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Monday
Apr112011

Recipe Remix

Recipes provide much needed guidance, but we don’t have to follow all the rules.   We can alter recipes and make substitutions to make our food healthier and taste better!  Making alterations to your recipes can be fun - experiment with seasonings, replace chicken with chickpeas or tofu, or try quinoa instead of rice.

Recipe remix #1: Lean out the meat

Buying fresh and choosing leaner meats to start with is always good, but even a chicken breast has some fat that can be trimmed.  Chop any visible fat off meat to cut down on calories and saturated fat.  Removing the skin on poultry is also a very good way of reducing fat and cholesterol in your diet. The leaner cuts of red meat include round roast, outside round roast, eye of round steak or roast, strip loin steak, sirloin steak, rump roast, and lean and extra lean ground meat or ground poultry. Tenderize, roast, or stew leaner cuts of meat to keep it tender.  If you are feeling adventurous, try replacing meat in your recipe with beans, lentils, or tofu to eliminate saturated fat from your recipe altogether.  Beans, lentils, and (low-sodium) soy products are good protein sources and better for you. 

Recipe remix #2: You can shake it, but don’t shake the salt

A diet high in sodium (salt) puts you at risk for high blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease.  So, we all need to pay attention to salt in our diet!  Limiting sodium can be a challenge because our environment is packed with the stuff.  We know chips, soups, and deli meats are high-sodium items, but so are cakes, cookies, and other baked goods, as well as many other processed foods.  One Starbucks muffin has 14% of our daily sodium limit and one serving of Kraft salad dressing has 15% of our daily limit.  A meal out at any restaurant can easily have 2000mg sodium, exceeding our daily need in one go! So eating at home more often will do your heart some good.  Try omitting salt from your recipes or at the least, cut it down by half.  Create your own blend of spices or try Mrs. Dash® to replace the salt.  Make your own sauces with garlic and ginger and a simple salad dressing with oil and vinegar is always good. 

Recipe remix #3: Cut the fat

For a recipe that uses butter or hard margarine, replace it with vegetable oil or a soft margarine.  If cooking at higher temperatures some oils are better than others.  Sunflower, canola, peanut, safflower, and corn oil have higher smoke points and are better than olive oil for high-temperature cooking.  Also try to cut down on the fat used in recipes.  Aim for no more than 1-2tsp of added fat at any meal (including the fat in sauces, dressings, or spreads). 

Recipe remix #4: Out with the plain, in with the grain

Fibre keeps us regular and controls blood sugar.  It makes us feel full and helps reduce cholesterol.  So why ever, did we want to remove that multi-functional outer-layer from our favorite grains?  Leave out plain pasta, white rice, and white bread, and use whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole grain breads, and experiment with kamut, spelt, wheat berries, quinoa, bulgar, and amaranth.   Each whole grain has something unique to offer: kamut is chewy, brown rice has a nutty flavor, and quinoa is light and fluffy.

Recipe remix #5: Add color, variety, and nutrients with more vegetables

Vegetables are colorful, flavorful, and nutrient packed.  The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in vegetables will keep your immune system strong and help you look and feel healthy.  Most recipes have room for more vegetables, whether it’s a casserole, stir-fry, lasagna, or roast.  Try doubling the vegetable portions or add in something different.  Get the kids involved and ask them to pick out a new vegetable at the grocery store.  Add the new vegetable to a favorite recipe and watch the whole family enjoy more vegetables!

Now have some fun with your usual recipes – try replacing meat with beans or tofu, using a blend of seasonings, including different whole grains, and adding pizzazz with more vegetables!

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