Tag Archives: Cooking

15 Tips for Healthy Cooking at Home

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many ways to make small changes toward a healthier eating style.

 

Simple swaps can make at-home dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor:

  1. Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
  2. Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese.
  3. Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar.
  4. Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins.
  5. Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.
  6. Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt.
  7. Liven up your family meals by trying new spices.
  8. Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork.
  9. Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.
  10. Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens.
  11. Marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling.
  12. Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams.
  13. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  14. Include protein, such as lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans, and whole grains on the other half of your plate.
  15. With each meal, add calcium-rich foods such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages.

And remember, healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures. Find out more about ethnic foods for a healthy plate at EatRight.org.

Source: ChooseMyPlate.gov

Tips for cooking healthier at home during National Nutrition Month®!

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

There are many ways to make small changes toward a healthier eating style. Simple swaps can make dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor:

  • Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
  • Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese.
  • Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins.
  • Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.
  • Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Liven up your family meals by trying new spices.
  • Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork.
  • Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.
  • Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens.
  • Marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling.
  • Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams.

Follow these Healthy Plate guidelines:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Include protein, such as lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans, and whole grains on the other half of your plate.
  • With each meal, add calcium-rich foods such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages.

And remember, healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures.

Find out more about ethnic foods for a healthy plate at EatRight.org

Visit EatRight.org for more on how to celebrate National Nutrition Month.

Sources: EatRight.org; EatRight.org

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

March is National Nutrition Month! Discover new and exciting tastes while trimming salt from your cooking. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to experiment with new combinations of herbs and spices as you “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”

You have likely heard the advice to use less salt and more herbs and spices in your cooking. But how do you know which ones to use and when? First, lets talk about the difference between herbs and spices.

  • Herbs grow in mild climates and are the fragrant leaves of plants. Basic herbs to keep on hand: Basil, oregano, garlic, thyme, chives, and rosemary
  • Spices grow in tropical areas and come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, and stems of plants and trees. Basic spices to keep on hand: Cumin, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder

Be prepared, this will take some trial and error in the kitchen. If you are concerned about an overwhelming flavor, start with small amounts, taste test, and add more as needed. Once you have mastered the basics, explore new flavors with curry powder, turmeric, clove, and bay leaf.

To decide which herbs and spices will go with your dish, think about the cuisine. These are some popular ethnic cuisines and the flavors associated with them:

  • China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
  • France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
  • Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
  • Hungary: Onion, paprika
  • India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
  • Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
  • Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
  • Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
  • Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
  • West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili.

Try these salt-free seasoning blends. Combine ingredients and store in a tightly covered jar. Rub or sprinkle them on food for added flavor.

Mixed herb blend: Mix together ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried tarragon, and 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano, dill weed, and celery flakes.

Italian blend: Mix together 2 tablespoons each of dried basil and dried marjoram, 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder and dried oregano, and 2 teaspoons each of thyme, crushed dried rosemary, and crushed red pepper.

Mexican blend: Mix together ¼ cup chili powder, 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin and onion powder, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, garlic powder, and ground red pepper, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

According to McCormick, which has been selling herbs and spices since 1889, today’s home cook is likely to keep at least 40 different seasonings on hand, whereas the typical 1950’s American homemaker relied on fewer than 10 spices. Whenever possible, buy spices in amounts that you can use within 12 months. To keep herbs and spices at their peak of flavor and nutritional potency steer clear of that wooden rack next to the stove. Spices should be kept away from heat, moisture and light, and they are best stored in a cool, dark cupboard in airtight containers.

 

Sources: EatRight.org and FoodandNutrition.org

 

Getting Kids in the Kitchen

Cooking with your kids is a good way to help them build healthy eating habits.

Get them interested
Most kids enjoy helping in the kitchen. While they help you cook, you can talk to them about healthy foods. Children like to eat food they make. This is a good way to get them to try new healthy foods.

Let them help
You can show your kids how to help you prepare meals. Here are ways that young kids can help in the kitchen:

2-year-olds can:

  • Wipe tabletops
  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Tear lettuce or greens
  • Break cauliflower or broccoli into pieces
  • Carry ingredients from one place to another

3-year-olds can:

  • Knead and shape dough
  • Mix or pour ingredients
  • Shake liquids in a covered container to mix them
  • Apply soft spreads
  • Put things in the trash

4-year-olds can:

  • Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs
  • Mash bananas or cooked beans with a fork
  • Cut parsley and green onions with kid-safe scissors
  • Set the table

5 to 6-year-olds can:

  • Measure ingredients
  • Use an egg beater

Be sure to have kids wash their hands before and after helping in the kitchen. Be patient with spills and mistakes. Remember that the goal is to help your kids learn about healthy eating.

Let them be creative
Set out three or four healthy foods, and let your kids make a new snack or sandwich from them. Use foods your children can eat without choking.

Start with:

  • A new kind of bread (whole grain or rye)
  • Whole grain crackers or graham crackers
  • Mini rice cakes or popcorn cakes
  • Small bagels
  • Small pieces of whole-wheat pita bread

Spreads could include:

  • Fat-free or low-fat cream cheese or cheese spread
  • Fat-free or low-fat peanut butter
  • Bean dip
  • Jelly with no sugar added

Toppings could include:

  • Slices of apple or banana
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Slices of cucumber or squash
  • Cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces

As you help your kids make the new snack or sandwich talk about why it is healthy. Point out each food group in the snack or sandwich. Explain that eating a mix of foods is good for you. Ask why the snack or sandwich tastes good. Is it sweet, juicy, chewy, or crunchy?

Source: We Can!; Getting Kids in the Kitchen

Cooking Tips for One

It can be tricky when cooking for one (or even two) to make the most of your ingredients and to minimize dishes — particularly when many recipes focus on making a meal for a family and serve four to six people. But just because you have a smaller household doesn’t mean you should abandon the kitchen for takeout.

“The best part of cooking for one is that there are no worries about what anyone else wants for dinner. You have the flexibility to enjoy beans with salsa and avocado or a quick omelet with veggies for dinner if you want,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD.

The first step to dinner-for-one success is to make cooking healthy meals a priority. Planning ahead and arming yourself with a few tips and tricks will put you on the path to triumph in the kitchen.

According to Moore, the best strategy when cooking for one is to become friends with your freezer. “Instead of scaling down, cook up full recipes: cook once, eat twice. Save time, money and clean up by freezing soups, chili, pasta dishes and extra vegetables,” she says. “Pull these ‘frozen meals’ out when you don’t feel like cooking or just need a quick meal.”

Here are more kitchen tips for one:

Grains

  • Cook a batch of whole grains such as brown rice or barley and freeze in individual portions using a muffin pan. Once frozen, the discs can be stored in a zip-top bag.
  • Have a six-pack of whole-grain English muffins or a whole loaf of bread? Tuck those extras into the freezer for another day; wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn.
  • Visit the bulk bins at your local health food and grocery stores. You can buy exactly what you need with no waste and it’s often less expensive per pound. In addition to grains, you can score a deal on dried herbs and spices as well as nuts, seeds and dried beans.

Veggies and Fruits

  • “If you’re not able to go food shopping a few days a week (most of us aren’t), embrace frozen produce,” says Moore. “Frozen produce can be just as nutritious as fresh and it’s there when you need it. Just choose options without added sauces and sugar.” Since they’re already chopped up, frozen fruits and veggies are ready to add to smoothies, soups and stir-fries. And because they’re frozen, there is no rush to use them before they spoil.
  • Bulk bags of fruits and veggies are only a better deal if you eat them before they spoil. Only buy what you can reasonably eat before the produce perishes: take extra grapes or cherries out of the bag and pare down that bunch of bananas to what you’ll eat.
  • “Be strategic. Enjoy your most perishable fresh produce like berries and spinach early in the week. Save heartier produce like cabbage, carrots and potatoes for meals later in the week,” suggests Moore.

Protein: Meat, Poultry, Eggs, Beans

  • Eggs can make a meal happen in a flash, anytime! They are an excellent source of protein and contain a bounty of nutrients such as vitamin D and choline. You can hard-boil a few on the weekend to have as an easy breakfast, snack or quick salad addition.
  • Buy a whole package of meat or poultry and wrap individual portions in freezer-safe paper; label each with the date and contents.
  • A potato masher can easily tame a can of pinto beans into delicious refried beans — a pinch of cumin, garlic and chili powder and you’re ready to eat!

Scrumptious Strata

Ingredients
2 whole eggs
¼ cup reduced-fat milk
1 slice whole-wheat bread, torn into small pieces
¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup diced onions (frozen is easiest)
¼ cup diced bell peppers (frozen is easiest)
1 pinch each of garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Spray an oven-safe glass dish with non-stick cooking spray and preheat oven or toaster oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add veggies, cheese and bread and toss to coat.
  3. Pour into prepared dish and bake for about 25 minutes, or until top is browned and knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cooking Note
This recipe is flexible — feel free to change the vegetables to what you have on hand. It is also easily doubled (or quadrupled) to serve more people.

Nutrition Information – Serves 1
Calories: 389; Calories from fat: 206; Total fat: 23g; Saturated fat: 11g; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 462mg; Sodium: 507mg; Total carbohydrate: 19g; Dietary fiber: 3g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 27g

Source: EatRight.org; Cooking Tips for One by Holly Larson, MS, RD