Tips for Healthy Cooking

Healthy Substitutions

Use skim milk, buttermilk or skim evaporated milk in place of homogenized milk or cream.

Instead of sour cream or mayonnaise, use low fat yogurt or low fat cottage cheese which you can make smooth in a blender or food processor.  Not only are yogurt and cottage cheese lower in fat, they have more protein and other nutrients like calcium.

Lean or extra lean ground beef, ground turkey, or cooked legumes (example: red lentils, black beans or chick peas) can be used instead of medium ground beef in casseroles, chili or lasagna.

For sauteing or stir-frying, use a little water, broth or juice in place of oil.

Replace much of the fat in muffins or other quick breads with low fat yogurt or fruit puree (for example: apple, banana, prune or pear). This is where you'll have to use some trial and error to get a product that you like.  Try using half as much of the fruit puree in place of the fat.  For example, subsitute 1/2 cup apple sauce for 1 cup butter and add 2 tablespoons of oil or butter back for some added taste and texture.

Healthier Cooking

Cut the salt in half in your favorite recipes.  Most of the time this will not produce a noticeable taste change.  Consider replacing part of the salt with an herb or spice, flavored vinegar, citrus juice or peel.  Garlic or onion powder (not garlic or onion salt) work well in meats, soups, and sauces.  Make your own mix of garlic, onion, paprika, and parsley flakes.

Use veggie spray or non-stick pans for grilling or stir-frying.

Choose methods of cooking that will retain flavor, color, and nutrients.  Steam instead of boiling vegetables.  Avoid cooking at high temperatures (except for quick stir-frying) and long cooking times.  Both extended heat and liquid can destroy or leach out valuable nutrients.

Add vegetables whenever possible to ensure your five-a-day intake.  Experiement with more veggie variety in salads, try new vegetable mixes, include some shredded vegetables in casseroles, and add different vegetables to soups and stews.  Use chopped red or yellow peppers to "pep" up the flavor.

Try some lower-in-fat substitutes such as low fat cheese, salad dressing and evaporated skim milk.  Try low cholesterol egg products.  Use two egg whites instead of one whole egg to significantly reduce the fat and cholesterol content of some baked goods.

When you use oil, select oilive or canola oil.  Drain off visible fat while cooking, blot pan-friend foods on paper towels to absorb extra grease, and allow soups to chill before reheating and serving so that the fat can be skimmed off the top.

Choose roasting, poaching or stir frying as frequent cooking methods.  Keep open-flame grilling of meats to a minimum as this practice produces cancer-promoting compounds.  Avoid eating charred food.  Microwave cooking is a healthful way to cook vegetables because the short cooking time reduces nutrient loss and usually no added water or fat is needed.

Try more fruit deserts (fresh, stewed, and cobblers) instead of cakes and cookies.  Choose frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet instead of ice cream.  Serve cake with fruit sauce instead of frosting or whipped cream.