TASTY TIPS FOR HEALTHIER COOKING
If you’ve already attended my Foundational Nutrition class in Louisville, then you’ve heard me talk about the importance of upping your color quotient by increasing fruit and vegetable intake while decreasing intake of processed, convenience foods. If you haven’t attended my class yet, register here. If you’re struggling to master the art of healthier cooking at home, that’s okay! As the Performance Dietitian at Wel at Humana, I can help!
Start fresh and be optimistic!
Do your research to find some fresh, new-to-you recipes to launch you into your healthy eating expedition. Keep in mind that “healthier” or “nutritious” doesn’t mean less delicious so keep an open mind to experiencing new foods and new flavors. Enjoy the process as you experiment with fresh ingredients that don’t rely on excess fat or salt for added taste.
All about the herbs and spices…
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a majority of adults in the US consume an average of more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we should consume less than 2,300 mg per day. The CDC also reports that men’s and women’s average fat intake comprise 33.6 percent and 33.7 percent (respectively) of their total daily calorie intake. If you cut back on salt and fat in recipes and use herbs and spices to crank up the flavor in dishes, you can get the delicious taste you desire.
For example, try using 95 percent lean meat instead of 80 percent lean meat then use a heavier hand with basil, oregano, garlic and other spices hiding in your spice cabinet. In desserts, you can achieve the same effects by cutting back on sugar and adding a spice that can enhance the sweetness of the dish or one that adds an extra depth of flavor. In an apple pie, you can cut the called for amount of sugar by a third then add extra cinnamon, cardamom or cloves. Try building your herb and spice collection with new varieties of seasonings, spices, or spice blends like Szechuan peppercorns, Garam or Tikka Masala, Herbs de Provence, Harissa, Adobo or Jerk Spice.
Swapping Out Ingredients
Here are some basic ingredients with their healthier alternatives:
- Heavy cream or half-and-half = fat free half-and-half
- 1 egg = 2 egg whites
- Syrup = pureed fruit
- Flour = black bean puree
- Bread crumbs = ground flaxseeds, rolled oats
- Sugar = unsweetened applesauce
- Butter = pureed avocado, prunes, mashed bananas or water-soaked chia seeds
- White rice = riced cauliflower, pearl barley or bulgur wheat
LEARN HOW TO COOK HEALTHY
If you already know some basic cooking techniques, then you can adapt them to prepare foods in healthier ways. You don’t have to add a lot of unnecessary ingredients to make food extra juicy and flavorful. If you usually grill or sear meats, try broiling, roasting or slow cooking them instead. Char or toast foods to intensify their flavor without adding any extra calories or sodium. Check out this article by Cooking Light for some additional tips on healthier cooking.
Buy the Right Tools
- Nonstick pan
- Steamer basket
- Kitchen shears
- Citrus juicer, zester
- Reusable (BPA-free) food storage containers and utensils
- Food processer or high-powered blender
- Herb savers
- Instant-read meat thermometer
- Grill pan
- Chef’s knife, paring knife
- Vegetable spiralizer
- Salad dressing shaker, oil mister
- Kitchen scale
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Multi-function, programmable slow cooker, pressure cooker and steamer