Recipe Remakes
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Recipe Remakes

Sometimes making healthy changes is really hard, like skipping your favorite sweetened beverage several days a week or waking up 20 minutes early to exercise. And sometimes they are easy.  For example, modifying recipes can be a really simple and satisfying way to eat the foods you love while reducing the negative impact on your health.

Maintaining a healthy weight can be one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your overall health.  Success usually depends on making changes that are sustainable and satisfying.   There are so many ways to make your favorite recipes just a little bit healthier. Small changes and swaps can add up to big benefits.

From scratch
When you opt to make something at home, as opposed to buying a mix or fully prepared version of it off the shelf, you have a great chance of making it healthier. Packaged foods contain many preservatives and other ingredients you wouldn’t likely recognize in a line up. You will also likely find your home version far tastier, because it is fresher. For example, try making your own salad dressing to start and then look for other things you might be able to make yourself.

There are so many opportunities to “healthify” our baked goods. The results are every bit as delicious as the originals. Begin replacing some of the all-purpose flour with 100% whole wheat flour. You can also replace a portion of the fat in a recipe with applesauce. Another suggestion is to test your recipe with a portion of the butter replaced with olive oil.  If a recipe calls for melted butter, it’s pretty safe to use olive oil instead.  On the other hand, olive oil does not make for a great swap when the recipe calls for room temperature butter.   Often, the sugar in a recipe can be greatly reduced too.

Go gradual! Begin by replacing just a little of the less healthy ingredients with healthier ones. Slowly shift the ratio, so the change is not as abrupt. You’ll still get the healthy benefits in the long run. That’s better than turning yourself off with too big a change too soon.

When making dinner, opt to bake, rather than fry. Baked chicken tenders and oven-baked fries  (potatoes tossed in olive oil) along with a hearty helping of your favorite seasonal vegetable is a healthy and satisfying meal that feels like a fresher and healthier version of a fast-food favorite. I also find my Air Fryer to be a great time-saving kitchen gadget.

When making pasta, exchange white pasta for 100% whole wheat or chickpea or lentil pastas. Use lean meats, like fish or poultry, or plant-based proteins, like beans. Switch to low-fat or vegetable-based dairy. For instance, low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt makes a great swap for sour cream in many recipes. Reduce salt by using fresh or dried herbs and salt-free spices/seasonings.

Add extra vegetables to recipes, changing the ratio to favor the plant-based ingredients. Plants are filled with both fiber and water. This quality makes them very satisfying. They allow you to have the same filled-up feeling as a much heavier and less healthy meal.

If you usually put a few peppers and onions on your pizza, pile them on. Moderate the cheese a bit, and voila, you have a pizza that is super tasty and just a little healthier.

While these changes may feel unfamiliar at first, before long, you won’t think twice about making your pancakes from scratch with half 100% whole wheat flour or whipping up a simple and satisfying salad dressing yourself. Better yet, you will be feeling great making and eating food that supports your wellbeing.

Kristin Irace, RD, is a registered dietitian with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.


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