Cooking Swaps: Tips for “Making Your Cake” and “Eating it Too”


You probably know that eating at home is typically healthier than dining out. While home-cooked meals are often lower in calories, fat and sodium than their restaurant counterparts, certain recipes may still be high in these items. How might you make your home-cooked staples even healthier?

Want fried chicken without all that fat?
• Bake the chicken instead. If you like a crunchy crust, use panko bread crumbs. Just beat an egg and dip the chicken in flour, then in the beaten egg, before you coat it with the panko (the egg will help the coating stick). Then bake the coated chicken in the oven.

Are your boiled vegetables getting boring?
• Steam, sauté or stir-fry instead. These methods will allow you to preserve nutrients and flavor. Boiling vegetables can leach valuable nutrients out into the water: these nutrients go right down the drain when you strain. Vegetables also taste great when roasted in the oven or grilled.
• For more information on these cooking methods, check out:

Dying for creamy mac-and-cheese?
• Get out the food processor or blender – lower calorie cooked veggies like cauliflower and butternut squash will puree into a thick creamy sauce (with a little water or broth) that is perfect for lightening up the classic cheese sauce used in mac-and-cheese recipes, while simultaneously adding nutrients and increasing fiber.

Want creaminess without the cream?
• Purée silken tofu or a can of white beans to add as a substitute for cream in savory recipes, like casseroles or soups. You’ll swap out calories and fat for more protein.

Looking for healthier dips?
• Replace sour cream or cream cheese in dips and toppings with plain non-fat Greek yogurt. You’ll be saving calories and fat while increasing your intake of calcium and protein.

Want to reduce fat and sugar without drastically affecting your baked goods?
• You can usually reduce the sugar in recipes by 1/3.
• Try cutting the butter in recipes by 1/4. If a recipe calls for a whole stick (8 tbsp) leave off 2 tbsp and save 200 calories.
• Have a baking recipe that calls for oil? Replace ½ the oil with an equal amount of applesauce. 1 cup of oil has almost 2,000 calories while 1 cup applesauce has about 90 calories. Other fruit purees, like plums, also work as well for this.
• Pick up 100% whole wheat flour and experiment by replacing half white flour with your whole wheat counterpart: you’ll have more fiber and nutrients with minimal effort.

Want to reduce your intake of unhealthy fats?
• Cook meat and vegetables in heart-healthy fats like olive oil or canola oil instead of butter.
• When a recipe calls for cream or half-and-half use 2% or plain soy or almond milk instead.
• Instead of buttering a baking dish or pan, line it with parchment paper.

Learn something new!


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Our Be Fit Nutritionists are comprised of dietetic interns studying at Massachusetts General Hospital. During their internship, they receive training on acute care nutrition, ambulatory and community nutrition, food service systems management, and research. Their comprehensive work is done in collaboration with registered dietitians.

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