One doesn’t have to give up favorite recipes to maintain a healthy diet. Making a few simple changes can make most recipes more healthful without sacrificing taste. It begins with preparing a recipe in a different way or by substituting ingredients.
Recipes can be altered to reduce or eliminate fat, salt, and unwanted calories in the form of sugar. Recipes can also be altered to increase nutrition or fiber. When modifying a recipe, it is best to make one modification at a time, reducing, substituting, or increasing an ingredient by a small amount at first.
Baked goods require careful adjustments as each ingredient has an important role in the outcome of the product.
– Fat provides flavor, richness, and texture.
– Eggs provide structure, act as a binding agent, and add volume.
– Sugar provides flavor, increases tenderness, and acts as a preservative.
– Salt provides flavor.
Below are suggestions for reducing fat, calories, sugar, and salt and/or increasing fiber in your recipes without changing texture, flavor, purpose or structure. Be sure to keep a record of the changes that produce the best tasting and satisfactory product.
|If your recipe calls for||Make the following adjustments or replace with|
|Condiments and toppings||Omit or use fresh cucumbers vs pickles, cherry tomatoes vs olives, non-fat or reduced fat spreads, mashed fresh berries, thin slices of fresh apples, peaches or pears.|
|Canned fruit packed in syrup||Fresh fruit or canned fruit packed in water|
|Chicken stock or broths||Vegetable stock/broth or refrigerated broth with fat skimmed off|
|Sour cream||Low-fat yogurt or blended low-fat cottage cheese|
|1 egg||2 egg whites|
|Cream||Whipped non-fat dry milk or skim evaporated milk|
|Sautéing in butter or oil||Non-stick spray, chicken or beef broth|
|Cream cheese||Neufchatel cheese or light cream cheese|
|Gravy||1 Tbsp cornstarch or 2 Tbsp flour added to 1 cup fat-free broth|
|Whole milk||Skim or 1% milk|
|Ice cream||Low-fat or non-fat yogurt|
|All-purpose flour||½ whole wheat flour and ½ all-purpose flour|
|Ground beef||Lean ground turkey or chicken|
|Ricotta cheese||Non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese|
|Cheese||Low-fat or non-fat cheese or use only half|
|Pasta||Whole wheat pasta|
|If your baking recipe calls for||Make the following adjustments|
|Sugars – Brown, Corn Syrup, Honey, Molasses||Use up to one third less sugar in recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads, and pie fillings. Add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla or almond extract to boost sweetness.|
|Fat – Shortening, Butter, Lard, Oil||Replace solid fat with vegetable oil using 1/4 cup less. Or, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with an equal amount of applesauce, mashed bananas, pureed prunes or commercially prepared fruit-based fat replacers.|
|Salt||Reduce the amount by ½ (except in yeast breads), use spices or herbs or light salt.|
Other options to add fiber include adding whole oats or chopped dried/fresh fruit to cookies, muffins, waffles, and pancakes and beans to soups, casseroles, and salads. Using fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits whenever possible not only increases fiber, but also ups nutrition.
Cooking methods such as baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, roasting, or stir-frying whenever possible are the best choices for reducing fat intake. Along with fat reduction, the high heat associated with frying changes the chemical structure of the fat making it difficult for your body to break down which can negatively affect health.
Remember, make small modifications at a time. Be creative and, most importantly, have fun! Enjoy the challenge!