Lisa Akly, RD
Palmetto Health Cardiac Rehabilitation
You don’t have to purchase new cookbooks to create delicious, heart healthy recipes your whole family will love. There are plenty of low-fat, low-calorie options for making your comforting family favorites more heart healthy right now. Just one or more changes can make a huge difference.
- Lessen the fat: Try cutting back on the amount of oil, shortening or butter, in a recipe by half the amount listed. Instead of cream or half-and-half, try 1 percent milk or skim milk. Evaporated skim milk may be used for a creamier consistency. There also is low-fat and fat-free half-and-half options available. You usually can reduce the amount of cheese in a recipe by half. Reduced-fat cheese varieties also are an option. Sharp cheddar and parmesan cheeses are examples of cheeses with stronger flavors that may allow you to obtain the taste you desire with a smaller amount.
- Lower the salt: Think flavor! There are many options for lowering the salt in recipes. Add flavor with citrus juices, vinegars, garlic, onion or pepper. There is an abundance of herbs and spices available and no-salt seasoning blends with delicious combinations put together for you. Have you ever zested a citrus fruit? The colorful peel of a lemon, orange or lime has so much flavor perfect for all kinds of dishes.
- Reduce the added sugar: White sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses and syrups are all examples of added sugar ingredients recipes may call for. You often can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half to one-third. Using a sugar substitute suitable for cooking in moderation may also be an option to save on calories. Spices like cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg may enhance the sweetness in a recipe allowing for less sugar.
- Remember those fruits and veggies: Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients and can be a perfect addition in various recipes. Use pureed fruit, such as applesauce, in place of some of the butter or oil in a baked recipe. Enhance spaghetti sauce with carrots, mushrooms or peppers. Include broccoli in your favorite pasta or rice dish. Explore different cooking methods for veggies. Try roasting squash, sweet potatoes, onions and zucchini for a tasty side dish. Steaming is an option for getting a vegetable to your table quickly.
- Go for whole grains: Whole grains are a rich source of fiber and contain an assortment of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Wheat, oats, brown rice, wild rice and quinoa are just some of the wealth of whole grains available. To be considered a “whole grain” it must contain all essential parts of a kernel of grain. Check the first ingredient on your packaged foods for “whole grain.” Use wheat noodles in your favorite pasta dish. Try brown rice in your casserole. Experiment with a new side dish featuring wild rice or quinoa.
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