Easy Recipe Makeovers for Healthier Eating

by Michelle on August 22, 2018

Eating healthy isn’t always easy…but it is possible.  But what do you do with those favorite recipes that you love so much which aren’t exactly healthy?  Here are hopefully some suggestions and substitutions that can lighten up meals while still keeping the flavor you love:

  1. Reduce the amount of…

FAT – For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana or prune puree. You can also use commercially prepared fruit-based fat substitutes found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

SUGAR – Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. Instead, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond flavoring to boost sweetness.

SALT – For most main dishes, salads, soups and other foods, you can reduce the salt by half or even eliminate it. You can reduce salt by half in baked goods that don’t require yeast too. For foods that require yeast, you may need to experiment: Some salt may be necessary for leavening to keep baked goods from being too dense or flat.

  1. Make healthy substitutions: Healthy substitutions not only reduce the amount of fat, calories and salt in your recipes but also can boost the nutritional content.

Pasta – Use whole-wheat pasta instead of enriched pasta. You’ll triple the fiber and reduce the number of calories.

Milk – Prepare a dessert with fat-free milk instead of whole milk to save 66 calories and almost 8 grams of fat per cup.

Meat – When making casseroles, scale back on meat, poultry or fish and increase the amount of vegetables. You’ll save on calories and fat while gaining more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

  1. Cut back on some ingredients: In some recipes, you can eliminate an ingredient altogether or scale back the amount you use.

Toppings – Eliminate items you generally add out of habit or for appearance, such as frosting, coconut or whipped-cream toppings, which are all high in fat and calories.

Condiments – Cut condiments, such as pickles, olives, butter, mayonnaise, syrup, jelly and mustard, which can contain a lot of salt, sugar, fat and calories. Use low-sodium soy sauce in a smaller amount than a recipe calls for to decrease the amount of sodium.

Cheese – If a recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, use 1/2 cup instead.

  1. Change cooking and prep techniques: Here are several healthy cooking techniques that can capture the flavor and nutrients of a well-loved recipe without adding excessive amounts of fat, oil or salt. Try these preparation techniques for healthy recipes.

Cooking method – Healthy cooking techniques include braising, broiling, grilling, poaching, sautéing and steaming.

Basting liquid – If the directions say to baste the meat or vegetables in oil or drippings, use a small amount of wine, fruit juice, vegetable juice or fat-free vegetable broth instead.

Nonstick cookware – Using nonstick pans or spraying pans with nonstick spray will further reduce the amount of fat and calories added to your meals.

  1. Slow down when eating & downsize portions: No matter how much you reduce, switch or omit ingredients, some recipes may still be high in sugar, fat or salt. You can help your diet by not rushing through meals and cutting back on the portion size too.

Slow down – Eat your meals more slowly to give your body a chance to register the fact that you’re filling up. Put your fork down between bites if necessary. You’ll eat less in the long run.

Check portion sizes – Many portions today are so large you may not realize what a true portion or serving is. Train yourself by using smaller plates, spoons and cups. And learn to use common visual cues to understand servings — one serving of whole-grain cooked pasta is about the same size as a hockey puck, for instance.

Try some of these recipe “tweaks” and see how you like them.  It’s a really easy way to turn a delicious but not-so-healthy dish into something that still tastes great but is better for you!

Happy Eating!






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