There is nothing like the first taste of a spoonful of hot chicken soup or the delightful feeling you get after a bite off a decadent chocolate cake.
Indeed, the best tasting food items are often the most sinful ones. While they might be packed in terms of taste and flavor, they are sure to contain a chock-full of unhealthy ingredients that need to be consumed only in moderation. Often, the flavors that caress and tickle our taste buds are the very same ingredients that clog our arteries and expand our waistlines. Sure, they might be called comfort food but the idea of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle is not comforting at all. If you have been thinking of making the switch to a healthier lifestyle, you might want to start your journey with the recipes you already have and the food you cook. The change need not be drastic as you can gradually work your way up to make your recipes healthier and friendlier to your body. Introduce changes little by little until you have recipes that only contain healthy ingredients.
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to adjust existing recipes. More importantly, you do not have to worry about compromising on flavor and taste either as the improvements will make them taste just as good (if not better) the original recipe sans the unhealthy components. Here are a few tips and techniques to help you revamp your favorite recipes to reduce fat, salt, calories, sugar and increase fiber without changing your normal diet radically and drastically.
1.) Cut down on salt
Most recipes require salt. However, if you want a healthier alternative, you can do away with the salt and go for alternative seasonings such as herbs, pepper, spices, lemon juice, mustard or vinegar. If people find it to bland, have them season it on their own--they are likely to use less salt. What most people do not realize is that they are eating more salt than they think, so cutting it down can do you a whole world of good.
2.) Cut down on fats
If your recipe requires frying, use a non-stick Teflon pan and dry fry. Just by leaving out the oil, you could cut about 45 calories per teaspoon in your meal. However, if you notice that your food is seemingly drying out, add just a little water. Alternatively, you can use fats and oils that are high in good fats such as olive oil. In the same vein, you can always try using less oil than what is suggested in the recipe.
3.) Cut down sugar
When baking, experiment by using less sugar. Most cakes still taste great even if the quantity of sugar is halved. More importantly, fruit cakes, scones or other tea breads can be made without sugar at all as the fruit already provides enough sweetness.
4.) Sauces and dips
Sauces are notorious for containing a lot of calories. In this regard, start by replacing cream, whole milk and sour cream with semi-skimmed, skimmed milk or low fat yogurt. Low fat yogurt and fromage frais can be used on cold or hot puddings and in dips in lieu of cream, Greek yogurt or double cream.
In lieu of cheddar cheese, use strong flavored cheeses such as blue cheese or mature cheddar in savory dishes. In this way, you can use less cheese and still get the same flavor. However, if the flavor is a bit much for you, use low fat alternatives of your favorites. Be sure to grate cheese instead of simply slicing it as it will spread across a dish faster and more easily allowing you to use less. Replace your cream cheese with low fat cream cheese.
6.) Soups and stews
Before serving your broth, stew or soup, let it sit first and allow it to cool. Once cooled, skim off the fat that gathers at the top of the liquid. Similarly, replace the traditional fatty meats in stews with peas, beans, lentils that can save on calories and fat while adding fiber to your meal.
Add flavor to your vegetables using herbs in lieu of butter or oil. Replace the meat in your dishes such as casseroles, lasagna and shepherd's pie with vegetables and pulses such as beans, lentils and peas. Savory dishes such as casseroles and lasagna allow you to disguise vegetables for picky and fussy eaters.
Make your meats less sinful by removing the skin from poultry and trimming the fat from meat before cooking. From there, bake, grill, microwave, roast or poach in lieu of frying it. Keep in mind that when you are roasting your meat, place it on a grill rack to allow the fat to drip away. When cooking minced meat, allow it to brown on the pan then drain away the fat before adding other ingredients to your dish.