Recipe Makeover: Part II

 It can be very convenient to eat out most of the time and not have to worry about grocery shopping or preparing your own meals. However, a lot of restaurant dishes contain hidden salt, sugar, and fat including the ones labeled “light” on the menu. This habit of going out to eat contributes to a higher calorie and salt intake overtime.

What I like most about cooking at home is that you can control the ingredients. As mentioned last week, just by cutting the oil, butter, salt or sugar in half can sometimes make it a healthy dish on its own. The first step is to search for some recipes and read over the ingredients to see if it is something you think you might like and can make. Once you have decided on the recipe, besides figuring out how much fat, salt, and sugar to cut back on, check to see if there are any simple substitutions you can do to make it still taste delightful.

Simple Substitutions 

1. To make up for less salt flavor, try adding lemon or lime zest, citrus juice, fresh herbs, vinegar, or peppers.  Consider toasting the herbs in oil to bring out the flavor even more!

2. In order to cut down on fat from meats, consider using a different cut of meat for the same recipe. For example, you can substitute beef tenderloin for rib-eye, lean pork chops for pork ribs, or venison for beef.

3. For lower fat substitutes, you can use plain low-fat yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise and nonstick pans and cooking sprays instead of oil, when possible.

4. Use these ingredients for added sweetness in place sugar: caramelized onions, carrots, apples, sweet-berries, sweet bell peppers, pimentos, and pineapples.

5. For baking, consider cutting half the oil and use a fruit puree  such as apple sauce or mashed bananas to make up for the rest. Or, try replacing half of the sugar with a sugar substitute such as Splenda. See this  handout for directions on how to perfect this strategy. 

Recipe of the week:

Classic Spinach Manicotti – this is a recipe that I developed as a lower calorie version for a school project when I was in college. It is based off of a family recipe passed down from my Mother.

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