When it comes to putting forth the effort & energy to cook, it's likely that the last thing you want to worry about it whether or not it's healthy for you. For the most part, simply cooking a meal at home vs. ordering it out is already healthier for you, but I want you to know (and try!) just how easy it is to "healthify" any meal you make at home. Try some of these simple strategies...
PUMP UP THE PRODUCE
There’s no denying that fruits and veggies are good for us. But not all recipes embrace their awesomeness. Fix that by adding in your favorite fruit or vegetable into a dish. Or turns things up a notch by increasing the fruit or veg content by half (in some recipes you can get away with doubling it!).
GO WHOLE GRAIN
I always like to preface talking about whole grains by saying that whole grains are not healthier because they’re lower in calories than their “refined” counterparts. Whole grains are healthier because they maintain much of their natural nutrition because it hasn't been stripped away during processing. So sub in whole-wheat pasta for white or go for brown jasmine rice for the fiber and more at meal time.
SPICE IT UP! (and down)
Trying going sans added sugar (and even salt) in your recipes. Load up on the spices & herbs for flavor (I love garlic, chili powder, cumin and curry). If salt is an absolute must, add just a touch as a topping to your meal.
Here's a big one guys... CUT BACK ON THE FAT. Because fat (the most energy dense macronutrient) can come from a variety of sources when making a meal, such as the meat or cooking oil. Consider trying one (or all) of the following to “healthify” your meal…
SLIM DOWN ON SIZE
No matter what, you can always rely on this strategy to help you make a meal that much more nutritious! For example, if a recipe traditionally calls for ½ cup of butter, cut it in half and try just ¼ cup. Or, instead of 1 cup of shredded cheese, try just ½ cup. Start by cutting back in half and let your taste buds guide you from there.
GO LEAN WITH YOUR PROTEIN
By choosing a lower fat protein source, not only are you cutting back on the total amount of fat in your meal, you’re really reducing the amount of saturated fat (especially with plant-proteins) you consume. And saturated fats are those un-heart healthy fats that increase your lousy LDL-cholesterol.
DOWNGRADE THE DAIRY
Keep the creaminess, but cut down on the saturated fat by choosing a lower fat milk product, such as 1% milk instead of whole or reduced-fat cheese in place of regular.
What’s your favorite way to healthify a meal? Tell us in the comments below!