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There are ways to cook healthier for the family, without them even knowing. Cooking healthier for the family can be done, without the use of a secret kitchen. This can even be accomplished without causing meal time rebellion.
Cooking healthier encompasses many aspects. It can mean cooking foods with less calories, cholesterol, and less fat. Cooking healthier meals from scratch can also mean cooking foods with less salt and or sugar.
It can also mean incorporating more fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables. Healthier cooking also means using fewer processed foods.
Think stealthily. Be an undercover agent in your own kitchen. Think of all the foods your family enjoys eating. Now think of some healthier food choices that the family could be making. If you’re the main cook, it’s okay to make these choices for them. If you do it right, they’ll never know.
1. Offer More Appetizers than Desserts
When you fill up your family on healthier pre-entree foods, there will be less room for desserts. The all-evening snack train might also slow down. Make hearty vegetable and bean filled soups in the cooler months with your slow cooker or when in a hurry with your pressure cooker.
During the warmer months, have fresh salad and fruit salad available. Also set the table with a small bowl of baby carrots, celery, or any other healthy munchables.
2. Replace Foods in Moderation
The trick to cooking healthy and stealthy is to slowly replace portions of food with healthier choices. By changing the meal ingredients in moderation, the meal eaters will not notice the subtle changes as much, if it all. If instead you went in and changed every part of every meal with healthier choices, the entire family, from dad (or mom) to baby would mutiny right there at the dinner table.
Substitute only a portion at a time. Over time, substitute more and more of the healthier foods for the unhealthy foods.
3. Replace Whole Eggs with Egg Whites
When cooking eggs, substitute whole eggs for egg whites, at least in part. One whole egg can be substituted with two egg whites.
When baking, using egg whites and not egg yolks; this may make baked goods not as tender. To compensate for this, add a couple of tablespoons of applesauce or mashed bananas when substituting whole eggs with egg whites during baking.
4. Replace Ground Beef with Ground Turkey
The easiest meal to start changing is dinner. Everyone is hungry, and maybe even a little tired. Any dish that is made with ground beef can be made healthier with ground turkey.
Ground chicken is also available; however, ground chicken has a flavor that cannot be confused for beef.
Ground turkey, on the other hand, has a very subtle flavor of its own, and tends to pick up spices and flavorings quite successfully.
When replacing ground beef with ground turkey for the first time, only replace about 1/3 of the ground beef with the ground turkey. By replacing only a portion, you will not draw attention to the change. It also gives the cook a chance to make any adjustments to recipes that may be needed.
Ground turkey can replace ground beef in any number of home cooked meals including Italian meatballs, meatloaf, tacos, Swedish meatballs, lasagna as pictured above, and any other dishes that use ground beef.
5. Reach for Spices Before Salt
Instead of reaching for the salt every time you boil water, or cook, use actual herbs and spices instead. Try Mrs. Dash Salt-free seasonings. The flavors are strong and there are different types for chicken an other dishes. You will not miss the salt.
Also try cooking more with freshly ground pepper, which can enhance foods much more than salt can.
6. Use Lite Salt
If your family cannot completely forgo the salt, buy Lite Salt. It replaces about half of the sodium chloride with potassium chloride – an electrolyte that your body needs anyway. The bonus is that, besides replacing the sodium, the potassium also works to counteract the effects of sodium. A win-win. If you can’t find it in your area, Amazon carries it.
7. Cook with Canola Oil Spray
Spray pans with canola oil spray instead of cooking with butter or margarine.
8. Add More Vegetables
Vegetables can be stealthily added to cream soups, stews, and cooked and mashed and added to other dishes like meatloaf. Also cook more vegetables with any slow-roasted meats.
9. Replace Cheese Food with Real Cheese
Nothing is sadder than a child that thinks cheese only comes in a can or in its own little plastic wrapper. Forget the individually wrapped slices of “cheese food.” (Check the label, that’s what it says). Instead, buy real cheese from the deli or from the dairy section. Do not buy cheese food or processed cheese.
10. Replace Processed Meats with Real Meat Products
Replace the family’s hot dogs with all-beef hot dogs, if you know they won’t give them up. You can also replace beef and pork Kielbasa with turkey kielbasa.
At the deli, get the most natural sandwich meats available. Store cooked roast beef or turkey is preferable to water-laden pre-packaged deli meats that are filled with preservatives, sodium and nitrates.
Bread your own chicken nuggets, and skip the processed meat nuggets and chicken strips in the meat aisle.
Consider grilling for most of your meals; if done right, it’s much more healthier than many other cooking techniques.
11. Introduce Healthier Snacks
Okay, this one they will notice, but they will be okay if there is still a choice. For every bag of potato chips you buy, buy a bag of pretzels (or even better yet – make some homemade pretzels). For every gallon of ice cream you buy, buy some colorful yogurt (or make a healthier version).
By replacing unhealthy food choices with healthier options, your family will be healthier. The best part is, they may never even know.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!