Recipe Makeovers

5 Ways to Create Healthy Recipes

Recipe MakeoversUse these techniques to reduce the fat, calories, and sodium in your favorite recipes.

Reduce the Amount of Fat, Sugar and Salt
You can often reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt without sacrificing flavor in healthy recipies. Use these general guidelines:

  • Fat – For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana, or prune puree. You can also use commercially prepared fruit-based fat replacers found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.
  • Sugar – Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. Instead, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond flavoring to boost sweetness.
  • Salt – Reduce salt by one-half in baked goods that don’t require yeast. (For foods that require yeast, don’t reduce the amount of salt, which is necessary for leavening. Without salt, such foods may become dense and flat.) For most main dishes, salads, soups and other foods, you can reduce the salt by one-half or eliminate it completely.

Make a Healthy Substitution
Healthy substitutions not only reduce the amount of fat, calories and salt in your recipes, but also can boost the nutritional content.

  • Pasta – Using whole-wheat pasta instead of enriched pasta, you will triple the fiber and reduce the number of calories.
  • Milk – Prepare a dessert with fat-free milk instead of whole milk to save 66 calories and almost 8g of fat per cup.
  • Meal – When making casseroles, scale back on meat, poultry or fish and increase the amount of vegetables. You’ll save on calories and fat while gaining more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Cut Back Some Ingredients
In some recipes, you can eliminate an ingredient altogether or scale back the amount you use.

  • Toppings – Eliminate items you generally add out of habit or for appearance, such as frosting, coconut or whipped cream toppings, which are all high in fat and calories.
  • Condiments – Cut condiments, such as pickles, olives, butter, mayonnaise, syrup, jelly and mustard, which can have large amounts of salt, sugar, fat and calories. Use less soy sauce than a recipe calls for to decrease the amount of salt.
  • Cheese – If a recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, use ½ cup instead.

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 in your meals.

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, and 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. Learn to use common visual cues to understand servings — for example, one serving of whole-grain cooked pasta is about the same size as a hockey puck.
  • 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.

Learn more about the nutrition and weight loss services offered at UAMS.