Nutrition Month 2014: Recipe Make-overs

If you haven’t yet, please check out my initial post on Nutrition Month 2014 found here: to give you some background information or visit

Healthy cooking doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Whether you are cooking an old family favourite that your grandma used to make or are trying out a brand new recipe, there are always ways to make recipes healthier (and tastier!). Whether you are using less fat or sugar, adding more fruits and vegetables or swapping refined grains out for whole grains, making your recipes healthier can be so simple!

1.      Reduce the total amount of fat used in a recipe

  • When a recipe calls for butter, margarine or shortening in cookies, muffins or quick breads:
    • Replace ½ of the fat called for with mashed fruit or vegetables such as unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana, or pureed pumpkin, squash or sweet potato
    • You can also usually reduce the overall amount of fat called for in a recipe by ¼ to ⅓ without the product quality being affected
    • Replace up to ¾ of the fat in yeast breads with ricotta cheese
  • When a recipe calls for eggs, use two egg whites or just under ¼ cup egg substitute for each whole egg
  • When a recipe calls for heavy cream in soups use 1% or 2% milk instead of cream and thicken soups using pureed potatoes, carrots, lentils or tofu
  • Use reduced fat (<20% MF) cheese or use stronger cheeses such as old cheddar, asiago or parmesan so that you can use less and still have a strong taste
  • Use a lower fat option whenever possible such as low fat cream cheese, sour cream, buttermilk or mayonnaise
  • Use extra lean ground beef and drain fat or substitute vegetarian ground round

2.      Reduce the total amount of sugar in a recipe

  • In all baking reduce the amount of sugar used in a recipe by ¼ -1/3
  • Replace sugar with Splenda granular sweetener
  • Instead of maple syrup use pureed fruit, yogurt or natural peanut butter
  • Reduce the amount of sugar you use in coffee beverages

3.      Reduce the amount of sodium in a recipe

  • Flavour your dishes with fresh or dried herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, chives or dill
  • Flavour your dishes with spices such as chili powder, cumin, curry powder, ground pepper, cinnamon, all-spice, ginger or nutmeg
  • Use a low-sodium option when available such as low-sodium soy sauce or soup broths
  • Rinse off canned vegetables and canned beans to reduce the amount of sodium on them
  • Use leftover prepared meat for sandwiches instead of deli meat
  • Red pepper flakes deliver delicious heat
  • Fresh lime juice adds a tangy addition to Mexican inspired dishes
  • Cinnamon pairs sweetly with apples, squash and sweet potatoes

4.      Ways to increase fibre

  • Replace at least ½ white flour used in baking recipes with whole wheat flour or use whole wheat pastry flour to replace all flour used in a recipe (it is a much lighter flour)
  • Replace up to ¼ of the flour in a recipe with ground flaxseed
  • Use a whole grain option when available such as brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain breadcrumbs, whole grain tortillas etc.
  • For fruits that have edible skins always leave skins on

5.      Add more vegetables and fruit

  • Add spinach or other leafy greens to your smoothies
  • Add vegetables to your usual chili or pasta sauce recipes
  • Sweeten whole grain hot cereal with fruits such as bananas, apples or peaches instead of sugar
  • Mash cooked cauliflower together with mashed potatoes
  • Add pureed butternut squash to homemade macaroni and cheese
  • Shred carrots, zucchini or onions into spaghetti sauce
  • Stir canned pureed pumpkin into whole grain pancake or muffin batter
  • Sprinkle berries onto breakfast cereal or yogurt




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