01. Use less fat.
To help you remember how to do this, there is what is known as the three R’s that you can memorize. These are remove, replace and reduce.
Remove: Sometimes you can completely eliminate a fatty ingredient without doing many harms to a recipe. Take sausage, for instance. If there are other flavors such as onions, spinach, mushrooms, garlic etc., there is a good chance you won’t miss the offensive ingredient.
Replace: If you cannot stand the thought of removing the sausage from a recipe, consider replacing it with turkey keilbasa. There are many good replacements for fatty products that do relatively little harm to a recipe. Learn what these are and try them out whenever you can.
Reduce: Neither of those suggestions good enough? Then consider reducing the amount of a fatty ingredient such as sausage. For instance, if you make Hamburger Helper, use one-half a pound of meat as opposed to an entire pound. It is just as good. You won’t miss the extra meat. Another way to reduce is to go to light versions of things if the non-fat doesn’t appeal to you. For example, many people cannot stand fat free mayonnaise so get the light instead.
02. Use “better” fat.
Use mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Canola was thought to be good oil, but there is now some controversy over the process used to make it. There is an ingredient used called “rapeseed” from Canada that some are saying can cause many adverse reactions, including cancer. I have not read of any concrete evidence as yet, but it never hurts to be careful. Stick with olive oil. For general baking and cooking usage, do not buy the extra light. That is misleading. It has just as much fat in it as regular olive oil. The extra light or virgin, as it is often called, merely means a change in the flavor of the olive oil; something you do not want. Watch food labels for saturated fats, too. Try to avoid them whenever you can.
03. Use less sugar in recipes.
Americans are now eating more sugar than ever. Cutting back on your sugar intake is a good idea for anyone. It would also mean less calories. According to a recent nationwide study done by the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans are eating an average of twenty teaspoons of sugar a day. The bulk of this sugar is coming from soft drinks, baked goods, candy, and frozen milk desserts. The USDA recommends that not more than 6% to 10% of your daily caloric intake be from sugar. That is the equivalent of about nine teaspoons.
04. Switch to whole grains.
Whole grains would include brown rice instead of white, and whole-wheat flour in recipes whenever possible. You can incorporate this easily into your recipes without harming flavor by dividing the amount of flour in any recipe and using half-whole wheat and half white. Whole grains have more nutrients, more fibers and more beta-carotene, all good stuff!
05. Add flaxseed when possible.
What is flaxseed? Flaxseed is a rich source of antioxidants, which protect healthy cells. It is also an excellent source of fiber. Now, what to do with it? You can add it to muffins, (low fat, please), stews, smoothies, shakes, breads and hot cereal. When adding it to muffins, decrease the amount of all-purpose flour by 1/4-cup and replace that 1/4-cup with the flaxseed. You can use a similar approach with bread recipes. For stews, soups and hot cereals use a good sprinkling of flaxseed. In smoothies, add about one to two tablespoons before blending. For some more information and recipes, see Flaxseed in the recipes section.
06. Add fruit and vegetables.
By adding fruits and vegetables to your recipes you’ll increase nutrients, fiber and betacarotene. Muffins are an excellent way to incorporate fruits. Pasta dishes are good for adding vegetables to. Some powerhouse fruits and vegetables to try incorporating into your recipes are cantaloupes, bananas, winter squash, oranges, grapes, berries of all kinds, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chard, spinach and tomatoes.
Whenever you prepare a dish you think you can add beans to, either in the recipe itself or as a side dish, do so. Beans add fiber and betacarotene plus there are a lot of choices with beans that are tasty and convenient. Canned and frozen beans are equally as good for you as fresh. See the Recipes section for more information and delicious bean recipes.
09. Use lean meat.
This is imperative. Look for the word “lean” on all the meat you buy. Leaner meats include chicken and turkey breasts, pork tenderloin, ground sirloin, center cut pork loin and extra lean ham. Try to limit servings to three to four ounces. Occasionally, try some vegetarian recipes. You may learn to like some and would be doing yourself a huge favor.
10. Don’t follow directions.
When using cake mixes or macaroni and cheese mixes, disregard the directions. If there is butter, use less or replace some of it with light or non-fat sour cream. For cake mixes, in place of oil, you can use liqueur, sherry, fruit juice, pureed fruit or crushed pineapple and fat free sour cream can be used as a substitute in brownie mixes. You can also divide the amount of oil, using half oil and half-unsweetened applesauce. You could replace all the oil with applesauce and many do, but I find this tampers with the consistency a bit too much. Just cutting the amount in half removes a lot of fat yet keeps the texture appetizing. Your body does need some fat, so it’s okay to use some here and there. Just keep in mind the word “moderation”.