A Smart Step to Eating Better: Cook at Home More Often
Dietitians of Canada’s latest cookbook Cook! edited by registered dietitian Mary Sue Waisman is destined to become one of your favorites! This book combines healthy cooking with ‘deliciousness’ to help you (no matter where you live) prepare and eat healthy food.
When choosing healthy recipes at home, aim to choose recipes with ingredients that have lots of nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, legumes, lower fat milk products, and healthy oils like canola, olive, sunflower or corn, etc.
Here are some extra helpful hints about what to look for in a healthy recipe:
√ Choose recipes with whole grain flours like wheat, buckwheat, Kamut, spelt or rye, or other whole grains such as oatmeal or cornmeal.
√ Salt, baking soda and baking powder all contain plenty of sodium. Per teaspoon, salt provides 2,300 milligrams of sodium, while baking soda provides 1,300 mg and double acting baking powder provides 400 mg. Keep this in mind to help you make healthier choices when you choose your baked goods recipes.
√ Choose muffins and quick breads with no more than 1/3 cup (75 mL) added fat (butter, non-hydrogenated margarine or oil) for 12 portions. Choose those with limited amounts of higher fat ingredients such as chocolate chips. Use nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc) and seeds (sunflower and sesame) in moderation; they are higher fat choices, but contain the healthy type of fat. Seek out muffins and quick breads made with lower fat buttermilk; it adds moisture and richness to items along with nutrients like protein and calcium.
√ If you’re craving your favorite cake, pie or scone and you know it’s not the healthiest option, enjoy a small piece guilt free. Moderation is a key factor in maintaining a healthy diet!
Appetizers and Soups:
√ Look for dips made with yogurt or lower fat sour cream or mayonnaise instead of regular fat options.
√ Look for soups that are clear or broth based, using homemade meat or vegetable stock, lower sodium broth or water as the base. For cream soups, look for those that use lower fat milk, evaporated milk or puréed legumes or rice to achieve creaminess. Try making your own soup by using healthier lower fat ingredients to warm you up on chiklly spring days.
√ Try chilled soups that feature fruits or vegetables as the star ingredient.
Pasta and Pizza:
√ Canned tomato products can contain lots of sodium; look at the label when you purchase these products and use ones with lower levels of sodium in your recipes.
√ Add cheese in moderation. While cheese contains ample amounts of protein, calcium and other nutrients, most also come with a lot of fat. Smaller amounts of stronger tasting cheese like Asiago, old Cheddar or Parmesan will give you more flavor than milder cheeses like mozzarella.
Meat and Alternative Entrees:
√ Spice it up! Several world cuisines season their food with lots of herbs and spices instead of oils, butter or salt. Lucky for us, Canadians have many of these seasonings readily available. For example, Thai dishes use hot chilies, lime juice, garlic and ginger. But watch for the high salt condiments like fish sauce. Mediterranean cuisines rely on garlic, lemon, tomatoes, basil and oregano for seasoning. Be mindful of any added oil, olives or anchovies, which can add fat or salt. Asian cuisine features plenty of vegetables in stir-fries, however many of the sauces used are high in sodium. Make sure to choose sodium-reduced soy sauce and use small amounts of salty sauces or condiments when eating this cuisine.
√ Chose the lean choice! Choose recipes that use lean cuts like round, sirloin or tenderloin. Choose lean or extra lean ground beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey too.
√ Focus on fat friendly cooking! Choose recipes that feature baking, roasting, broiling, grilling, stewing, braising, poaching or steaming and forego those that are deep fried. Drain cooked ground meats of fat before adding into recipes.
√ Vegetarian is no exception to the rules! Just because it’s a vegetarian dish, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily lower in fat or sodium. The same suggestions from above apply to vegetarian cooking.