14 Short­cuts to a Health­ier Meal

Small cook­ing changes can make a big dif­fer­ence to your diet. Try these easy, prac­ti­cal tweaks.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Life Made Easy Health - The Big­gest Loser.

S ure, you can just buy a meal from a hawker cen­tre or eat out, but if you re­ally want to eat more healthily and save money, get chop­ping, stir­ring and saute­ing. “With home cook­ing, you know what’s in it, you can ad­just it to taste and it’s a good way to keep your por­tions un­der con­trol,” says JoAnn Cian­ci­ulli, food-TV pro­ducer and au­thor of L.A.’s Orig­i­nal Farm­ers Mar­ket Cook­book.

To help you jam-pack your meals with bet­ter-for-you fuel, chefs, blog­gers, di­eti­tians and other food­ies share their health­i­est cook­ing tips.

CUT THE CHEESE. To re­duce a recipe’s sat­u­rated fat and calo­ries, for­get swop­ping in low-fat or non­fat cheese. In­stead, “cut the amount of cheese a recipe calls for in half and use a sharper cheese that’s nat­u­rally low-fat, such as parme­san, ro­mano, asi­ago or manchego, to in­ten­sify the avour,” says chef Jonas Falk.


POTA­TOES. “Re­place some of the pota­toes with steamed cau­li­flower, for a lighter tex­ture, a boost of nu­tri­ents and fewer calo­ries,” says di­eti­tian Natalia Stasenko.

TRY THIS THICK­EN­ING TRICK. “Use pureed chick­peas or white beans

to thicken soups and sauces rather than our and but­ter,” says Amanda Skrip, a nat­u­ral-foods chef and health coach.


In recipes that call for ba­con, such as quiche, sub­sti­tute it with smoked Span­ish pa­prika or chipo­tle pow­der (add it when you’re saute­ing the onions and other in­gre­di­ents). “You’ll get the smoky avour with­out the calo­ries and sat­u­rated fat,” JoAnn says.

Use plain, low­fat or fat-free Greek yo­gurt in­stead for just about any recipe (dips, sauces, dol­lops on a baked potato or na­chos) that calls for sour cream, sav­ing 45 calo­ries in each two-ta­ble­spoon serv­ing. Greek yo­gurt, with its creamy tex­ture and tangy taste, mim­ics sour cream with lit­tle or no fat and as much as 50 per cent more pro­tein. “You’ll never know the dif­fer­ence,” says di­eti­tian Rene Ficek.


“It’s a healthy sub­sti­tute for but­tery, salty sauces or sug­ary bar­be­cue sauce,” says Rene. Bring bal­samic vine­gar to the boil, then sim­mer un­til it’s re­duced by half (about 20 min­utes). Add a ta­ble­spoon or two of fruit-in­fused avoured vine­gar for an ad­di­tional layer of avour, such as straw­berry vine­gar for chicken.

“When you’re mak­ing whipped cream, use one cup skimmed milk plus one ta­ble­spoon corn­starch in­stead of heavy cream to re­duce sat­u­rated fat,” says di­eti­tian Jenna Allen.


With recipes for desserts like cook­ies, “cut the sugar in half and add orange or lemon zest or a tea­spoon of vanilla, hazel­nut, rum, caramel or almond ex­tract,” says Jennifer Iser­loh, chef and owner of skin­ny­chef.com.

Zest can em­u­late sweet­ness and halv­ing the amount of sugar won’t change a recipe’s tex­ture. At 16 calo­ries in each ta­ble­spoon of sugar, you’ll save 256 calo­ries per omit­ted cup. “You’ll put any dessert recipe on an in­stant diet,” Jennifer says.

While pre­par­ing meals, stop and look at the recipe and think, how can I make this meal health­ier? “Pick one thing; it could be to add a veg­etable, in­crease pro­tein, use a leaner meat or switch from a re­fined grain like white rice to a whole­grain like quinoa,” says Dr Sa­man­tha Brody, a natur­o­pathic physi­cian.


The next time you’re mak­ing tomato sauce for pasta, lasagne or meatballs, give it a nu­tri­ent and bre boost by adding pureed white beans, frozen spinach, nely chopped mush­rooms and pureed zuc­chini, Natalia says.


For­get us­ing ap­ple sauce, pureed prunes or mashed ba­nanas in­stead of but­ter in bak­ing. Just use but­ter. “You don’t want but­ter in ev­ery as­pect of your meal, but it’s okay to re­serve it for dessert,” says Kristy Lam­brou, a culi­nary nu­tri­tion­ist. “Dessert should taste like dessert.” Onions – a de­cent source of quercetin, which helps keep blood pres­sure low – are a recipe staple. “Save time and money by pre-chop­ping onions and freez­ing them in a sealed plas­tic bag. You can pull them out when­ever you need them to get cook­ing right away with­out fuss or tears,” says Jennifer Fugo, a cer­ti­fied gluten-free health coach.


Don’t rinse raw chicken be­fore cook­ing. “Bac­te­ria on it can be splashed around your kitchen, po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nat­ing other foods that don’t get cooked, such as fresh pro­duce,” says Dr David Ach­e­son, a food-safety ex­pert.

Any po­ten­tially harm­ful bac­te­ria on chicken will be de­stroyed dur­ing cook­ing any­way. Poul­try can go from pack­age to bak­ing dish, pan or grill. The same goes for beef, pork and sh.

Sim­i­larly, con­sider pre-washed, ready-to-eat let­tuce good to go. But do rinse all other pro­duce. “Any­thing that comes from a eld that isn’t pre-washed should be washed, in­clud­ing heads of ice­berg let­tuce and whole can­taloupe,” Dr Ach­e­son says.


For­get bot­tled salad dress­ing, with its long list of iffy in­gre­di­ents. Make your own with lemon or lime juice or ap­ple cider, red wine or bal­samic vine­gar and olive oil. “An acidic in­gre­di­ent like lemon juice or vine­gar helps the body ab­sorb the iron and min­er­als in greens while the oil al­lows us to ab­sorb fat-sol­u­ble com­pounds, such as vi­ta­mins and an­tiox­i­dants,” says di­eti­tian Ali Miller, who is also a certied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor.

To curb salad calo­ries, “chop let­tuce and vegeta­bles nely. The small pieces will meld, cre­at­ing a avour ex­plo­sion in your mouth and you’ll need less dress­ing,” says Devin Alexan­der, au­thor of The Most Deca­dent Diet Ever! and chef on the tele­vi­sion show

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