Recipe Makeovers: Five Ways To Cook Healthier Meals

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A healthy diet has been proven to offer various health benefits, such as lowering the risk of chronic diseases and keeping the body healthy. If you wish to get a bit more guidance about healthy eating, one of the first steps is to cook more at home. Cooking at home not only puts you in control of what food goes into your body but can be healthier than eating out. Sure, being organised, sticking to a stringent meal plan, and eating clean may work for some people. But many of us need less pressure when it comes to planning meals. 

Making home-cooked food doesn't have to be challenging, neither should it eliminate your favourite treats if you stick to healthy recipes. Even small improvements can have a significant impact on your health and well-being. Let's draw attention to five easy ways to transform unhealthy recipes into healthy ones without losing out on taste.

Cut Down On Fat, Sugar, And Salt

Many individuals exceed the recommended amount of added sugars, salt, and fat every day. However, overeating can increase risks of health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Try to stick to less added sugar including white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup within a day. If you are a woman, aim for less than six teaspoons, and less than nine teaspoons if you are a man. Also, it's recommended to consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium throughout a day. Keep in mind that for some people that are subjected to cardiovascular problems or kidney diseases, the amount of salt should be even less. 

Experiment by cooking with less fat, sugar, and salt while using herbs, spices, and vinegar to add flavour and decrease the intake of sodium without changing the flavour. Consider using these general guidelines for healthy home-made meals:

  • Fat. For baked goods, use half of the butter, shortening, or oil and replace the other half by adding unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana or any fruit puree. You can also purchase ready-made fat replacers that are made with fruits and can be found in the baking section of grocery stores;
  • Sugar. Limit the amount of sugar in the recipe by adding one-third or one-half of the required amount. As an alternative, you can add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg, or flavourings like vanilla or almond extract to improve the taste and sweetness;
  • Salt. For most main dishes, soups, and salads, you can diminish the salt quantity by half or even eliminate it. As for baked goods, you can reduce salt by half if the recipe doesn't require yeast addition.  

Add More Fruits & Vegetables

When you think about cooking, make vegetables and fruits the main components of your meals. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants, useful vitamins, minerals, and fibre to support good health. Opt for various fruits and red, orange, and dark-green vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, and broccoli.

Since it's advised to eat at least two cups of fruit and up to three cups of vegetables every day, be sure to make half your plate rich in fruits and veggies. Make fruit or veggie smoothies in the morning, a tasty salad for lunch, stuff spaghetti at dinner, or use vegetables as noodles by grating zucchini or potato. 

Also, snacks can be a great way to add extra produce servings by consuming small carrots, apple slices, dried fruit, or vegetable soup.

Change Cooking And Prep Techniques

The method you choose to cook your food also matters. Healthy cooking techniques can keep the flavour and nutrients of meals without adding high amounts of fat, oil, or salt. Make sure to choose the following preparation processes for healthier recipes: 

  • Cooking method. Healthy cooking techniques involve braising, broiling, grilling, casserole, sauteing and steaming;
  • Liquids in recipes. If the instructions include basting the meat or vegetables in oil or drippings, consider adding a small amount of wine, fruit juice, vegetable juice or fat-free vegetable broth;
  • Nonstick cookware. Using nonstick pans or spraying cookware with the nonstick spray will help to reduce the amount of fat as well as calories added to your meals.

Get Creative In The Kitchen

One of the easiest ways to create a healthy recipe is to start with a traditional or classic one and modify it in a few ways to make it healthier. Trade tasty recipes with your friends or search them online to find a suitable and maybe a new favourite. 

Since you are eating at home, you can take control of your food and know exactly what you are eating. Whether you are making pasta, sandwich, or a casserole changing some ingredients might add new flavours and textures to your meals.

In many recipes, you can eliminate some components or reduce the amount you use. Here are the examples of possible adaptations that you can try for your existing recipes:

  • Toppings. Refrain from toppings that you usually add out of habit or for better appearance, such as whipped cream, frosting, or coconut. These products are all rich in fat and calories that you can easily avoid;
  • Dressings. Cut down on condiments, such as butter, mayonnaise, syrup, jelly, and mustard, as well as the pickles, olives, which can include large amounts of salt, sugar, fat, and calories. Replace these components with fresh condiments such as cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, fresh berries, non-fat or reduced-fat spreads. If you prefer to use soy sauce, opt for low-sodium one and add it in a smaller amount than a recipe calls for to diminish the amount of consumed salt;
  • Cheese. Using less cheese provides any dish with an easy and healthy upgrade. If a method requires one cup of cheddar cheese, make sure to use 1/2 cup instead. Also, choose bold-flavoured cheeses, such as extra-sharp Cheddar, goat cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, to improve flavour yet reduce calories and fat.

Additionally, try out adding your CBD oil to beverages, salads, desserts, or other recipes of your choice to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. Drip 1-2 drops of oil to spice up your cooking experience and add wellness benefits into a nutrition system. Such oil intake is a simple way to consume the needed daily CBD dosage, and enjoy mealtime while improving sleep, reducing anxiety, and stress.

Keep Portions Reasonable

Foods in high amounts often lead to overeating and increased calories, even if you eat healthy meals. However, you don't have to count every bite you put in the mouth, but understanding healthy portions before you heap onto your plate can prevent you from eating more than you intended. 

No matter what ingredients and how much you reduce, switch, or eliminate, some dishes might still be high in sugar, fat, or salt. You can still enjoy them by eating in small amounts.

Be sure to eat from smaller plates, which makes the portion size look bigger, allowing you to trick your brain into thinking that you are eating more, and decrease the chance of overeating.

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