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Make your favorite recipes healthier

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POSTED: January 30, 2013 10:17 a.m.
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A few minor changes can make one’s regular cooking become healthier.

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A healthy diet plays a significant role in a person’s overall health. Without a healthy diet, men and women are more susceptible to disease and other potentially harmful ailments.
But when many people think of a healthy diet, a lack of flavor is often one of the first things to come to mind. That’s a common misconception, as a diet that’s healthy and full of nutrients simultaneously can be flavorful. In fact, it’s easy to enjoy many favorite dishes in a way that makes them much healthier. Often, a few minor alterations to a recipe is all it takes to turn the dish from high-risk to healthy.
• Trim the fat. No one wants to eat fat, but fat isn't entirely bad. Fat can help the body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, and replacing fat with something like carbohydrates decreases how much these valuable vitamins are absorbed. In addition, dietary fat releases chemicals in the brain that make one feel full, reducing the likelihood of overeating.
Those are just a few of the benefits of dietary fat, which is an essential element of a healthy diet. But overconsumption of dietary fat can be dangerous, and many people simply need to trim some fat from their diets. One way to do that is to reduce how much butter, shortening or oil used when cooking. For some recipes, one may be able to cut suggested portions of such ingredients by half without replacing them; however, for others, especially those for baked goods, these items may have to be replaced. In the case of the latter, find a suggested alternative to high-fat items, and only use half of the high-fat item listed in the original recipe. Chances are, one won’t taste the difference, but one’s body will be better for it.
• Substitute healthier fare. Substituting items is another way to turn a favorite dish into a healthier dish without altering the flavor dramatically, if at all. For example, instead of cooking with enriched pasta, purchase whole-wheat or whole-grain pastas, which are higher in fiber and lower in calories. If a recipe calls for milk, choose fat-free milk instead of whole milk. Doing so reduces your fat intake by nearly 8 grams per cup.
Recipes even can be made healthier by simply cutting back on the main dish and adding more vegetables. Instead of using the recommended amount of meat or chicken, scale back and make up for it with additional vegetables, which reduces your caloric and fat intake while adding more vitamins and minerals to your diet.
• Change your methods. Certain cooking techniques are healthier than others. Frying foods or cooking with fat, oil or salt is not the healthiest way to prepare a meal. Some favorite dishes that call for frying or cooking in oil can be just as flavorful if one opts for healthier methods like braising, broiling, grilling or steaming. When recipes call for basting foods in oil or drippings, forgo these unhealthy options and baste foods in vegetable juice or fat-free broth instead.
Also, nonstick cookware won’t require using oil or butter to keep foods from sticking to the pan.
What you use to cook can also be healthy or unhealthy. This reduces the amount of fat and calories you will consume, and you likely won't notice a difference with regards to flavor.
Men and women who enjoy food and cooking their own meals can take several steps to make those meals healthier without sacrificing flavor.

 

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