Get creative and have fun for healthy cooking

By now you should have caught on that I feel strongly about continuing to eat familiar favorite foods while maintaining my weight in a healthy way. Achieving the full extent of this lofty goal takes a combination of creativity and patience. When I look at a recipe, I can tell fairly quickly if I want make it as written or completely break it down and rebuild it before serving for the first time.

The Creative Component Part 1

Simple Recipe Swaps:

  • Omitting or reducing the oil and butter works in many recipes (may not work when baking).
  • When baking – Fruit or squash purees can be used in place of some butter or oil.
  • Low or non-fat yogurt may take the place of full fat sour cream.
  • Low-fat Buttermilk or half and half may work in place of heavy cream.
  • Lower fat goat cheese (chèvre or feta) may take the place of shredded cheese in some recipes.
  • In some recipes you can reduce the number of egg yolks called for to lower the fat.
  • Consider using a leaner type or cut of meat for your recipe to cut calories and fat.

Examples:

  • Ground turkey for ground beef
  • Chicken sausage in place of pork sausage
  • Flank steak in place roast beef (cooking method and time will change)
  • Fish or tofu in place of chicken

The Creative Component Part 2

Add bulk:

The second step to lightening a recipe is adding ingredients that increase the nutritional value and keep the portions generous. Fruits and vegetables are my go-to portion stretchers. It is rare for me to cook pasta without dropping a couple handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables into the boiling water with the noodles. The pasta and veggies will be tossed with the sauce and served as a single entree.

Side Note: By delightful coincidence my large mesh strainer fits into the top of my favorite pot comfortably enough to pop the lid on. This discovery has enabled me to steam vegetables over pasta water without dirtying more dishes or taking extra time. Glance around your kitchen to see if you can find creative uses for what you already have on hand.

Be Patient

Patience is crucial when the swaps don’t workout the way I envisioned. There is indeed a learning curve. Not every swap or, as I like to call them, “experiment” results in a crowd-pleasing new recipe. When things go a little wonky I don’t write off the meal; I take the time to think about what I like and don’t like about the attempt. Sometimes a recipe really needs the oil or butter to give it a crispy edge or pleasing mouth feel so I make a mental note to add a little more the next time. Sometimes the added vegetables or fruit create a mushy or sticky texture. In this case I consider reducing the additional ingredients or adding more dry ingredients for balance.

I am always tickled when asked cooking questions, specifically questions related to swapping ingredients. In general I feel that it is important to feel empowered in your own kitchen. If you want to try swapping ingredients do it. Think of the process as playing and the results as learning experiences. Even if you create a result you would prefer not to duplicate you will learn something and as long as you learn something you can’t fail.

More in Life

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

Hau Tran sings as Vietnamese seniors eat at Homage’s Center for Healthy Living on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. Each weekday the center offers its room for various cultures to get together for activities and lunch while speaking their native languages. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Seniors of four cultures gather for food, fitness and fun

Homage’s Center for Healthy Living offers a venue for programs in the seniors’ native languages.

Ethnic communities eagerly await Lunar New Year on Feb. 16

By Homage Senior Services Ethnic communities around the world are getting eager… Continue reading

Kia Rio subcompact takes a classy step up in 2018

A new design, roomier cabin, and better fuel economy are among the improvements on the 2018 Kia Rio.

What’s new for 2018 for travelers in Scandinavia

Sweden, Norway and Finland have embarked on many urban, cultural and transit projects.

Most Read