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Converting Recipes to Healthy Recipes

Holiday season is especially cruel on our diets. Even if we are careful in eating healthy foods at home, the recipes in parties are a different thing; Loaded with -- butter, cream, plenty of sugar, plenty of salt, fat and other tasty but unhealthy ingredients. Even in today's health-conscious environment, it's a tough time to watch what we eat.

Most recipes can be modified to increase their health value without sacrificing taste. The key to healthful eating is "Reduce and replace." Make small changes so that you will not sacrifice the taste and flavor. This will maximize your chance of success.

What should you change? Here are some tips:

Reduce fats. Concentrate on reducing the saturated fats such as butter and other animal fats, which are high in cholesterol. As far as possible replace saturated fat with mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, etc.

Limit sugar: Sugar has no nutritional value. 

Limit salt: a risk factor for high blood pressure and hypertension in some people.

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals. 

For example, watch for fat in the recipe. Is there a way to reduce it or replace it with a less objectionable ingredient?

Pay special attention to the portion size. Substitute a smaller meat portion and fill your plate with vegetables and starches prepared without a lot of butter or cream." 

Here are some other tips for modifying recipes for health:

Whenever possible, replace butter with unsaturated oils such as olive, canola and soy oil. 

Use nonfat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk, and choose reduced-fat cheeses. 

Limit margarine and butter, which contains fats that can raise cholesterol and have been associated with cardiovascular disease risk. 

Substitute lean cuts of meat for fatty ones. Remove skins, which are fatty. 

Bake, broil or steam rather than fry. Sauté with a dash of oil, wine or tomato puree. 

Substitute herbs, spices, lemon juice or minced tangy vegetables instead of seasoning. Examples of herbs you can use are: onion, garlic, parsnip, parsley -- instead of salt and butter. 

Avoid cream-based soups, sauces and gravies. Replace cream with skim milk. Prefer vegetable-based soups and sauces. 

Eliminate egg yolks, which are high in fat and cholesterol. (Generally, double the eggs and throw away the yolks.) Or use egg substitutes.

Experiment with less fat, sugar and salt than called for in the recipe. Gradually increase, if necessary for taste. 

Substitute applesauce or other fruit purees for butter or oil in the recipe for baked goods such as cakes and cookies. This maintains fluffiness. Cut back on sugar by one-half or more. 

Make pie crusts with unsaturated oils instead of butter or solid fats. Top desserts with fat-free frozen yogurt or whipped evaporated skim milk. 

For your appetizers, look for recipes using fresh or roasted vegetables, fruits, lean meats, breads and reduced-fat cheeses. 

Bake sweet potatoes in their skins. Season mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and herbs. 

In recipes calling for coconut, substitute peanuts or other nuts. Coconuts and other tropical nuts are high on cholesterol. Similarly, replace coconut oil, palm oil or cottonseed oil with canola oil. Use margarine instead of lard.

Skip MSG in oriental recipes.

Replace bread stuffing with rice or grains. 

As far as practical, use reduced-fat dairy products, such as nonfat sour cream, whipped cream and whipped cream cheese. 

There are special healthy recipes and substitutes given in this website; use them as far as practical. But with some practice, you can covert your grandma's recipe to a healthy treat without compromising on the taste or flavor.

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