The good news is that most of the recipes you have used for years can be modified to be healthier without affecting the taste or texture of the food. You just need to know when and how to reduce, replace, remove, resize or rethink the recipe.
If you or someone in your household has been instructed to make diet changes for health reasons, you might not know where to start.
It can feel overwhelming to change the way you have cooked all of your life. Holiday recipes can be especially high in calories, fat, salt and sugar. The good news is that most of the recipes you have used for years can be modified to be healthier without affecting the taste or texture of the food. You just need to know when and how to reduce, replace, remove, resize or rethink the recipe.
Reduce. In most recipes, you can reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt without loss of flavor. By cutting back on fat and sugar, you also will cut calories. The following tips are a good place to start.
For baked goods, use half of the butter or oil called for and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, pureed bananas, pureed prunes, canned pumpkin or mashed avocado, depending on the color and flavor desired.
You often can reduce sugar by one-third or one-half without altering the product. Add sweet spices, such as vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg or citrus zest to amplify the sweetness.
In baked goods not requiring yeast, try halving the salt. In most other foods, including main dishes, soups and side dishes, you can halve the salt or even eliminate the salt completely.
Look for other ways to reduce calories. Use half the shredded cheese to cut fat and calories or less soy sauce to reduce sodium.
Replace. Check the recipe for high-fat ingredients that can be replaced with lower-fat versions. For example:
Substitute low-fat dairy products for the full-fat versions.
Use reduced-fat and reduced-sodium canned soups in casseroles, or make your own low-fat white sauce.
Use Canadian bacon or smoked turkey for flavoring instead of bacon.
Use nonfat Greek yogurt to replace sour cream or mayonnaise.
Top a cake with meringue instead of buttercream frosting.
Instead of a top crust on your pie, use a streusel topping.
Substitute spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for pasta.
Use finely chopped cauliflower instead of rice in a side dish.
Whip cold evaporated skim milk as a replacement for whipped cream.
Remove. Eliminate optional ingredients that add excess calories or fat. Leave the cake unfrosted. Trim any visible fat from meat before cooking. Making gravy? Don’t forget to skim the fat from meat juices first.
Rethink. Can you bake, grill or broil the food instead of frying it? Instead of basting meat with oil or butter, use wine, fruit juice or low- sodium broth and get just as good results. Use pan spray in a nonstick pan, and you can forgo the added oil when sautéing. If you are an eggnog fan, try filling your glass half- to three-quarters-full with low-fat milk and fill the rest of the way with eggnog. You’ll still get the flavor without the calories.
Resize. Remember that a serving of meat should be just three to four ounces per person; preparing more just means eating more. In a casserole, allow one to two ounces of meat per person. Rich desserts can be cut into smaller pieces; it’s the first bite that tastes the best.
Small changes at every meal can add up to a healthier life and slimmer waist.