If you want to eat a healthy diet, you’ll need to do more than choose the right foods. It’s also important to prepare foods in a healthy way. There are many different methods to cut cholesterol, trim fat and reduce calories without sacrificing taste or spending all day in the kitchen. Here are a few tips to help you serve more savory dishes that are both heart smart and nutritious.
The way you prepare foods is just as important as the foods that are being prepared.
- Roast using a rack so the meat or poultry does not sit in its own fat drippings. Baste with fat-free liquids such as wine, tomato juice or lemon juice instead of pan drippings.
- Bake foods using little extra liquid in covered cookware.
- Stir-fry in a wok with vegetable stock, wine or a little bit of peanut oil.
- Grill or broil with a rack to allow fat to drip away from the food.
- Steam foods in a basket over simmering water.
- Poach chicken or fish by immersing it in simmering liquid.
- Sauté with an open skillet over high heat. Cook using nonstick vegetable spray, a small amount of broth or wine, or a little bit of oil rubbed onto the pan using a paper towel.
- Microwave and drain fat by placing food between two paper towels as it cooks.
You can make your favorite recipes more heart healthy by substituting certain ingredients to reduce fat, cholesterol and sodium.
- Instead of heavy cream, use evaporated fat-free milk.
- Replace sour cream with low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat or nonfat yogurt.
- Substitute cream cheese with margarine blended with dry, low-fat cottage cheese.
- Instead of shortening, use olive, canola or safflower oil.
- Swap a whole egg for an egg white plus unsaturated oil, or cholesterol-free egg substitute.
- Trade whole or two percent milk for one percent or skim milk.
- Exchange canned vegetables for fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Switch to low-fat cheeses.
- When baking, replace oil, shortening or butter with ripe mashed bananas or applesauce.
- Use lower-cholesterol meats, such as beef round, sirloin, loin and ground beef that is 15 percent fat or less, ground turkey, and chicken breast with the skin removed.
- Replace salt with herbs and spices to add flavor.
- Substitute a portion of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, oatmeal or whole cornmeal.
Now that you have prepared a mouth-watering, heart-healthy entrée, don’t be tempted to add on butter, sauces or dressings that can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Instead, try some low-fat flavorings to spice up your meal, such as salsa, horseradish, herbs (oregano, basil, cilantro, thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and paprika), mustard, catsup, and reduced fat or nonfat mayonnaise, yogurt or soy sauce.
For more information about heart healthy cooking, visit the American Heart Association Web site at www.americanheart.org for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (D.A.S.H) eating plan that has all the elements of a heart-healthy diet.