Fifteen Ways to Lighten Your Recipes

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 You can enjoy your favorite foods by lightening the ingredients.  

Cooking pasta

Cooking Pasta.  

Making healthy choices is the first step to eating right and losing weight.  Cooking in a healthier way is another huge part of meeting this goal because if you cook the Paula Dean way with a pound of butter, nothing is healthy.  What we add to food in the cooking process is as important as choosing the food to cook.   

This article is a simple list of fifteen suggestions to alter your favorite recipes to make them more healthy without losing the tastes you love.  

  1. Use a healthier sauté. A couple of tablespoons of low-sodium beef, chicken, or vegetable broth can be used instead of oil or butter in your stir fry or as the basis for a sauce. This method will add a nice flavor to your dish as well as a little moisture.   
  2. Replace ground beef with ground lean chicken or turkey.  The keyword is “lean.”  Go with 96% lean if you can find it.  It will cut half the calories because it is lower in fat.  Cooked lean ground chicken or turkey yields more meat than regular ground meat when cooked.  You could just use 96% lean hamburger if you can find it.  
  3. Make your own marinade.  If you make your own marinade, you can reduce the oil and use more vinegar-based ingredients.  I often use a mixture of vinegar, citrus, and spices.  If you tenderize the meat first with a mallet, it will absorb the marinade better. 
  4. Change your coating.  Breadcrumbs are packed with fat and carbohydrates.   These are an unnecessary source of calories in the recipe.  I use steel-cut oats and Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Cereal.  Not only will it decrease the calories; it will also add fiber.  
  5. Cut the cream.  I sometimes enjoy cream-based soups and alfredo sauce.  The cream is an essential ingredient, but it can be replaced with fat-free half-and-half.  It will provide a creamy texture without the fat and calorie of cream.  Evaporated skim milk is another great substitute for cream.  
  6. Replace the sour cream.  I love Mexican food.  I replace sour cream with fat-free plain Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt is a healthy replacement for sour cream that adds protein and reduces fat content.  If you want a great dip for vegetables, get a ranch packet and add it to a cup of plain Greek yogurt.
  7. Forget full-fat dairy.  I have replaced full-fat milk with skim in all recipes and my diet.  I use Fairlife skim because it has more protein and no fat.   
  8. Cooking time

    Cooking time

    Remove the skin.  The worst part of the poultry is the skin.  It is packed with fat. In fact, three ounces of chicken breast meat has only 100 calories.  The skin adds about 50 calories and is almost entirely saturated fat.   

  9. Increase the low-cal ingredients.  I add extra vegetables to my dishes.  By increasing the vegetables, you get more food per serving, and due to the fiber content, it will be more filling without adding a lot of extra fat.  
  10. Moderate the cheese.  Be choosy with not only the type of cheese but also decrease the amount you add.  When you choose a type of cheese with intense flavor, you can use less and still get the desired effect. I prefer a sharp cheddar or aged parmesan. 
  11. Add a squeeze of citrus. You can add a great flavor zing with minimal added calories by choosing to use citrus on steamed veggies instead of butter.  It goes great with just about everything from fruit to salads.  Lime or lemon is also a great tenderizer of chicken.  
  12. Shred or mince high-fat meats.  If a recipe calls for bacon, pepperoni, or sausage, mince up the meat into tiny bits.  It will add the flavor with less volume added and help decrease the fat and calorie content,  
  13. Puree your beans and vegetables.  Making soup and need cream to make it creamy?  A healthier alternative is to add lentils or beans and puree them until it is thick and creamy.  It will add body to soups and sauces without all the fat from cream.  It will work with just about every pea or bean.  
  14. Replace oil with applesauce.  Muffins can be a good breakfast food for on the go.  You can decrease the fat in your bran muffins by replacing the cooking oil with applesauce.  I use half the oil and replace it with an equal volume of applesauce.  
  15. Go whole grain.  Replace your white flour with a whole grain version.  It will take some getting used to, but it will increase the fiber content and keep you full longer.  

I hope you enjoy these suggestions.  Good luck with your endeavor.  





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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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