Thursday, June 09, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Baby Step Changes Part 6 Reinvent Yourself

3. Cook differently.

Look at your family’s favorite recipes.

What ingredients can you change? What ingredients can you decrease?

Once you start, it's not that intimidating to tweak favorites and end up with the same feeling, similar flavor. And knowing that you made it yourself and made it healthier for your family can be a slam-dunk, fabulous feeling.

Look at each ingredient individually. I can't promise that if you switch one type of flour for another that you'll end up with exact results, or that if you cut the amount of cheese in half that you will still get the flying trapeze of cheese upside your chin. But. If you are willing to make a change at a time, or two if you are brave, you can end up with some really tasty results.

Note: You might want to make a photocopy of your recipe and write the changes right on it. That way you can recreate what you did. There is nothing more frustrating than creating a tasty dish and not remembering what you did to get there. Grrr. Another note. If the recipe is already billed as "healthified" be cautious on tweaking too much. The second worst thing is investing the time into something that is inedible. I'm talking about classic recipes or full octane ingredients for the major tweaking.


Most items don’t need all the sugar and all the salt called for. You can reduce up to a third or even half the amount of sugar. Salt can be decreased by half.You will likely not notice the difference. Start with a third less and move up to half if you feel like you can go a bit more. Some fats can also be decreased.

Change out all purpose flour for a whole grain flour.Or make your own blends of regular (go unbleached for less processing), spelt, oat for a more traditional like flour with nutritional benefits.

Use whole grain pasta. Or a mix of half regular, half multi or whole grain.

Use a different milk like oatmilk, unsweetened coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk to sneak in different nutrition when milk is called for. Oatmilk is the most milk like in texture for creamy soups or casseroles. Coconut can leave a bit of coconut flavor but is nice in asian dishes calling for milk.My least favorite is soy because of the flavor.

Blend up vegetables and mix them into old stand-bys. If you have a meat loaf recipe that everyone loves, try adding a half or full cup of blended sweet potatoes and spinach. Replace part of the ground meat with lentils, beans, brown rice, quinoa or nuts If it's a "busy" recipe (got a lot going on) or If there’s sauce on it your family may not notice.

I haven't played around with a lot of recipes that call for applesauce for fats etc with results I love. But. If you have a recipe that feels pretty greasy, by all means, decrease the fat by a quarter the next time you make it. You might want to "grease" any pans in case it really messes with your end result. Or try half applesauce or bananas or pureed veggies or beans and half the fat.

By replacing, tweaking or decreasing ingredients, you change the nutritional dynamics of the meal. I have discovered that real food with nutritional heft is often more filling and satisfying and requires less.