Healthy Eating: Recipe makeovers

Substitute a few ingredients in your favorite recipes and watch as those unwanted calories and fat melt away.

November 29, 2010 18:19
4 minute read.
Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Everyone has a favorite dish – one that is nearly impossible to give up, despite how many calories, fat and sugar you know that it contains. However, with a few tips and trick, you can transform your favorite entrée or dessert into a healthy recipe, while still maintaining that delicious flavor.

The best and simplest way to start cooking in a healthful way is to replace those foods and ingredients that are "bad" for you (namely fats and sugars) with those that are actually beneficially for you – here are some suggestions:

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Dinner Time - Israeli Style
In Israel, Chicken Schnitzel is one of the most popular foods. However, don't be fooled by the word chicken – this staple food can be one of the unhealthiest items found on your dinner table. From the layer of bread crumbs to the pool of oil (usually vegetable oil - the worst kind) used for frying, this seemingly healthy dish can have more than half of its calories from fat.

TIP: Bake it, don't fry it
Whenever you see a recipe that says "fry it", you normally replace these words with "bake it." And with a few added ingredients, your dish will come out tasting the same or even better. For chicken schnitzel a great substitute is to use Corn Flake crumbs (yes the cereal) instead of regular bread crumbs. Corn Flakes are one of the healthiest cereals around, and also one of the crunchiest - so by using them instead of bread crumbs you not only gain added nutritional value, but also that crunch that the frying normally adds. To make the cornflakes stick, lightly coat your chicken breast with olive oil or even a tomato sauce for an added Italian flare (it will basically be chicken parmesan without the parmesan). If you cannot find Corn Flake crumbs, use the cereal and mash it up using a rolling pin (you'll also give your arms a great work out).

One Potato, Two Potato…
What better way to top off your chicken schnitzel, then with some yummy garlic mashed potatoes- WRONG. While potatoes are loaded with Vitamin C, they also cause your blood sugar to spike, leaving you hungry just a few short hours later. And the worst is yet to come – to get that smooth and creamy texture you need to add a lot of butter, sometimes more than one or two sticks. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

TIP: Sweet Potatoes: Not just an orange colored potato
Loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, sweet potato is one of the healthiest foods around, and also the most versatile. Mashed sweet potatoes are a great alternative to regular white potatoes, and on top of the extra nutritional value, you don't need to add any butter. Simply place the sweet potatoes in the microwave for 7 to 10 minutes, until they are very soft, and then mash them together and add cinnamon to taste.

Dessert Time!
For those of us with a sweet tooth, passing up dessert can be a challenge. From cakes to cookies to ice cream, everyone has a favorite sweet treat that finishes off dinner perfectly. However, as we all know desserts are generally high in calories, full of fat and loaded with sugar, and chances are contain no nutritional value whatsoever. However, all this can change by substituting a few small ingredients.


Butter is not better
Butter may taste great, but it is loaded with artery-clogging saturated fats – and trust me you really don’t need or want this in your system. For those of you who love to bake your own desserts, a great trick is to replace half to all the butter or oil with unsweetened applesauce. This will not only make your recipe healthier, less fattening and lower in calories, but also, in my opinion, make it more moist and delicious. I recommend trying out this trick on all baked goods from muffins to cakes.

Crème de la crème
Who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting? From carrot cake to red velvet muffins, this icing is definitely at the top of the most “delicious” list. While this icing is generally better for you than  a butter cream frosting, everything can become healthier. So, instead of using full-fat cream cheese try using a fat-free or reduced fat cream cheese. Also, try fat-free cream cheese the next time you make a cheese cake. Pie

Cut the crust
A typical pie crust can have around 200 calories, and approximately 120 of them come from fat. Instead of baking a typical pie, try an apple or pear crumble – or in other words a crustless pie. In a crumble, all you have is a little bit of crust sprinkled on top – so you are eliminating those unwanted fat calories without eliminating that great warm pie taste.

Next time, "tips and tricks" on how to enjoy your favorite holiday treats without fearing those dreaded consequences.

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