The key to eating healthy is cooking healthy. The only way to be sure that what you’re eating is healthy is to prepare it yourself. While there are recipes out there that are already tailored to a healthier style of eating, you might have a family favorite recipe that you don’t want to give up that just needs a little doctoring to make it a healthy option. Below are some of the most common unhealthy recipe ingredients and our more healthy substitutions.
Sour Cream – instead of sour cream which is high in calories, fat, and sodium, substitute a plain low-fat yogurt and get double the protein while cutting sodium in half and reducing calories and fat at significantly higher rates.
Heavy Cream – a great substitute for heavy cream is fat free evaporated milk. This is due to their similar flavor and cooking properties. The specific texture and flavor is matched while the fat content is erased, the calories are diminished, and the protein is pumped up when you substitute fat free evaporated milk for heavy cream.
Whole Eggs – replace one whole egg in any recipe with two egg whites to make it a healthier option. (For 2 whole eggs use 3 egg whites.) This will increase your protein intake and eliminate the fat and cholesterol you would have ingested from the egg yolk.
Butter/Oil – although it won’t always be realistic to substitute applesauce and other fruit purees for butters and oils it is a viable option in some cases. There are 201 calories and 161 mg of sodium in a single ounce of salted butter while there are only 21 calories and 8 mg of sodium in an ounce of sweetened applesauce. The numbers speak for themselves.
** Nutritional Information of oil will depend on oil type.
Whole Milk – whether you’re cooking with it or just drinking it, there are a lot of unnecessary calories you’re consuming when you choose whole milk over skim milk. While you don’t lose any protein when switching from whole to skim milk you will lose about 60 calories and roughly 20 mg of cholesterol. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.
Cheese – much like milk, I’m not suggesting you avoid cheese, I’m just suggesting you change the type of cheese you use in your recipes. Switch to a sharp cheese option and you can get away with using less cheese in the dish while actually adding more flavor. This will lessen the amount of calories and fat in the dish, since you’re using less cheese.
**Nutritional Information will depend on the types of cheeses chosen.
Processed White Grains – this should be a no brainer, but many people are still getting this one wrong. Anytime a recipe calls for any grain be sure that what you’re reaching for to fulfill it isn’t a processed white grain but rather a whole grain option. They provide the same amount of protein but with more flavor and less calories than their processed counterparts.
Mayonnaise – does anyone even still use this stuff? I’m not sure why anyone would still use mayonnaise in anything. It’s full of sodium, cholesterol, fat and calories that are easily avoidable by swapping it for the healthier (and tastier) options of mashed avocados or whole milk yogurt.
Store Bought Dressings – while some of the store bought options are certainly better for you than others, there is an option that is superior to the rest, and that is a homemade vinaigrette. They are guaranteed to be lower in calories, fats, sodium, and cholesterol than any store bought version. They also provide unique flavor options as you’ll choose the additives to include. From salt and pepper to honey and fresh herbs, the choices are abundant so you’ll never become bored.
**Nutritional Information depends on your choice of store bought dressings and the additives of your homemade vinaigrette.
Heavy Cream (in soups) – we’ve discussed heavy cream already but what about adding thickness and creaminess to your homemade soups? You may not want to add evaporated milk here, but you can add refrigerated or frozen potatoes that have been pureed. They’ll create the desired consistency without the calories and fat you’d get with heavy cream.
Sugar (in sauces) – rather than adding sugar to your sauces try pureeing a carrot and adding that to the mixture. The natural sweetening properties of the carrot will end up adding a sweet flavoring without the calories that sugar would.
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