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 stove top. 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 whites for the same desired result, but with less cholesterol.
- Try replacing at least half the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat or a gluten free flour that you have experimented with in baking. Many recipes will work with a complete replacement, so experiment a little.
- 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.
Overall, it’s important to try things out. The more you rework recipes and learn from your successes and even the failures, the easier it becomes to modify recipes on the fly.