If you know me, you know that I make a lot of my meals at home. And here’s a secret: I modify recipes to match my food philosophy. Today, I’m going to talk about how I make my meals healthy, even when I work from a recipe. Here are 10 tips on how to cook healthier:
1. Double the veggies
When I cook a soup, stew, or anything that requires veggies, I try to double the number of veggies the recipe calls for. Why? It’s important to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies– and what easier way to do it than to add veggies to your main course? For example, if I make a turkey chili, I add more peppers, onions, corn, and sometimes I even add squash. Not only does this make the chili delicious, but it also makes it nice and chunky.
2. Try half the sugar
Depending on the item being cooked, sometimes I add no sugar. For example, the Joy of Cooking pancake recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar – I simply ignore that and add no sugar (and a replace white flour with whole wheat flour – see tip #8).
3. Use fruit instead of sugar
And, if you need something sweet, fruit can do the trick. For example, mixing no-sugar added applesauce, raisins, dates, or even pineapple to oatmeal sweetens up the bowl without the added sugar, and you get a bonus: more fiber!
4. Play around with protein.
Sometimes, I use half the meat and add beans or lentils. This adds many extra nutrients like fiber and folate.
5. Bake or grill instead of fry
Grilling and baking adds flavor and texture without the added fat.
6. Replace cream with lower fat milk
Cream has more saturated fat that you’d probably like. Try a lower fat dairy option instead – reduced fat (2%) or low fat (1%) milk will add that creaminess without the added saturated fat. You can always add a little bit of flour to thicken it up, as needed.
7. Enjoy homemade bone broth with fat skimmed off the top
I love using homemade broth because it has amazing flavor and nutrients. Adding homemade broth also means that you control the salt, sugar, fat, and seasonings.
8. Use whole grains when you can
Replacing refined flour with whole grain flour in many recipes adds texture and flavor. For example, I always use brown rice instead of white rice, and usually opt for whole grain pasta rather then refined pasta. Want to make it an easy transition? Go half-and-half. Cook both white and brown rice and mix the two – eventually, you can work your way to 100% replacement.
9. Add lots of herbs and spices to boost flavor without much salt.
I love fresh herbs and spices to bring interesting and enhanced flavor to a dish, without the added sodium that comes from salt. For me, too much salt covers up the natural flavors of my foods, while spices enhance them.
10. Replace butter with canola or olive oil
Butter has a lot of saturated fat – while canola or olive oil has more unsaturated fats. Opt for oils (that are liquid at room temperature) rather than butter to incorporate more healthy fats into your meals. You can even use cool tools like this oil mister to coat a pan when cooking.
How do you cook healthy?
Let us know in the comments!
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