December 29, 2006

Healthier Eating for 2007

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier in 2007. Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m not going to indulge in my favorite pies, Paula Deen’s Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake or baked goods. This resolution just means that I’m going to try to eat more green veggies, salads and cut down on sugar.

It’s fairly easy to makeover your old favorite recipes into new healthier meals. All you have to know is what needs to be changed. It has been discovered by food scientists that the majority of people don’t notice some of the following changes in their meals:

Reduce sugar by one-third (Example: If a recipe says 1 cup, use 2/3 cup.)

This works best in canned and frozen fruits and in making puddings and custards. In cookies and cakes try using 1/2 cup sugar per cup of flour. For quick breads and muffins, use 1 tablespoon sugar per cup of flour. To enhance the flavor when reducing sugar, add vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg.

Reduce fat by one-third (Example: If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup use 1/3 cup.)

This works best in gravies, sauces, puddings and some cookies. For cakes and quick breads, use 2 tablespoons fat per cup of flour.

Omit salt or reduce by one-half (Example: If a recipe says 1/2 teaspoon, use 1/4 teaspoon.)

This may be more acceptable if you gradually reduce the amount each time you make the recipe. Herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning mixes can enhance flavor. Do not eliminate salt from yeast bread or rolls. It is essential for flavor and proper texture. Trust me on this, I've tried it....not very pretty.

Next step is to reduce your fat intake.

All fats and oils are high in calories and provide lots of flavor but you can make a healthier choice by choosing those with less saturated fat. Likewise, when you use lower fat milk products, you reduce fat, calories and cholesterol.

The best oils to use are: canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut, olive and soybean oil, contain the lowest amount of saturated fat (6%-15%). Coconut oil, butter, palm oil, animal fat and lard contain the most (41-54%).

This was one of the best choices I have made: Use reduced fat sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt in sauces and dips. I tried skim milk, but I couldn’t do it. I like my 2% milk way too much. Just be aware of how much milk you drink a day and don’t over do it.

Here are some other healthy ingredients I’ve tried:

Instead of 2 whole eggs try 1 whole egg plus 4 egg whites
Instead of whole milk try 2% or skim milk
Instead of cream try evaporated or evaporated skim milk
Instead of cream cheese try light cream cheese or Neufchatel (I love this kind of cheese)
Instead of whipped cream try homemade non-fat whipped topping (recipe follows)
Instead of cottage cheese try non-fat ricotta cheese
Instead of 1 ounce baking chocolate try 3 tablespoons powdered cocoa plus 1 tablespoon cooking oil
Instead of mayonnaise try half light mayonnaise and half non-fat yogurt

Here is a great trick when you want a no fat whipped topping.

No Fat Topping Recipe
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. In a thoroughly chilled small bowl, beat milk and ice water. Beat in lemon juice. Add sugar and vanilla and beat to soft peaks. Add gelatin mixture and beat. Yield: about 1 1/2 cups.

Calories: 12 per tablespoon

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