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Changing Your Recipes for Better Health

Changing Your Recipes for Better Health

Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Changing your favorite recipes is an easy way to help your health. You can make recipes more nutritious by cutting back on or swapping ingredients. The way you cook matters, too. Below are tips to help you lighten up your recipes to improve your health and weight.

Add good fiber

  • Substitute whole wheat flour, oatmeal, or cornmeal for part of highly refined bleached flour when baking. Whole wheat flour can be substituted for up to half of all-purpose flour.

  • Add grated, sliced, or diced vegetables to soups, stews, and stir-fries.

  • Leave the skin on apples when making applesauce and on potatoes when making fried potatoes.

Lower the salt

  • Use only half the amount of salt a recipe calls for.

  • Use low-sodium soy sauce and chicken broth in recipes.

  • Drain the liquid from and rinse canned beans and vegetables.

  • Use less salt in cooking water.

  • Season foods with herbs, spices, and lemon or lime juice instead of salt.

Make meat swaps

  • Use chicken or turkey breast cutlets in recipes that call for thinly sliced veal, beef, pork, or lamb. 

  • Use turkey thigh meat in stews, stroganoff, and other recipes that call for beef or lamb. 

  • Use lean ground turkey or chicken for ground beef. 

  • Use turkey products for their red meat versions: turkey pastrami, turkey sausage, turkey ham, and turkey bacon.

  • Cook white meat instead of dark-meat chicken. Swap chicken breasts for thighs.

  • Make tuna dishes with water-packed tuna instead of oil-packed tuna.

Use lighter dairy

  • Use skim milk or low-fat milk instead of whole milk.

  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of light cream. Instead of heavy cream, use evaporated skim milk mixed with nonfat powdered milk.

  • Instead of whole milk ricotta cheese, use dry-curd cottage cheese, 1% cottage cheese, or skim ricotta cheese.

  • Swap nonfat yogurt for whole milk yogurt. 

  • In place of cream cheese, use low-fat or fat-free cream cheese.

  • Instead of using high-fat cheeses, try fat-free or skim-milk cheeses. 

  • Swap nonfat frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet for ice cream. 

  • Use low- or no-fat sour cream instead of regular sour cream. Or, use Greek yogurt.

Cook lighter

  • Use nonstick cookware, baking pans, and casserole dishes to eliminate or reduce the need for cooking in fat or oil.

  • Make defatted stock for soups, sauces, and gravies. Refrigerate stock overnight, then skim the fat off the top.

  • Instead of sautéing meat and vegetables in oil, braise in poultry or vegetable stock.

  • Use no-cholesterol egg substitute or egg whites instead of whole eggs. Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg.

  • Substitute pureed fruit or applesauce for half the oil called for in baked goods.

  • Instead of deep-frying foods, bake or broil them on a nonstick cookie sheet.

  • Reduce the amount of fat used in baked products by a quarter to a third.

  • Substitute half the oil in a recipe with an equal amount of applesauce.

  • Substitute canola or olive oil for solid fats, such as shortening, lard, and butter. Use about a quarter less than the recipe calls for.

  • Use fewer egg yolks by substituting egg whites for 1 or more of the yolks. Or use fat- and cholesterol-free egg substitute.

  • Reduce sugar by a quarter to a third in baked goods and desserts. Add cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla to enhance the sense of sweetness.

  • Substitute nonfat butter sprinkles or powder for butter or margarine.

  • Replace regular salad dressing and bottled sauces with nonoil, fat-free versions.

  • Remove the skin from poultry. Trim all of the fat from beef, chicken, and pork.

Ready for change

If these ideas seem overwhelming, just try 1 or 2 to start. Keep in mind that even 1 healthy diet change can make a positive difference in your health.