Five steps to make favorite recipes healthier

Substituting cream for butter is not going to make your meal healthier.

The season of food indulgence is upon us. It’s a time of year when people gather with family and friends, which seems to always involve food – lots of food. In my family, as in most families, we have recipes that are traditional favorites. They are recipes that are prepared especially for this special time of year. A tradition I have taken on is preparing the Christmas Eve meal. During my childhood, I recall always having mushroom soup with this meal, and I don’t mean from the can, I mean from scratch.

I have put my own twist on the mushroom soup recipe my mother gave me when I took on the challenge of preparing this special, annual meal. Changes include that I don’t use heavy cream, I use fat-free half-and-half and I replaced the beef broth with a low sodium version. I have also added more flavors by adding some cayenne into the mix. These are small changes. The soup still tastes pretty close to my mom’s, but with a kick and it’s also little healthier.

Michigan State University Extension suggests substituting one ingredient for another. This will help you to keep the wholesome goodness of a traditional recipe, while making it healthier for everyone around the table. Julia Child said, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” This, however, is not what I mean by substitution.

Mayo Clinic suggests Recipe makeovers: 5 ways to create healthy recipes.

Reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt

  • Reduce the amount of fat, replacing it with applesauce, mashed banana or prune puree in baked goods. Sweetness can be boosted with spices or flavors like cinnamon or vanilla extract. Reduce or eliminate salt and consider low-sodium items.

Make a healthy substitution

  • Substitute whole grains when available. Use low-fat or fat-free dairy items. Replace part of a meat portion with vegetables.

Cut back on some ingredients

  • Consider eliminating or using a smaller amount of toppings like frosting, cut condiments such as olives or syrup, or use a half-cup of cheese instead of one cup.

Change cooking and prep techniques

  • Use healthier methods like broiling, grilling or steaming. Instead of basting items in drippings or oil, opt for a small amount of wine or vegetable broth. Using a non-stick pan with non-stick spray can reduce the amount of added calories and fat.

Downsize the portion size

  • Use a smaller plate or making sure that none of your food touches on the plate can help to reduce your portion size. Be sure to eat slowly and enjoy your food and give your body about 20 minutes before you decide to go back to make another selection.

The changes you make to traditional recipes do not have to have a huge impact of the flavor or taste. Changing the amount of calories by making an ingredient substitution or using a different cooking technique will not take away from the amount of thought and love the food was prepared with, but it may add to it. Be willing to put your own twist on a family favorite this year.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources