There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal… that is, until you look at the lengthy recipe and realize that it’s not quite what it seemed. Everything from exorbitant amounts of sugar to high-fat oil and dairy can take your well-intentioned dinner to an unhealthy place. That is, until you realize just how easy it is to make swaps to save even the most indulgent of recipes. Need further proof? The following four recipe categories — everyday, traditional, elegant and fun — each include several healthy versions of recipes that you already love, as well as tips as to how you can spruce up your own.
Here’s one for your kiddos: chicken tenders. They’re so yummy because they’re typically deep-fried in oil; then, you and your family might slather them in some type of sauce that hides hidden sugar, like ketchup, or a high-fat option, like ranch. Fortunately, in your own kitchen, you can take control of how your chicken tenders are made. Rather than heating any oil, pre-heat in order to tackle this oven-based recipe. That way, your tenders won’t be drenched and infused with unhealthy oils that can cause heart disease and cancer, two of the many side effects of a diet that regularly includes deep-fried foods.
We often think of traditional meals as being heavy: full-fat dairy, fatty cuts of meat, oils… the list goes on. Fortunately, though, it’s easy to make swaps in order to enjoy your old-school dinners without the modern-day guilt.
Take, for example, any one of these very traditional Amish recipes. The hearty beef and noodles recipe is healthy at its core, but can use a bit of sprucing up as far as its health-consciousness is concerned. Though it calls for egg noodles, you could easily swap in whole-wheat pasta, which typically has fewer calories and more fiber than traditional pastas. You could also be sure to select a lean cut of beef so that you aren’t eating any added fat. Those simple swaps make this meal health-friendly in no time.
There’s sophisticated appetizers, and then there’s fondue. The bubbling, hot bowls of cheese beg you to dip just about anything: fruits, vegetables, breads, meats. Unfortunately, the “hot-bowl-of-bubbling-cheese” part doesn’t seem to fall in line with a healthy, simple idea for your next dinner or cocktail party.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make your fondue a bit easier on the waistline. For starters, you could swap out full-fat for low- or reduced-fat cuts of cheese. Often times, these selections have just as much flavor without the added grams of fat. To that end, you can add low- or no-calorie flavor by spicing your low-fat cheese base with the right combination of herbs and spices.
Fondues also require you to provide dippers so that you and your guests can sample each cheese variety in an even more savory way. Since you’re in control, you can once again swap out high-fat or high-carb options for things like veggie sticks, mushrooms, whole-wheat bread and crackers. There’s no shortage of low-fat fondue recipes out there to help you if you don’t have a recipe ready to alter.
What’s more fun — and in need of a healthy overhaul — than dessert? So many of us have a sweet tooth that can derail efforts to eat healthy, no matter how strong they are. That’s probably why so many pioneering chefs, bloggers and everyday sweets aficionados have taken it upon themselves to create healthier versions of the majority of the world’s favorite desserts.
One of the best ways to make your next dessert healthier is to find an alternative to sugar. Natural sweeteners like stevia and agave pack a lot more sweetness into each drop or granule, which means you can use less. To that end, experts also suggest cutting the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. If you think the lack of sweetness will affect the recipe’s flavor, give your recipe an edge with sweet-tasting-yet-sugar-free spices like cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Not every recipe has your best interests at heart, which means it could be up to you to make the right swaps; however, the end result will be well worth your time and effort. Now, get into the kitchen and start experimenting: you never know what you’ll come up with until you try.
About the Author
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.” Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.
The Drifter Collective: An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Connect with Kacey on Twitter @kacey_mya and onPinterest (@kaceymya).