We all know cooking at home is a healthier choice over choosing the drive-thru or dining out. However, it’s important to remember that recipes are created simply for their texture and flavor, but don’t always take health into consideration. To make it easier for you to cook more healthfully, here are a few tips that you can use on a variety of recipes.
- For many recipes it’s easy to simply reduce the amount of fat or oil used to make cooking easier. Non-stick cookware means you need little or no fat when cooking on the stovetop. Greasing baking dishes is often unnecessary as well, but you may have to experiment a little.
- For fats and oils used for baking cakes and muffins, you can often substitute them with apple puree. For cookies, aim to replace about ½ the oil with puree. You can even aim for a more healthful impact by using highly nutritious sweet potato puree as a fat and oil substitute.
- If a recipe calls for saturated fats like butter or even lard, replace it with vegetable or olive oil. Of course, this won’t always work in recipes that call for creaming of butter. In those cases, you might try margarine or simply reduce the amount of butter.
- In baking, you can usually replace 1 egg with 2 egg yolks for the same desired result, but with less cholesterol.
- Try replacing at least half the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat. Many recipes will work with a complete replacement, so experiment a little. Your health is at stake.
- Many sweet recipes are sweeter than they need to be. Don’t be shy about reducing the sugars. Definitely do this where sweeteners are often added after cooking. For example, there is no reason pancake or waffle batter needs a lot of sugar when syrup, fruit and other sweet items are added afterwards.
- To salt or not to salt? In savory foods, salt is usually not necessary. For baked goods, while many may say otherwise, it’s not always necessary either. One exception is baked goods using yeast. Salt slows down the rising process and produces better texture, so it is likely necessary, but you can try reducing the amount of salt used.
- Try lower fat dairy products in your recipes. Instead of heavy cream, use half and half. Instead of whole or 2% milk, try skim. The same goes for sour cream, yogurt and cheeses. Just make sure to read the label for quality ingredients as lower quality products tend to add undesirable ingredients and chemicals to make their low fat varieties more palatable.
Healthy Food Swaps
Choosing healthier foods is easier than you may think. There are some simple everyday changes you can make to get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle without losing all the things you love.
It’s all about eating fewer foods that are high in calories, fat, salt and sugars and swapping them for something healthier, including more fruit and vegetables and wholegrains.
Healthy eating and getting active can help you lose centimetres from around your waist and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
You don’t have to stop it, just swap it. For example, swap a big meal for a small meal. You can make these swaps as you go about your everyday life at work, at home or even while out shopping. It’s easy and these basic changes can add up to make a big overall difference to your diet.
Try these small changes when you have your next meal or drink, or when you open the cupboard or fridge for a snack.
Once you’ve got started, try thinking of your own healthier swaps, too. Food labels can help you to choose healthier options.
- Swap from whole milk to light or skim milk.
- Swap a sugar-coated breakfast cereal for a wholegrain breakfast cereal such as porridge or shredded wholegrain wheat cereal, with no added sugar.
- Swap a sprinkle of sugar on your breakfast cereal for a topping of fresh or dried fruit.
- Swap full-fat Greek yoghurt for fat-free Greek-style yoghurt or natural low-fat yoghurt.
- Swap white breads, bagels and muffins for wholegrain varieties.
- Swap butter and cheese in your jacket potato for reduced fat spread and reduced salt and sugar baked beans.
- Swap a tuna melt for a tuna salad sandwich on wholemeal bread, without mayo.
- Swap a cheddar cheese filling in your sandwich for reduced-fat cheese.
- Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato- or vegetable-based sauces on your pasta, meat or fish dishes.
- Swap mashed potato made with butter and whole milk for mash with low-fat spread and a lower-fat milk such as light or skim milk.
- Choose leaner cuts of meat, for example, steak rather than sausages.
- Swap the frying pan for the grill when cooking meat.
- Swap your usual coffee made with whole milk to a ‘skinny’ coffee made with skim milk.
- Swap a few of your sugary drinks for a glass of water.
- Swap hot chocolate made with whole milk and served with whipped cream for a hot chocolate made with skimmed milk and no cream.
- Swap an iced coffee for a small fruit frappe.
- Swap yoghurt-coated raisins for plain raisins.
- Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts.
- Swap chips for rice cakes with lower fat cream cheese.