We’re one month into the New Year, and have you thought about eating a little bit healthier this year? It’s something that shows up on the top of a lot of resolution lists, and quickly gets discarded. We’re going to give you a few tips to help get you started. Nothing drastic and nothing scary, just some easy stuff you might never have thought of before.
Here are some very basics:
- Use whole-wheat flour whenever you can, in place of white flour.
- Greek yogurt works in place of sour cream. You want to buy the all-natural kind.
- Ground turkey works in place of red meat for just about anything.
- Oatmeal will make healthier meatballs and meatloaf than breadcrumbs will.
- Instead of salt, use citrus juice or herbs that you like. Life shouldn’t be a salt lick.
- Steam instead of boil. It saves nutrients.
- Brown rice or wild rice is healthier than white. You can try bulgur, too.
- When you’re baking you can reduce the amount of sugar you’re using by adding vanilla or cinnamon or nutmeg. Or apple sauce. Make sure that you buy the unsweetened kind and you can use it in a lot of baking recipes. You can use it in place of butter and your creation will remain moist and delicious. Applesauce will also substitute for eggs. Go figure, and don’t tell the chickens. The ratio of applesauce to butter is one to one: if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter, simply sub in 1/2 cup of applesauce. For every large egg a recipe requires, use1/4 cup of applesauce in its place.
- Instead of bacon you can try turkey bacon or Canadian bacon. They’re both good, but try not to eat bacon too often. It’s sort of a classic “no-no”.
- Don’t butter your pans! Use cooking spray or non-stick pans...unless you’re in a French cooking competition.
- Cottage cheese isn’t just for diets, if that’s what you were thinking. Read the label and make sure you’re getting the low-fat kind, then you can use it in place of sour cream on a baked potato, or instead of ricotta cheese in lasagna, or when you bake a cheesecake, or with any kind of fruit for a fruit salad, or on some whole wheat toast with jam on top, or you can drizzle it with honey and cinnamon and stick a cherry on top for dessert! You can also use it to thicken a sauce without having to add butter and flour. The bonus is that it’s packed with protein.
- At some point in time butter became the enemy. During the 1970s people blamed it for everything and then ran to margarine. When margarine turned out to be not the world’s best choice, people ran back to butter because, well, you can’t beat the flavor of butter, as long as it’s the real thing. But how to use less of it? You can use butter along with olive oil or canola oil or peanut oil when you’re cooking. When it comes time to “butter” the bread or muffin or bagel, how about cream cheese instead? Or unsweetened jam or jelly? Or the all-time favorite peanut butter.
- What about that olive oil? First off, you want it to be EVO. That’s not a brand name. It stands for extra-virgin olive oil. If the bottle doesn’t say “extra-virgin” it won’t have all the antioxidants that you’re looking for. It’s the staple of the famous Mediterranean diet which just about everyone agrees is the best for your heart. What you do have to know is that the taste and price vary drastically. Ideally, you’d like to buy the highest quality that you can afford. What you might not know about olive oil is that it comes in flavors! You can buy it flavored with basil or garlic or bacon (!) or chipotle... the list goes on. You can learn how to flavor or “infuse” your own, too. It just takes a little imagination. There might even be a store in your town that will swamp you with choices and ideas.
These really are just some of the easy basics. A lot of good things start with baby steps. Check back with us and read about healthy grilling and lots of things to make your life better!
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