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It is certainly possible to make healthier versions of favorite recipes that still leave the flavor intact. The idea should be to make a few healthy changes that aren't likely to radically affect the outcome of the old favorite. For example, when making a lower fat version of macaroni and cheese usually made with only full fat cheddar, use that cheese but try replacing two thirds of it with lower fat cheeses such as part-skim mozzarella and reduced fat Swiss. A dash of freshly ground pepper may also help improve the flavor. Some experimentation in adjusting the recipes is needed, but reducing one or more of the fat, sugar, salt and calories in classic dishes can result in much healthier versions of favorite recipes.
Reducing non-nutritious or empty calories is one of the easiest ways to create healthier versions of favorite recipes. By substituting whole wheat lasagna noodles for regular ones, you can improve the nutrition of the dish by providing fiber and nutrients not found in noodles made with refined white or enriched flour. Of course, eating smaller portion sizes of a favorite dish is a great way to leave a favorite recipe as is and still enjoy it without consuming an excess of less nutritious foods. A large serving of low calorie vegetables along with the smaller portion of your favorite dish can help make it more satisfying as well as more nutritious.
Eating too much salt is often linked to high blood pressure. Either eat much smaller portions of salty favorites, or try switching the salt shaker for the pepper mill. Freshly ground pepper can add interest and flavor to many foods. Substituting herbs for some of the salt in dishes is another way to make healthier versions of favorite recipes. Some recipes may not even need any salt to taste great!
Some homemade tomato-based pasta sauces may call for sugar to be added. If the amount of sugar you use is high, some or all of it could be replaced with herbs. Applesauce is another food that can be delicious without sugar. Unsweetened applesauce with a few toasted pecans or walnuts on top can make a great nutritious snack or even a light dessert. Plus, applesauce and/or fruit juice can be substituted for some or even all of the sugar in many home-baked goods such as cookies, muffins and cakes.
Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, milk and sour cream can often be used in lower fat varieties to help create healthier versions of favorite recipes. Fish and chicken can be baked in the oven with coatings made from whole wheat breadcrumbs as an alternative to coating with batter and frying. Substituting ground turkey for the ground beef in favorite recipes is another way to cut saturated fat. Using a drizzle of olive oil rather than butter also cuts saturated fat. Some people prefer using non-stick frying pans to adding any fat to the pan.
These are really good tips!
My favorite healthy alternative recipe is mashed veggies instead of mashed potatoes. I mash boiled cauliflower, carrots, potato, pumpkin and broccoli together. You can adjust the amounts of these different vegetables depending on how your kids like them. It's a great way to get some extra veggies in their diet.
Something else I do to make a healthier, less fatty, less sugary cake is to use flavored milk, fruit yogurt or pudding instead of frosting. I actually buy pre-baked cake layers sometimes when I'm short on time. I use strawberry milk or chocolate milk to moisten the cakes and then put pudding or fruit yogurt between the layers and on top as frosting. Finally decorate with fruits. It is so tasty and the kids don't have to have all that excess sugar.
For baking, I like to replace the butter in recipes with applesauce or nonfat yogurt. You can also make puree with fruits you have at home and use that instead of butter.
We also like to have butter and bread for breakfast and at mealtimes in my home. We have been trying hummus as a spread on bread instead of butter. My son doesn't like hummus so I make an avocado spread for him, simply by crushing avocados.
I know they have butter flavored vegetable spreads and margarine but I don't think these are healthy because they are not natural and have a lot of additives. Fruit purees, yogurt, hummus and avocado spread are excellent substitutes for butter because they are natural and low fat.
Rice is a huge part of my diet, I used to have it regularly but white rice is processed and has no fiber. I have found some great alternatives to white rice. I have tried cracked wheat, barley, couscous and oats in place of it. It doesn't taste quite the same and can be an adjustment in the beginning. But you get used to it and enjoy the food just as before. The fiber and nutrients in these alternatives also make me fuller faster and I don't overeat.
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