Nutrition basics (20)
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Healthy diets (12)
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Healthy cooking (14)
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Healthy menus and shopping strategies (13)
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Recipe makeovers: 5 ways to create healthy recipes
4. Change cooking and prep techniques
Healthy cooking techniques can capture the flavor and nutrients of your food without adding excessive amounts of fat, oil or salt. Try these preparation techniques for healthy recipes.
- Cooking method. Healthy cooking techniques include braising, broiling, grilling, poaching, sauteing and steaming.
- Basting liquid. If the directions say to baste the meat or vegetables in oil or drippings, use a small amount of wine, fruit juice, vegetable juice or fat-free vegetable broth instead.
- Nonstick cookware. Using nonstick pans or spraying pans with nonstick spray will further reduce the amount of fat and calories added to your meals.
5. Downsize the portion size
No matter how much you reduce, switch or omit ingredients, some recipes may still be high in sugar, fat or salt. You can help your diet by cutting back on the portion size instead.
- Slow down. Eat your meals more slowly to give your body a chance to register the fact that you're filling up. Put your fork down between bites if necessary. You'll eat less in the long run.
- Check portion sizes. Many portions today are so large you may not realize what a true portion or serving is. Train yourself by using smaller plates, spoons and cups. And learn to use common visual cues to understand servings — one serving of whole-grain cooked pasta is about the same size as a hockey puck, for instance.
- Plan ahead when eating out. It's easy to go overboard when eating out. Take precautions such as splitting a dish with a dining companion, skipping the bread basket, or asking for a doggie bag and packing up half your meal.
Putting it all together to create healthy recipes
Before plunging ahead with a recipe, look it over and think about what you can change to turn it into a healthy recipe. Make notes of any alterations, so you can refer to them the next time you prepare the recipe. You may have to make the recipe a few times before you get the results you want. But finding the right combination of ingredients — for the desired taste, consistency and nutrients — is well worth the trouble.
Take morning glory muffins from unhealthy to healthy
This muffin recipe shows a before-and-after ingredient list. As you can see, making a few small changes can make a big difference in the amount of fat, calories and salt in a serving.
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- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search. Accessed Oct. 4, 2010.
- Duyff RL. American Dietetic Association: Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2006:306.
- Encyclopedia of Foods: A Guide to Healthy Nutrition. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press; 2002:126.
- Nelson JK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 13, 2010.
- Zeratksy KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 13, 2010.