5 “Cooking Hacks” for Healthier Recipes

5 "Cooking Hacks" for Healthier Recipes 1
Image by: Meal Makeover Moms
By Harper Finch

Eating healthy all the time can be difficult. But there are simple changes you can make to the recipes that you use every day to make a big difference. If you replace unhealthy ingredients with something healthier, you will end up with a final product that is better for you… and your waistline.

If you are looking for a few simple ways to change the way you eat, without completely giving up the foods you love, try some of these easy tricks to help you find a little more balance.

#1) Fry, Then Bake your Fish

Fish is a food that is full of satisfying flavor. It is low in calories and loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Frying fish in butter makes it delicious, but can really crank up the fat and calorie counts. You can change the way you prepare your fish by baking or broiling it instead, but if you want to get all the great flavor and crispy texture of pan-fried fish, try this trick: first, fry it on one side, then flip it over onto an oven-safe pan and bake it in the oven.

The rule of thumb for baking fish is to cook it 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the fish’s thickest point. Since you pre-fried half of your fish, you can cut the bake time by about half. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too dry.

#2) Use Apple Sauce

This is a great trick for baking any recipe that calls for large amounts of oil or butter. Swapping some of the oil out for applesauce adds moisture and flavor to baked goods. It also adds fiber and nutrients. And, for every 1/2-cup of oil that you replace with applesauce, you will eliminate 900 calories and 110 grams of fat. Replacing 1/2-cup of butter eliminates 850 calories and 91 grams of fat. Try this trick with muffins, cakes, and sweet breads.

Only use unsweetened applesauce. Sweetened varieties will add extra sugar, which alters the sweetness of your baked goods. Try different ratios of applesauce for your recipes to determine how much you should substitute for best flavor and texture.

Baked goods made with applesauce tend to dry out more quickly than those made with oil, so reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees and check them for doneness 5 to 10 minutes early and remove them from the oven as soon as they are done.

#3) Black Bean Brownies

Yes, I said black bean brownies. I know it sounds strange, but brownies made with black beans taste just like the original and are much healthier than their white-flour counterparts. Since they don’t have nearly as much sugar, they won’t cause your blood sugar level to spike. Black beans add protein and fiber and also makes your brownies gluten-free.

To get the best consistency, use a blender or food processor to blend the beans until they are very smooth. If you don’t have either of these appliances, you can use a potato masher.

Try this recipe from food.com.

#4) Substitute Oats for White Flour

The white flour you purchase in the store bears little resemblance to the original wheat, and has lost most of its nutrients through manufacturing process. Oats are low in fat, sodium free, cholesterol-free and preservative-free. Oats are also an important source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. They help you maintain a healthy blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and promote a healthy digestive system.

Instead of using all nutritionally-lacking white flour in your pancakes and bread recipes, swap them out for ground oats. Oats add texture and a mild nutty flavor to baked goods, so they are also great for cookies.

You can grind the oats in a blender until they are a fine powder. Then replace half the flour with oat powder, and you won’t notice much change in the consistency.

#5) Sneak Veggies In

If you love pasta but could live without the extra carbs or just want to add another vegetable to your meal, you have to try a spaghetti-squash substitution. No, it’s not exactly the same as spaghetti noodles, but it is a great substitute that cuts the calories in half.

To cook the squash, all you have to do is cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and rub the inside with olive oil. Then roast it in the oven at 400 degrees until it is completely tender. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

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