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Healthy Substitutions in Cooking

By: Caley Walsh

You can easily modify most recipes to make them healthier when you are watching your weight. These simple substitutions lower the fat and overall calories in your meal. These substitutions are an important diet tool.

Oil and Butter- Soybean, olive, sunflower and sesame oils are better for you than others with saturated fat. To cut fat in baked goods, replace oil with an equal amount of smooth applesauce or pureed prunes for chocolate products. Baby food prunes work well for this purpose. Prunes will maintain the color of chocolate baked goods, keep the item moist and will sneak a bit more fruit in your diet. This is a great trick for kids! For a moister result, use a combination ½ buttermilk and ½ applesauce to replace oil or butter in a recipe.

Eggs- Eggs pack quite a few calories, fat and cholesterol. Substitute two egg whites or ¼ cup egg replacement for every whole egg in a recipe. You can make your own egg replacement by beating together 6 egg whites with 1 tsp. oil (see above), ¼ cup nonfat powdered milk and 6 drops of yellow food coloring (optional). This mixture will keep in the fridge for one week.

Cheese- Replace fattening cheese in recipes with skim milk cheese whenever possible. In casseroles, replace 1 cup of regular cheese with a mixture of ½ cup of cottage cheese and ½ cup reduced fat cheese.

Cream- Substitute evaporated skim milk for heavy cream in recipes. Use pureed, cooked potato to thicken soups instead of cream. To make a healthy “sour cream,” mix together ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ teaspoon lemon juice, or simply use natural yogurt. Make a non-fat whipped cream by beating together ¼ cup water and ¼ fat-free milk powder until thick, then adding ¼ teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon lemon juice and ¼ cup sugar.

Meat- Meat is the biggest source of calories in any meal. Go vegetarian more often and try replacing a meat with satisfying vegetables such as mushrooms, lentils or beans. Fish is also very low in fat and full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. When you do have meat, select lean varieties, such as “loins” (pork tenderloin has the same fat percentage as chicken breast for example).

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