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The Lake News Online
Health, food and wellness from MU Extension Specialist Melissa Bess
Healthier recipes
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About this blog
By Melissa Bess
My name is Melissa Bess. I am a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist with University of Missouri Extension. This health and wellness blog started as a way to help improve MU Extension faculty and staff wellness but has grown to a much larger ...
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MU Extension Health and Wellness
My name is Melissa Bess. I am a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist with University of Missouri Extension. This health and wellness blog started as a way to help improve MU Extension faculty and staff wellness but has grown to a much larger audience. Follow me, share with others, bookmark this page, leave comments, and enjoy.
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There are simple ways for all of us to make our favorite recipes healthier. Here are some tips on how you can cut the fat, cut the sugar, add more fiber, or cut the salt. For more tips, you can view the MU Extension handout "Make a Change for Your Health."

Cut the fat

  • Use unsweetened applesauce or pureed fruit to replace between half and all of the oil in baking recipes. This works best in muffins, brownies, etc. You may need to start with half and experiment to find the best mixture.
  • Use 1% or skim milk instead of whole milk in recipes.
  • Use reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese or sour cream in recipes.
  • Use liquid oils (canola, olive, vegetable) instead of butter, lard, or shortening. 
  • When reading labels, divide the grams of fat by 4 to figure out how many teaspoons of fat. This will help you visualize how much fat you are eating. 
Cut the sugar

  • You can eliminate up to 1/3 of the sugar in a recipe, but you may need to add more liquid. This is another one you will have to experiment with to find out the best combination.
  • If you use artificial sweetener, try that in recipes instead of some or all of the sugar. Combining two different artificial sweeteners will make a sweeter end product. 
  • You can get used to less sugar in recipe, it just takes time to adjust to it. 
  • When reading labels, divide the grams of sugar by 4 to figure out the amount of sugar in teaspoons. This will help you visualize how many spoons of sugar are in some of the things you eat. 
Add more fiber

  • Substitute up to half of the amount of all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. If you replace more than half, the end product will be quite different and not as tasty.
  • Add extra fruits and vegetables (with the peel for more fiber, if possible) to sauces, soups, breads, casseroles, muffins, or other recipes. 
  • If 100% whole grain pasta or brown rice is too big of a change for your family, mix half of the 100% whole grain with what you are using now. 
  • Add oats to muffins, breads, or other desserts for a little extra fiber.
  • Read the food labels to see how much fiber is in the foods you are eating. We should aim for 25-35 grams of fiber per day. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are the best sources.
Cut the salt

  • In general, salt can be decreased or eliminated in most recipes. 
  • Use herbs instead of salt to season foods.
  • Make your own broth or use low-sodium broths for flavoring in soups and for cooking whole grains. 
  • Buy low or no sodium frozen or canned vegetables. Rinse canned vegetables and beans to eliminate some of the sodium.
  •  Read labels to find out how much sodium is in the foods you eat. If the %Daily Value listed next to the sodium amount is 20% or above, that food is high in sodium. Look for foods with the %Daily Value closer to 5%. 
  • The highest sources of sodium in our diets include: breads and rolls, processed and cured meats, packaged foods, pizza, soup, fast food and restaurant foods, sandwiches, and fresh/processed poultry. 
The MU Extension handout, Make a Change for Your Health, also has some additional tips. 

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