Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stretched and Challenged: A HEALTHY POST

The title says it all.  I've been challenged this week.  But, I've been stretched, too.  I'm entering into unchartered waters.... Sure, I'm okay at cooking yummy meals.  Sure, I know how to make meals ahead of time.  I can even combine the two and make yummy meals ahead of time.  But, some dear special friends have been dealing with some health challenges and I am humbly assisting with a project to make meals for this family.  So, that means a) Yummy; b) Make ahead; c) Super-healthy.  This is HARD.  But it is SO WORTH IT.  You gotta realize that I am without doubt the pickiest eater in the world.  I know a lot of people claim that title, but I REALLY have won it.  (I don't like veggies {except corn and potatoes...which some people call "starches"}, fruit - none, not one single fruit, fish...oh, this list is embarrassing...I gotta stop.)  So, I am up for the challenge.  I have a tangible way to tell a great family that they have friends/family that love them, I'm learning A LOT, and I hope to start adding one uber-healthy meal to my rotation a week.  Now, don't get me wrong - we don't eat horribly at my house, but lentils, prunes and kasha aren't on my normal grocery list.  Here are some healthy facts I've been learning as I research specific dietary needs.  For the research, major kudos go to my amazing sister-in-law, Rachel...a dietician/nutrionist/tall/skinny/curly-haired/beautiful/runner...yep, we have NOTHING in common, but I love her, and in spite of my flaws, she still likes me!

Some basic tips for making your favorite recipes healthier include:

  • One thing I have started to do is, anytime I make a ground beef dish, I replace half the meat with black beans...-waaaaaay better for you.
  • Decrease the meat and increase the vegetables called for in stews and casseroles.
  • Choose whole-grain versions of pasta and bread; substitute whole-wheat flour for bleached white flour when you bake. 
  • Serve imaginative whole-grain side dishes like bulgur or kasha instead of white rice or pasta.
Cook with less fat by using non-stick skillets. 
  • Blot all fried meats on paper towels. Or better yet, try baking instead of frying.
  • Avoid cooking with soy or Worcestershire sauce and products that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Use garlic or onion powder instead of garlic or onion salt, and use unsalted or low-salt vegetable broths and products.
  • Buy reduced-fat cheese or use mozzarella, which is naturally lower in fat.
  • In recipes calling for milk or cream, substitute reduced fat versions or try using other “milks” such as rice milk, nut milks or soy milk. Also use low-fat cream cheese, yogurt, and mayo.
  • Unhealthy fats like certain oils, butter, or margarines can usually be cut by 1/3 to 1/2 in recipes. At first try a small cut-back and then use less and less over time; you'll hardly notice the difference. 
  • You can also use fat substitutes like prune purees and applesauce in baked goods.
  • Use fresh-frozen fruit without added sugar if fresh is unavailable.
  • Cut the sugar called for in most recipes by 1/3 to 1/2.
  • Sweeten waffles and quick breads with cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla or almond extracts in order to cut the sugar content.
  • Try salsa on a baked potato or salad rather than high-fat dressing or butter.

 Happy (Healthy) Cooking!


The Sneaky Mommy said...

Great tips!!! Thank you so much for working on this project! I know they will greatly appreciate it!
By the way...for you: picky = skinny. So, don't beat yourself up! (maybe try an apple just for me though, okay?)

juliemoo said...

Oh.My.Word. So I'm not the only one who WON'T eat veggies, fruit, or fish?!?! I thought I was the only one. I'm the girl who goes to the salad bar and gets a plate of croutons! Also nothing that is squishy, green, or swims. And if I could only eat bread for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy camper. :)

Sarah said...

I didn't realize you were picky! :) Good for you for trying to add healthy meals to your week- I am not picky and it is STILL difficult! Thanks for all the tips! Btw, I'll send you a message on fbook about our next trip to Iowa! I would LOVE to get together! :)