Eating healthy doesn't have to be difficult.
I know what you're thinking ... Yeah, right, Melinda. I think you've been sipping one too many smoothies.
Really. It's true.
Lindsay from Cookin' Lean with Paula Deen says you can substitute healthier ingredients and still make your favorite dishes. As part of Mission Family Nutrition, I asked her to give us some ideas about how to accomplish this gold medal-worthy feat (a little Olympics reference there). She's got some awesome tips!
by Lindsay Rudolph
The thought of overhauling your entire diet can be quite exhausting -- even before thinking about tackling the eating habits of your family. This is especially true when you add factors such as young children, people that have grown accustomed to a certain style of cooking or in the worst cases…picky eaters.
Taking on this challenge can tend to look more like a homemaker’s version of Mission Impossible. Well, listen up and by all means, do not abort the mission just yet. There is a way to get over this obstacle.
Eating well does not mean swapping cupcakes for cardboard. It isn’t about swearing off all things delicious. There is no longer an “off-limits” food. The days of saying “no” to your favorite meals and treats are over. With just a few simple and smart switches to the ingredients in your favorite dishes, you will begin treating your body better without neglecting those taste buds.
Cooking lean, in my terms, is not about changing what you cook. The changes are in the ingredients used and how they are cooked.
Here are just some of the tricks I use every day in my cooking to keep things lean:
• When baking, substitute equal amounts of no sugar added apple sauce for oil.
• Fat Free cooking spray is a great alternative to butter or oil in foods such as: grilled cheese, omelets, stir-fry, sautéed meats and vegetables.
• Low-Fat Dairy can be used in place of the whole fat versions listed in most recipes (shredded cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc.). If a recipe calls for melted shredded cheese, 2% melts nicer than FAT FREE.
• Egg Whites and Egg Substitutes will cut fat and cholesterol from cakes, cookies and any dish that calls for it.
• Whole Wheat Pasta, Breads and Wraps can easily take the place of white products lacking in fiber and other nutrients.
• Lean Meats such as skinless chicken breast and fish are always best. However, lean beef, bacon and sausage are available. Look for meats that are “reduced-fat”, half the fat or 93/7.
• Butter has been made better thanks to options such as I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and Smart Balance. They are up to ½ the saturated fat and sometimes made with heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil. Check them out and try substituting in some recipes that just won’t work without butter.
To show you how easy this is, here is a recipe from my blog, Cookin’ Lean Like Paula Deen. It shows how a classic dish can be made a little bit healthier by making small changes to key ingredients.
CREAMY MACARONNI AND CHEESE
Makes 12 Servings
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon Smart Balance Butter-Blend w/EVOO, cut into pieces
1/2 cup FAT FREE sour cream
3 eggs whites or 1/2 cup Egg White Substitute, beaten
1 cup FAT FREE cottage cheese
10 oz. 2% Velveeta block cubed
2 cup uncooked Whole Wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and Velveeta. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter-blend mixture and add the sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Add egg whites.
Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally
Food is more than just something to fill our tummies when we are hungry. It’s about making us feel good inside. Food has meaning and feeling attached to it, even memories. This is why we shouldn’t give up the foods we have loved all our lives. We just need to simply give our favorites a little twist to make them as good for our bodies as they have always been for our souls.
For more recipes and ways to cook lean, visit me at www.cookinlean.com.