Did you know that you can make recipes healthier in just 5 easy steps – Any recipe?
No more do you have to skip a recipe because of its ingredients – whether it is the sugar content, the bad oils or even the type of flour a recipe contains, it really doesn’t matter.
Have you ever kissed beloved recipes goodbye in an effort to make your food more nutritious? I know I certainly have!
But, it just might be time to dust those recipe off and remake them with a healthier version! It really is not hard and I will show you how to make ANY recipe healthier.
I really enjoy trying new recipes and making old recipes healthier. So, when I look at a new recipe, here are the 5 steps that I go through to make a recipe healthier. The great part is, once you begin making recipes healthier, it becomes almost automatic!
Make Recipes Healthier – 5 Steps
1. Type of Sugar Used
The first step to make recipes healthier is to look at what type of sugar is used. If it is processed sugar, I use honey which is my preferred sweetener or Sucanat which is available from my affiliate partner or I have also purchased it from Azure Standard. Sucanat has a hint of a molasses flavor similar to brown sugar.
Honey can be substituted at 3/4 cup for each cup of sugar. Depending on the type of recipe, when substituting honey, I will cut down other liquids in the recipe by 25% – 50%. Sometimes it is trial and error but I normally start with decreasing the liquid by 1/4 and that gets you close to the desired end product.
Sucanat is substituted 1 cup for each 1 cup of sugar. Sometimes even a bit more is needed especially in desserts.
2. Type of Flour Used
The second step to make recipes healthier is to substitute the unbleached or white flour for whole wheat flour. This can make the finished product a bit heavier especially if the recipe is for a bread product. If in doubt, start with 1/2 unbleached and 1/2 whole wheat flour and increase the amount of whole wheat flour gradually.
Sprouted flour is another healthy option. Sprouted flour is easier to digest, and the sprouting process increases the nutrient content in the grain – vitamins C, B and carotene especially. The sprouting process also greatly decreases the phytic acid or antinutrient content of the grain. Phytic acid is present in the bran of all grains and seeds. For more information on phytic acid and how to neutralize it, see Proper Grain Preparation.
If you are gluten free, you can normally substitute a non-gluten baking mix cup for cup with the unbleached flour. If you are using coconut flour this is not the case. Coconut flour is very absorbent because it has more fiber than unbleached flour. This means that it will need more liquid added, as well as, more leavening (eggs, baking soda..) Again, trial and error may be needed to get the desired finished product.
Almond flour and other nut flours may be substituted cup for cup in recipes to provide a gluten free option. When substituting almond or nut flour, which makes for a heavier end product, be sure to increase the baking soda (or baking powder) 1/2 tsp per cup of almond/nut flour.
3. Type of Oil Used
The third step to make recipes healthier is to change from unhealthy fats to healthy ones. I now use mainly olive oil in my recipes and sometimes coconut oil. If the recipe calls for margarine and I substitute cup for cup butter. There is no need to adjust quantities here, cup for cup works well.
Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which is a healthy fat. It contains polyphenols which are an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage. Polyphenols help lower blood pressure and cholesterol thus decreasing the risk of heart disease risk. Polyphenols also help lower the risk of cancer by lowering inflammation and cellular proliferation. Pure olive oil is less expensive than extra virgin olive oil and is a blend of mostly processed olive oil and a small percentage of extra virgin olive oil. It can be as much as 95% olive oil and 5% extra virgin olive oil.
Coconut oil is a nutrient dense source of energy and is extracted from the meat of coconuts. It is made up of more than 85% saturated fats. In case you are worried about saturated fats, most of the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides. Medium chain triglycerides are medium length and are metabolized differently than long chain triglycerides. They help you feel more quickly satisfied when eating, increase the HDL (good cholesterol), help control body weight and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Lauric acid makes up almost half of the fat in coconut
oil. Lauric acid has been found to kill bacteria, viruses, fungus and to help fight infection.
Butter is packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fatty acids, good cholesterol and iodine. Butter has the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and is also a good source Vitamin A which is essential to a healthy immune system and keeps the thyroid healthy. Butter coming from grass fed animals also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA which protects against cancer and helps the body build muscle rather than fat. If you have access to raw milk, butter is super easy to make – check out Make Your Own Butter. If you don’t, US Wellness Meats carries quality grassfed butter.
4. Exchange Salt, Herbs and Spices for Natural, Non-irradiated Versions
The fourth step to make recipes healthier is to lose the table salt and replace it with sea salt which essential trace minerals and nutrients that your body can assimilate. And, there are no clumping agents added to prevent clumping as with table salt.
Instead of the grocery store herbs and spices, I use real salt, herbs and spices from Starwest Botanicals because they are organic, non-irradiated plus they are more aromatic and flavorful than others. It is amazing to compare the same herb or spice from the grocery store and Starwest Botanicals side by side. Those from Starwest Botanicals are more colorful and fragrant whereas the grocery store’s is pale and lacks aroma!
5. Processed Replacements
The fifth step to make recipes healthier is to look for any processed ingredients that you can replace with a healthier version. Typically, canned products have unnecessary ingredients including preservatives, dyes and taste enhancers. Most of these can easily be substituted with homemade healthier versions. You can find out how to make many of them here: Vanilla extract, mayonnaise, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese…
Substitutions can be made to familiar recipes so that they meet the requirements for specific diets. For example, those who eat Paleo or who have milk/dairy allergies can replace milk with coconut milk. Egg substitutes can be made for those with sensitivities to eggs – I have heard good reports of Ener G Egg Replacer. For other substitutions, see 83 Healthy Recipe Substitutions.
Now that you know how to make recipes healthier, what is the first recipe you plan to make healthier?