01. Use less fat.

Three R’s that you can memorize: Remove, replace and reduce.

  1. Remove: Sometimes you can completely eliminate a fatty ingredient without doing harm to a recipe. Take sausage. If there are other flavors such as onions, spinach, mushrooms, garlic etc., there is a good chance you won’t miss the offensive ingredient.
  2. Replace: If you cannot stand the thought of removing the sausage from a recipe, consider replacing it with turkey keilbasa. Be creative with replacements.
  3. Reduce: Don’t wish to remove or replace? Then consider reducing the amount of a fatty ingredient such as sausage. For example, if you make Hamburger Helper, use one-half a pound of meat as opposed to an entire pound. It is just as good. Another way to reduce is to go to light versions of things if the non-fat doesn’t appeal to you. Dairy products are often better in “light” rather than fat free.

02. Use “better” fat.

Use mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Canola was thought to be good oil, but there is now some controversy over the process used to make it. There is an ingredient used called “rapeseed” from Canada that some are saying can cause many adverse reactions, including cancer. I have not read of any concrete evidence as yet, but it never hurts to be careful. Stick with olive oil.

For general baking and cooking usage, do not buy the extra light. That is misleading. It has just as much fat in it as regular olive oil. The extra light or virgin, as it is often called, merely means a change in the flavor of the olive oil; something you do not want. Watch food labels for saturated fats, too. Try to avoid them whenever you can.

03. Use less sugar in recipes.

Americans are now eating more sugar than ever. Cutting back on your sugar intake is a good idea for anyone. It would also mean less calories. According to a recent nationwide study done by the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans are eating an average of twenty teaspoons of sugar a day. The bulk of this sugar is coming from soft drinks, baked goods, candy, and frozen milk desserts. The USDA recommends that not more than 6 to 10 percent of your daily caloric intake be from sugar. That is the equivalent of about nine teaspoons.

04. Switch to whole grains.

Whole grains would include brown rice instead of white, and whole-wheat flour in recipes whenever possible. You can incorporate this easily into your recipes without harming flavor by dividing the amount of flour in any recipe and using half-whole wheat and half white. Whole grains have more nutrients, more fibers and more beta-carotene, all good stuff!

05. Add flaxseed when possible.

What is flaxseed? Flaxseed is a rich source of antioxidants, which protect healthy cells. It is also an excellent source of fiber. Now, what to do with it? You can add it to muffins, (low fat, please), stews, smoothies, shakes, breads and hot cereal. When adding it to muffins, decrease the amount of all-purpose flour by 1/4-cup and replace that 1/4-cup with the flaxseed. You can use a similar approach with bread recipes. For stews and soups and hot cereals use a good sprinkling of flaxseed. In smoothies, add about one to two tablespoons before blending. For some more information and recipes, see Flaxseed in the recipes section.

06. Add fruit and vegetables.

By adding fruits and vegetables to your recipes you’ll increase nutrients, fiber and beta carotene. Muffins are an excellent way to incorporate fruits. Pasta dishes are good for adding vegetables to. Some powerhouse fruits and vegetables to try incorporating into your recipes are cantaloupes, bananas, winter squash, oranges, grapes, berries of all kinds, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chard, spinach and tomatoes.

07. Eat Beans!

Whenever you prepare a dish you think you can add beans to, either in the recipe itself or as a side dish, do so. Beans add fiber and beta-carotene plus there are a lot of choices with beans that are tasty and convenient. Canned and frozen beans are equally as good for you as fresh.

08. Use Vegetable Purees

Make vegetable purees, free of seeds, skin and tough fibers – just right for creamy soups or baby food. Wash vegetables and cut into quarters or cubes. Simmer until soft; drain. Cool slightly, then strain. Far less calories and fat than creams in creamed soups.

09. Use lean meat.

This is imperative. Look for the word “lean” on all the meat you buy. Leaner meats include chicken and turkey breasts, pork tenderloin, ground sirloin, center cut pork loin and extra lean ham. Try to limit servings to three to four ounces. Occasionally, try some vegetarian recipes. You may learn to like some and would be doing yourself a huge favor.

10. Don’t follow directions.

When using cake mixes or macaroni and cheese mixes, disregard the directions. If there is butter, use less or replace some of it with light or non-fat sour cream. For cake mixes, in place of oil, you can use liqueur, sherry, fruit juice, pureed fruit or crushed pineapple and fat free sour cream can be used as a substitute in brownie mixes.

You can also divide the amount of oil, using half oil and half-unsweetened applesauce. You could replace all the oil with applesauce and many do, but I find this tampers with the consistency a bit too much. Just cutting the amount in half removes a lot of fat yet keeps the texture appetizing. Your body does need some fat, so it’s okay to use some here and there.

One last tip…

Always keep in mind the word “moderation“.

Healthier Cooking Tips

Healthy cooking starts with cutting down on the fat and salt you add to foods. This may mean learning some new ways to cook. But it does not mean losing flavor or spending more time in the kitchen. There are lots of quick, easy ways to cook without using fat and salt.

Cook with Less Fat

Try the healthy cooking tips below with your existing recipes or all the new ones you can collect, if desired.

  • Remove skin from chicken and turkey, and trim all visible fat from meat before cooking.
  • Broil, bake, stew, poach, or microwave fish, chicken, turkey and meat.
  • Brown meat under the broiler.
  • Roast on a rack so the fat drips away.
  • Simmer in low-sodium broth or wine instead of frying in fat.
  • Use nonstick pans or nonstick cooking spray.
  • Steam or microwave vegetables without adding fat or salt.
  • Chill soups and stews. Then skim off any fat before reheating and serving.

Add Flavor Without Fat or Salt

  • Try herb blends, lemon juice, pepper, or flavored vinegar on vegetables.
  • Add chopped onions, garlic, and peppers to flavor beans and rice.
  • Sprinkle herbs on fish, chicken, turkey, and meat, and in soups.
  • Marinate fish, chicken, turkey and meat for flavor. Try ginger, lemon juice, low-sodium salsa, or wine.
  • Spoon natural cooking juices over meat in place of gravy or cream sauce.

Lighten Up Your Recipes

  • Replace whole milk or cream in soups and sauces with low-fat milk, evaporated skimmed milk, or nonfat dry milk.
  • Replace half the fat called for in baked goods with applesauce.
  • Use low-fat or nonfat sour cream or cottage cheese to make dips and toppings.
  • Use nonfat yogurt or low-fat buttermilk in salad dressings.
  • Use two egg whites or one-quarter cup egg substitute in place of one whole egg.
  • Use fat free or reduced-fat cheese in place of high fat cheese.

Cooking Suggestions:

  1. Stir-fry skinless chicken breasts with vegetables and curry.
  2. Top rice with steamed vegetables and fresh parsley.
  3. Make chili using two or three kinds of beans instead of meat.
  4. Steam frozen carrots or peas, then season with mint.
  5. Boil noodles and to with fat-free tomato sauce and a little Parmesan cheese.
  6. Core apples and fill with raisins; bake.

Healthy Cooking for Kids

Healthy cooking for kids is one way to encourage healthful eating among them and build good habits for life.

Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Well

Cooking for kidsGetting kids involved in healthy cooking for kids is one way to encourage healthful eating. If they help prepare it, they just may eat it. Following are suggestions, tips, the best and worst foods for kids, plus some healthy recipes you’re children are sure to enjoy!

A healthy cooking for kids regimen that is too rigid or rigorous also has pitfalls. Moderation is the key to success.

As children develop good eating habits, praise them. Reward an all out good effort with an occasional non-edible treat, such as a movie pass or tickets to a ball game.

Do not expect immediate results. Changing eating and exercise habits gradually offers a much better chance that your child will make them a way of life.

It may be more convenient to feed kids smaller meals and give them nutritious nibbles between meals when they are hungry. That is one way to sneak in fruits and vegetables when the kids are not expecting them and are the most likely to eat them because they are hungry.

Remember to combine different colors and textures at mealtime to make it more interesting and enticing.

The Top Ten Worst Foods for Kids

Following are ten of the worst children’s foods, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

  1. Soda
  2. Hamburgers
  3. Hot dogs
  4. Ice cream
  5. Bologna
  6. Whole milk
  7. American cheese
  8. French fries and Tater Tots
  9. Pizza loaded with cheese and meat
  10. Chocolate bars

The Top Ten Best Foods for Kids

  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables (especially carrot sticks, cantaloupe, oranges, watermelon, strawberries)
  2. Chicken breast and drumstick without skin or breading
  3. Cheerios, Wheaties or other whole-grain, low-sugar cereals
  4. Skim or 1-percent milk
  5. Extra-lean ground beef or vegetable burgers
  6. Low fat hot dogs
  7. Non-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt
  8. Fat free corn chips or potato chips
  9. Seasoned air-popped popcorn
  10. Whole wheat crackers or Small World animal crackers

Build-Your-Own Recipes for Kids

Pita Pockets

Put out whole wheat pita breads sliced in half, small pieces of sliced turkey breast or low fat cheese and vegetables such as lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts. Let the diners spice up their sandwiches with mustard, cranberry sauce or salsa.

Baked Potato

Offer healthful toppings for baked potatoes such as grated part-skim Parmesan cheese, plain non-fat yogurt flavored with curry or dill, ratatouille, vegetables sauteed in water or a little oil, canned (without salt) or frozen peas and salsa.

Chef’s Salad

Set out washed and torn lettuce, fresh spinach, diced turkey and lean ham, low fat cheese, hard-cooked eggs or egg whites, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrots. Serve fresh bread on the side.

Burritos

Offer cooked ground turkey, cooked kidney or black beans (drained if using canned), hot sauce, black olives, cooked rice, torn-up lettuce, diced tomatoes and warmed flour tortillas.

Cook Up Healthy, Tasty Vegetables

Vegetables

There are many ways to cook up your vegetables – but which way is the best? We’ll cover the most commonly used ways, you decide what is best for you!

Baking Vegetables

The vegetable skin will preserve most of the vegetables nutrient value. When baking, the vegetable must have a high enough water content not to dry out. Root vegetables are the best to bake as well as any potato, winter squash or onion.

Steaming Vegetables

Steaming is probably the best for all types of vegetables. It retains the nutrients and cooks in a short period of time.

Use microwave steaming bags for your vegetables instead of cooking them on the stove top. Steamed vegetables retain more of their natural color and nutrients.

Pressure Cooking Vegetables

Pressure cooking vegetables will shorten cooking times thus saving nutrients. The problem here is if you over cook even for a short period of time the vegetables turn to mush. Since vegetables all have a different consistency this is a problem.

Pan Frying Vegetables

Pan frying vegetables using a small amount of vegetable oil is another fast method of cooking. A Wok is fine, too. Remember, however, that when cooking vegetables in oils, the fat soluble vitamins may end up in the oil. You may want to keep the oil for the sauce.

Waterless Cooking

Works well for green leafy vegetables using only the water that adheres to their leaves after washing. This usually takes only three to five minutes.

Broiling Vegetables

Broiling vegetables is not recommended, due to the high loss of nutrients. If you must use this method, add the vegetables only after the water starts boiling and cook for the shortest period of time possible.

Note:  Refrigerate all foods as soon as possible; this will help you retain the potencies of the nutrients. Whole boiled carrots will retain 90 percent of their vitamin C and most of their minerals, but if you slice it up before cooking you will lose almost all of the vitamin C and niacin content.

Boiling Vegetables

When boiling vegetables there are a few good rules to follow.

  • Allow the water to boil for at least two minutes since the water will lose a high percentage of its oxygen. It is this high oxygen content of the water that causes the vitamin C potency to be reduced.
  • Never place vegetables in cold water and then bring it to a boil. If this is done, some vegetables can lose up to 10 to 12 times their vitamin C content.

Vary Your Veggies

From asparagus to zucchini, you can reap a bounty of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients when you choose from a colorful variety of vegetables.

  • Get lots of dark green veggies like broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce and collard greens.
  • Pick plenty of orange veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and butternut squash.
  • Eat more dry beans and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, split peas and lentils.
  • Mix it up even more with favorites like tomatoes, potatoes and corn and less familiar options like artichokes, eggplant and parsnips.

Safe Microwave Cooking

Safe Microwave cooking tips

A microwave oven emits microwaves which cause food molecules to vibrate. This friction is what causes the heat in the microwave. This heat will get hot enough to kill all the bacteria in the foods cooked; however, there are a few limitations.

Often when microwaving your food, you will find you are left with “cold spots”. These cold spots are uncooked food, which could contain surviving bacteria. A few microwave-savvy cooking suggestions will allow you to cook food safely and conveniently in your microwave.

Safe Practices for Microwave Cooking

  • Cut the food you are cooking into uniform pieces so more edges are exposed during cooking.
  • Always place thicker pieces of food near the outer edges of your cooking dish. (Outer areas receive more heat than inner).
  • Cover the food with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel or napkin to trap the steam. This heat will help destroy bacteria and distribute the heat more evenly.
  • Stir the food half-way during cooking time. This is the best way to ensure even cooking and death of bacteria!
  • If your microwave does not have a rotating turntable, be sure to rotate your food halfway through cooking time.
  • After your food is finished cooking, let it sit for a couple minutes. This is because the food will continue to cook. This will aid in uniform heating and killing of bacteria.

Wraps and Microwave-Safe Containers

When microwaving, you have to be sure you have a microwave-safe dish or container. Any dish or container that is not microwave-safe could melt and cause harmful contaminants to enter your food. The safest cookware to use would be some specifically stated to be microwave-safe, glass or ceramic.

Never use the following.

  • Aluminum foil.
  • Styrofoam or plastic plates.
  • Storage containers such as margarine tubs and take-out containers.
  • Plastic wraps (some have harmful chemicals that can leak into your food).

And What About Nutrients?

Microwaves do not destroy nutrients, but heat can cause a decrease in nutrients in some foods, while water can wash away some nutrients. However, this is true of any type of cooking. To date, there is no evidence that microwave cooking is in any way detrimental to your health.