Let’s face it – it’s a new era where some of us have basic cooking skills, and some of us don’t. It’s not our fault really – it depends on how we were raised and other factors (We all have strengths and weaknesses right?).
Try these ideas to make some of your favorite recipes a little healthier.
- Blend a handful of spinach or kale into a fruit smoothie
- Mash cooked cauliflower together with potatoes
- Add puréed butternut squash to homemade macaroni and cheese
- Shred carrots, zucchini or onions into spaghetti sauce
- Stir canned puréed pumpkin into whole grain pancake or muffin batter
- Sprinkle berries onto breakfast cereal or yogurt
Balance your baking with simple swaps.
There are lots of tasty ways to make your baking a little bit healthier. Experiment by using these simple substitutions in your favourite baked goods:
- Replace at least half of the enriched white flour (if you normally use white flour) with a healhier type of flour (e.g., whole grain, coconut, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, oat, etc.)
- Replace a quarter or more of the sugar with a healthier alternative (e.g., stevia, truvia, agave nectar, honey, skim milk powder)
- Replace half of the fat in muffins, quick breads and cookies with mashed fruit or vegetables, such as unsweetened applesauce or puréed sweet potato
- Use milk (regular, almond, coconut, etc.) instead of water
Get delicious results with good-for-you ingredients.
Cooking at home lets you control the taste, nutrition and cost of your meals. Try these simple swaps to fill homemade food with flavour:
- Use whole milk (or another milk alternative) and cream cheese instead of cream and butter for a luscious pasta Alfredo
- Substitute greek yogurt for mayonnaise to make a creamy salad dressing
- Sweeten whole grain hot cereal/oatmeal with fruit, such as bananas, apples or peaches, instead of sugar
- Use lemon juice, garlic, herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour savoury dishes
Add some zing!
Think healthy cooking is bland? Healthy cooking is all about good taste. Add some zing with these mouth-watering flavor boosters:
- Garlic is perfect for pasta, potatoes and peas, and it makes a tofu-and-veggie stir-fry’s much more flavorful
- Fresh lime juice is a tangy addition to fish, avocado or fresh tomato salsa
- Red pepper flakes deliver delicious heat to lightly sautéed greens
- Ginger spices up butternut squash soup and adds depth to beef and pork dishes
- Cinnamon pairs sweetly with apples, squash and sweet potatoes
- There are many more ‘cooking basics’, these are just a few tips.
- Please keep in mind that people have varied skills and habits when it comes to food. As a nutritionist I meet people with all different levels of cooking skills, and many use white flour, sugar, etc. all of the time, so for many people cutting out half of what they use would be a step in the right direction.
Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)
Official NEM Nutritionist
For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways.