Ask yourself during meal preparation, “what can I add to this meal”, or “what can I take away to make it healthier.”
Top tips to adjust recipes for health. Optimizing health starts in the kitchen. Choose food that energizes and nourishes your body.
Many factors could be taken into consideration when planning your meals. We are aware that the biggest influences on our food choices are: convenience and availability, and the marketing of processed and packaged foods. The Canada Food Guide emphasizes the 3 S’s - to raise awareness to Canadians to be mindful of their consumption of Sugar, Saturated fat and Sodium. Additionally, Health Canada promotes an increased intake in plant-based nutrition, and a decrease in the consumption of packaged and processed foods.
Decrease the amount of sugar when using recipes (simply cut back on the total amount used, or consider a suitable substitute such as applesauce). Remember that maple syrup, honey, cane sugar etc. are all equivalent forms of sugar. Read the labels carefully for sugar ingredients ending is “ose” (sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, lactose), dextrin, maltodextrin, or syrups.
Consume less simple sugars such as sodas, candy, cookies, ice cream, desserts. Be mindful of the sugar added to coffee, tea, and other beverages.
Choosing to lower your sugar intake may help:
Decrease the total amount of saturated fat consumed daily. Also, replace saturated fats with healthy fats. Instead of using coconut oil, palm oil or butter, use vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil or Becel.
Read the labels and be aware of the total fat; plus determine the percentage of saturated/trans fats in relation to the total fat. Choose lower fat dairy options when selecting cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese.
Choose plant-based options more often. ALL meat, lamb, pork, poultry, and goat are sources of saturated fat. Plan meatless meals more often. Incorporate legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas) into your recipes such as casseroles and soups. Replace half the beef or poultry in your stir-fry, wrap or casserole with legumes. Make your chili meatless. Plan a meatless Monday.
Reducing the unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) may help prevent:
Carefully consider the ingredients in the recipe. Does the recipe contain ingredients that are high in sodium ie. condiments, ketchup, sauces, spices, broth, canned goods? If the recipe calls for adding salt during the preparation as well as ingredients with added sodium, consider omitting the extra salt. Salt can always be added at the table if desired.
Rinse canned beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. Choose the lowest sodium broth. Add herbs and spices to recipes in place of added salt (try Mrs. Dash). Read labels on canned goods such as tomatoes and tomato sauce. Remember that 15% or more of the percentage daily value is considered high for that ingredient.
Be cautious of your sodium intake as it may contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Extra vegetables or legumes can be added to almost any main dish for extra nutrients and fibre. Add vegetables to wraps, pasta, sauces, stews, casseroles, soups etc. Substitute white flour with whole wheat flour when baking. Add high fibre ingredients such as nuts, seeds or bran to hot or cold cereals, muffins, yogurt, salads etc. Choose whole grain breads and cereals that are high in fibre. Eat greens daily. Incorporate an additional garden salad every dinner. Snack on fruit and vegetables more often ie. hummus and vegetables, frozen or fresh berries with low-fat yogurt.
Swap out: potato chips for fresh fruit or veggies, white potatoes for sweet potatoes, white rice for brown rice, white pasta for whole wheat pasta (or Smart Pasta), white pasta for zucchini noodles, white pizza crust for whole wheat or cauliflower pizza crust.
Increasing the fibre in your diet may help: