Creamed vegetable dishes are delicious, comforting classics. But it can be a bit troubling to take nature's healthiest foods and essentially nestle them in a pool of fat.

Many recipes for creamed corn or spinach call for using a traditional white sauce made from whole milk thickened with a butter and flour roux. Others are primarily reduced heavy cream and sour cream, which don't have a stellar nutritional profile, either.

Yet creamy lower-fat vegetable dishes can be every bit as tasty and satisfying as their full-fat cousins.

One way to go is to make a low-fat white sauce by heating cup of skim or low-fat milk until steaming. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with cup of cold milk. Stir the flour mixture into the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thick, 2 to 3 minutes.

Once thickened, add cup of any extra-sharp sharp cheese (use full fat, because with its superior flavor even a little will go a long way) and a bit of Dijon mustard to make a cheesy sauce, or add herbs and spices, such as snipped chives and a pinch of nutmeg, to make a more traditional white sauce. Mix the sauce with any cooked vegetables you like.

You also can thicken a cup of skim or low-fat milk by stirring in 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch as it heats, then seasoning in the same way as when thickened with flour.

This recipe for smoky creamed corn with green chilies uses some cornstarch as a thickener, but also gets much of its velvety texture by puréeing two-thirds of the corn in a blender. A mere teaspoon of butter goes a long way in adding a familiar richness to the complex blend of sweet and spicy flavors.

Look for smoked paprika in the spice section of most grocers or in a pinch, just use plain paprika instead.

Smoky Creamed Corn with Green Chilies

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

1 teaspoon butter or canola oil

4-ounce can diced green chilies

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

3 cups fresh corn kernels, divided (about 7 cobs)

1 cups skim milk

1 tablespoon cornstarch

teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan over medium, heat the oil. Add the chilies and paprika and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a blender, place 2 cups of the corn, the milk, cornstarch and salt. Blend until smooth. Transfer the purée to the saucepan with the chilies and add the remaining 1 cup of corn. Cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until the mixture simmers and thickens and the corn is tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 163 calories; 19 calories from fat; 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 1 g fiber; 216 mg sodium.