3 Ways to Make Unhealthy Meals Healthier

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There are many ways to trim up our favorite comfort foods so they are healthier and still taste delicious. By substituting healthier ingredients, you can reduce the amount of fat, calories and sodium by a third or even half. Here are some simple tricks to lighten up your favorite comfort foods.

1) Use reduced-fat versions of yogurt, milk, mayonnaise and cheese in your recipes.
The phrase “fat is flavor” is very true. When trying to reduce fat in a recipe, you need to be careful not to take out so much fat that it doesn’t taste good. By using reduced-fat products, you can very often lighten things up without compromising on the flavor.

2) Use other flavor-packed ingredients as a substitute for ingredients that are high in fat and calories.
This can be a bit tricky. It’s not always easy to know what makes a good substitute. Here is a good example. We all love homemade Mac & Cheese, but it’s often packed with calories, fat and sodium. It is frequently made with butter, whole milk and several different cheeses. The average homemade Mac and Cheese breaks down like this:

For a 2-cup serving:
922 calories
46g of fat
852g sodium

By using healthier ingredients and some slightly different techniques, you can make a healthier version that still taste great. The healthier version of Mac & Cheese breaks down like this:

For a 2-cup serving:
252 calories
8g of fat
536g sodium

If you want to alter a recipe to make it healthier but don’t know exactly how to do that and still have it taste good, go to healthy video recipe websites and take advantage of their research and experimentation. This is an approach to making healthier Mac & Cheese:

Put flour, salt and pepper in a saucepan.
Combine with fat-free milk.
Add reduced fat cream cheese and bring to a slow boil.
Add Dijon mustard, garlic and Worcestershire.
Cook pasta and drain.
Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in full-fat shredded cheddar (not very much).
Mix with pasta and season to taste.

The reason this recipe works is because it uses ingredients like garlic, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard which are packed with flavor but not the fat or calories. They replace a lot of the fat that comes when adding butter, whole milk and multiple cheeses.

Use the advice of experts when trying to figure out what ingredients might be good replacements. After a while, you’ll be able to come up with healthier versions on your own.

3) If you know that the food you want to eat is not healthy be sure to keep the portion small.
Everyone wants to indulge every once in a while. The key to enjoying the indulgence without feeling guilty is to control the portion. Have a sliver of pecan pie, not a quarter of it. Have a mini bacon, cheddar cheeseburger, not a quarter pounder. And if you do over do it, then get out there and walk, run or bike it off. Here’s the effort needed to make up for our common guilty pleasures:

A bacon cheddar cheeseburger – 970 calories 
    To burn it off?  Run 6.0 miles per hour for 2 hours

Pecan Pie – around 500 calories
    To burn it off? Run 5.2 miles per hour for 48 minutes

Prime rib – around 700 calories    
    To burn it off?  Play tennis for 1.5 hours

Mashed potatoes – around 300 calories
To burn it off?  Lift weights for an hour

Ask yourself if it’s worth the indulgence. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time you eat really well and 20% of the time you get a small indulgence. Then, you’ll have the best of both worlds — a healthy lifestyle filled with fresh, great-tasting meals and an occasional indulgent treat that the culinary world has to offer.

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Eat well. Be happy. Enjoy good food!

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