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6 Easy Tips for Preparing Healthier Meals

Here are six easy ways to cut calories in the kitchen. There is no need for strict diets once you learn to cook healthy, flavorful meals at home.

Tip #1 - Toss Out the Heavy Cream

Cream and butter based sauces, found in Alfredo and macaroni and cheese, are comfort foods that you do not have to give up. You simply need to know how to substitute lower fat options when cooking them. Heavy cream helps thicken Alfredo and other creamy sauces to the mouth-watering consistency and richness that we all know and love.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

You can achieve the same creamy texture of heavy cream by whisking 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of low-fat milk with 2 tablespoons (20 ml) flour in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat and it will continue to thicken.

A one cup (250 ml) serving of this low-fat cream substitute shaves off nearly 700 calories from your meal. Use the same method to thicken any cheese sauces instead of cream for the same lower calorie results.

Tip #2 Less Oil, More Flavor

The more oil you put in the frying pan, the more calories are going to come out with your food. Even high-quality healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil add hundreds of calories when used to sauté meats and vegetables. Enamel-coated, nonstick and cast iron frying pans reduce the amount of oil you need to cook over the stove. When you sauté vegetables, try using just a small amount of oil and stir for a few minutes over medium heat. Then add the juice of one lemon or a few dashes of low-sodium soy sauce, cover and let veggies steam another minute or two until done.

Crispy Oven Fried Onion Rings

Tip #3 Replace Fatty Fried Foods with Crispy Baked Goodness

Instead of deep-frying chicken, try this low-fat alternative that still gives you the satisfying crunch of fried food. Dip chicken in a bowl of whisked egg and a little milk. Then dredge it in seasoned bread crumbs and bake on a wire rack set over a baking sheet at 218-233 degrees C (425 to 450 degrees F) until done. Use the same method to oven “fry” fish and vegetables.  A great example of this technique is in our own Crispy Oven Fried Onion Rings recipe pictured to the right.

Tip #4 Season with Less Salt

Keeping sodium intake low without losing the flavor can be difficult, but it is possible. Use more dried and fresh herbs to season your meals like garlic and powder, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper. The more flavorful your meal is, the less likely you are to go for the salt shaker. Be aware of the high sodium content in many canned soups and vegetables that already have salt added to the ingredients.

Whole wheat ginger blueberry muffins

Tip#5 Use Whole Wheat Flour

Refined white flour lacks the B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and fiber found in whole-wheat flour. Use whole-wheat flour, or the lighter whole-wheat white flour, for home baked goods like muffins, breads and even cookies. Always try to purchase whole-wheat instead of white pasta and bread from the store to make quick home cooked meals more nutritious.

Tip #6 Choose the Right Drinks

Stay away from soda pop and other drinks loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and added sugars. Even a glass or two a day will add hundreds of empty calories. Instead, opt for lemon water or unsweetened teas. If you are craving carbonation with your meal, add a splash of orange, grape, cranberry, or any other juice to a glass of club soda for added flavor.


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