6 Ways to Choose Healthier Recipes
If you’re like most Americans, the struggle to consistently eat a healthy diet is real. Barbeque and fried chicken restaurants surround you. According to Amber Cranfield, a Registered Dietitian at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center, “In the U.S., most people don’t look at the quality of their food and recipes. If you looked at your food as energy and used your calories wisely, you would naturally be eating healthier.”
If you are looking for an excuse to break bad habits, you can start healthier eating habits on Nov. 7, National Healthy Eating Day. Amber has some tips to help you break the cycle of bad food choices and modify your recipes to be healthier.
- Recognize a healthy recipe. The key is to look for quality foods. Does the recipe cover several food groups and does it have a protein and fiber? Make sure you use a lean protein and trim excess fat. Having a high-quality fiber in a recipe will help you feel full longer. Examples of high-quality fiber include fruits, green vegetables, beans, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Find recipes at trusted sources. There are dozens of healthy recipe websites online. Amber consistently uses the following sites to help her patients find healthy recipes:
- Substitute sources of fat in recipes. Many recipes contain oil, sour cream or mayo. Substitute non-fat plain Greek yogurt for a portion of the total fat. You can also use half of the amount of oil or butter, it typically does not have an effect on the final meal. Substitute olive oil or canola oil for Crisco. If the recipe calls for whole milk or cream, substitute nonfat milk.
- Substitute sources of sugar in recipes. Hidden sugar is found in so many pantry items that it is important to limit sugar in recipes. Sugar is in most of our condiments, bread and processed foods. Therefore it is important to use a sugar substitute when a recipe calls for sugar. Stevia is a natural low-calorie substitute. You can also substitute applesauce, maple syrup or raw honey to some recipes in place of refined sugar.
- Substitute high starch vegetables to reduce carbohydrates. If your recipe calls for pasta or rice you can substitute spiraled vegetable noodles, or cauliflower rice to make the recipe healthy. Many stores sell the vegetables in this form in the produce or frozen food section of the grocery store.
- Avoid processed items in recipes. It is difficult to avoid eating processed foods every day, but when you see it in a recipe, you should avoid it at all costs. Processed foods add sugar and sodium to your diet that you do not need. If a recipe calls for “cream of” soup, substitute low-fat milk or low-fat half and half with some herbs for flavor. If a recipe calls for canned broth, substitute the water you boiled the whole wheat pasta in, or white wine.
Amber offers one final tip that can help you eat a healthy diet. Watch portion sizes and drink more water. Take small steps toward eating healthy every day and stick with them. Most importantly, don’t call it a diet—it’s a lifestyle.
You can also check out healthy recipes from St. Elizabeth Healthcare online. If you want to learn more about the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center and group Weight Management classes, please call (859) 212-GOAL.