggplant slices in breadcrumb mixture. Arrange eggplant slices on a baking sheet that has been coated with vegetable spray. Bake 12 minutes. Turn eggplant slices and bake another 12 minutes or until golden.

Per serving: calories 114, fat 2.5g, 20% calories from fat, cholesterol 5mg, protein 4.9g, carbohydrates 17.9g, fiber 3.2g, sugar 5.4g, sodium 404mg, diet points 2.4.

Outback's Rib Eye Steak -- 14 ounce rib eye -- 1193 calories

This steak is enough for about 5 people. It packs 99 grams of fat, about half of which are the artery clogging saturated kind.

You could have 5 servings of this dish for the same number of calories. If you can't live without red meat downsize your serving and switch to flank steak. It's one of the leanest cuts of beef because it comes from the abdominal muscle, which gets more of a work out. To make it tender and juicy marinate it for about 45 minutes in a mixture of oil, citrus juice and seasonings, like garlic and fresh ginger then broil it.

RECIPE: Ginger Flank Steak

1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 pound flank steak

Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow baking dish and mix thoroughly. Add flank steak. Turn to coat and marinate 45 minutes. Turn on broiler. Place steaks on broiler pan and broil 4-5 minutes, basting with marinade halfway through. Turn and baste with marinade. Broil another 3-4 minutes for medium rare, basting after 1-2 minutes. Cut steak diagonally against the grain into thin slices before serving.

Per serving: calories 225, fat 13.2g, 54% calories from fat, cholesterol 57mg, protein 23.6g, carbohydrates 1.6g, fiber 0.3g, sugar 0.5g, sodium 376mg, diet points 6.0.

Ruby Tuesday's Cheesecake -- 736 calories

This single slice packs the same amount of dairy fat as a half gallon of whole milk!

You could have 3 slices of this version for the same number of calories. When you do it yourself use nonfat cream cheese. I'm generally not a fan of reduced fat foods except in the case of dairy. Fat free dairy products retain their protein and nutrients - the unhealthy fat is simply skimmed off the top. This slice is sweetened with sugar but it also provides a generous 12 g of protein, which will help you feel satisfied without the fat!

RECIPE: Lower Fat Cheesecake

1-1/2 pounds fat-free cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 9 inch graham pie crust
1 pound cherry light pie filling

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix first 3 ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and mix until blended. Pour cream cheese mixture into pie crust. Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Top with cherry pie filling before serving.

Per serving: calories 255, fat 6.4g, 23% calories from fat, cholesterol 52mg, protein 12.6g, carbohydrates 35.0g, fiber 0.5g, sugar 28.2g, sodium 405mg, diet points 6.0.