Monday, June 7, 2010

Reconstruct Your Recipes

If you have a few family favorites in your recipe box that aren’t as healthy as you would like them, but still want to be able to serve them from time to time, this blog is for you! Many very high calorie/high fat/high sugar recipes can be transformed into healthier versions without losing all of the taste. From experience, I will tell you that you can alter many recipes without your family or guests even having a clue; however, this won’t always be the case. Some recipes will have to be altered more than once before you strike a good balance of improved nutritional quality and superb taste. The following list will give you some ideas of how to alter recipes. Give some or all of them a try!

1. Flour: Use whole wheat instead of white or use half whole wheat and half white for a comporomise.

2. Butter: Will olive or canola oil work? If so, use it! If not, try using a variety such as Smart Balance that is very low in trans fat and low in saturated fat. Also consider reducing the amount of butter used in the recipe.

3. Sugar: Reduce the amount being used, use half splenda and half sugar, or use all splenda.

4. Eggs: Throw out all but one yolk when cooking with eggs, or use egg substitute.

5. Cheeses: Use cheese made with part-skim or 2% milk. When cream cheese is called for, many recipes work well with fat free or reduced fat.

6. Dairy: Most recipes work well with skim milk and low fat/fat free sour cream or yogurt.

A few extra thoughts:

Use fresh herbs to flavor foods instead of butter and salt.
Add vegetables to stir-fries and casseroles for extra fiber and nutrients.

Stay tuned next week for a few examples of recipes that I have reconstructed!
Motivational Monday!
Eating healthy sets a great example for my children!


  1. I'd second that many of these "subtle" changes can be made without chaning the overall taste of the finished product.

    We also like to use leaner ground turkey instead of ground beef. If it's "mixed in" the receipe (e.g., lasagna), you can't tell the difference.

  2. Busy-Dad-E: Thank you for that great tip! I just wanted to highlight that you said LEANER ground turkey. Many people do not realize that just any package of ground turkey won't do. Ground turkey often contains the dark meat and sometimes even the skin, which means that it is packed full of unhealthy saturated fats, just like the high fat ground beef. When looking for ground turkey, be sure that it is lean and try comparing the saturated fat content to other lean ground beef packages. What your store carries will vary, so there may be times that you find a leaner package of ground beef than turkey. An easy check is to make sure the ground turkey is made with ALL white meat. Thanks again for this great suggestion!

  3. Thank you for the great tips. I have had pretty good luck with substituting all or part of the oil with applesauce when baking quick breads, muffins, cakes, etc.

  4. Erin'sMom: Thank you for that great tip! You are right...I've found that sometimes part-substitution with applesauce works well, other times you can't even tell if you sub all of it!