Being a health and nutrition lover, I have accumulated quite the list of my favorite healthy recipe tips that I love to share with other people. Healthy recipes are some of my favorite things to experiment with when I have the time because they’re truly easier than you think, and creating recipes to be healthier for you is such an important thing to do when you can. Sugar consumption is higher now than it’s ever been, and it contributes to everything from diabetes, to heart disease, to depression, to hormonal problems, and more. Hydrogenated and trans fats in processed foods and many easy to make foods at home are also toxic to your body and detrimental to your health. The truth is, you have complete control over how to make your foods healthier, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Try some of my favorite healthy recipe tips to try if you need a few ideas to recreate your meals to be healthier and still taste good too!
1. Nix the Oil
Probably the most effective of all my favorite healthy recipe tips is to stop using oil in your baked goods, entrees, and anything else you cook. It’s fine to coat your pan with a little coconut oil, but avoid using large amounts in your recipes when you don’t need to. You can easily substitute whole pureed foods like canned pumpkin or applesauce in baked goods, and instead of seasoning your foods with oils, try using whole plant fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and even a single whole egg. It’s much better to get your calories from a whole food than from part of a food, which an oil is. Whole foods contain more phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein than oils do. I do suggest using coconut oil to coat your pans with, but don’t douse your food in it, regardless that it’s healthy. All calories add up, and cutting where you can will really make a difference.
2. SAUTE with Water
Speaking of oil, many people use oil to saute their veggies or other foods, but you truly don’t even need to. Instead, you can actually just use water and and saute them in a steam method. Instead of adding oil to your pan, add around ¼- ⅓ cup water and you’ll see how nicely and quickly they steam up. This is much healthier than heating them in oil, which can damage the fats from the oils anyway.
3. Experiment with Grain-free Flours
Another healthy recipe tip I have is to start experimenting with grain-free flours to bake with. Whole grains like oats and wild rice are some of the healthiest for you, but they are also higher in carbohydrates. It’s fine to have one or two servings a day of these foods, but when it comes to baking, don’t eat more carbs than you have to in the form of a quickly digested flour. I also suggest even avoiding whole wheat flour for the same reason, along with wheat being a source of gluten. It’s much better to implement grain-free flours lower in carbohydrates so your insulin levels don’t spike. This includes coconut flour, almond flour, quinoa flour (which is a seed, not a grain), and also chickpea flour. You’d be surprised how delicious these grain-free flours taste and they’re much lower in insulin-spiking carbs that convert to sugar quickly in the blood stream.
4. Salad Dressing Smarts
Instead of using store bought dressing, or just dousing your food in olive oil, try a different approach to your salad dressing. This includes using lemon juice, mustard, salsa, or even pureeing a little avocado with some red wine vinegar and black pepper to make a healthier dressing. You can even puree carrots with lemon juice, salt, and pepper and make a tasty dressing as well. Remember, fat free dressings from the store are also not the best option. These are full of preservatives, artificial sweeteners, refined soybean oils, and other nasty ingredients you probably don’t recognize. It’s also cheaper to make your own at home and requires nothing more than a little creativity. Hemp seeds, water, salt, and pepper also make for a great replication of Caesar dressing, and is one of my personal favorites to use. Cashews make a great stand in for creamy dressings as well.
5. Sweetener Smart
Whenever you use a sweetener in your recipes, be sure to be smart with what you choose. I always advise people not to use artificial sweeteners, or even natural sweeteners high in sugar like maple syrup, honey, date syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, sucanat, molasses, or any other “healthy” sweetener you might hear about. Regardless that some of these are lower on the glycemic index than others, they are all still a source of concentrated calories that you don’t need. Instead, choose stevia. I know some people are against it, but stevia is completely natural, and if you choose the liquid, alcohol-free forms, it’s hardly processed at all since the leaves are simply steamed with water and extracted into the liquid. Stevia is a whole plant that’s actually an herb, it’s 600-800 times sweeter than sugar so you need less, and it has been linked to better blood sugar, digestion, and even better appetite control. Avoid using stevia with added ingredients like maltodextrin, dextrose, or inulin. Erythritol is another healthy sweetener to use, but since it is a sugar alcohol, I stay away from it due it being linked to gas, bloating, and digestive disturbances. You can use stevia anywhere you would use sweetener in your foods and doing so is one of the best things you can do for your health and your waistline.
6. Use More Water
Whenever a recipe calls for all milk or all juice, I always just use water and maybe a little almond milk. This significantly lowers the calorie content and the results come out the same. It also enhances the flavor of the other ingredients more, which is another factor of this method I enjoy.
7. Spice It up
Lastly, my final tip for making recipes healthier is to utilize spices and even herbs whenever you can, instead of salt. A little salt is okay, so long as it is a high quality salt that still retains the natural minerals in sea salt. I like Himalayan sea salt, but use very little of it as I enjoy using herbs and spices much more. They amp up the flavor of your foods, and don’t leave you incredibly thirsty after a meal. They’re better for your blood pressure, your heart, and your waistline as well. You shouldn’t be afraid of salt, as your body needs it, but you also need to watch it where you can, since many foods we eat naturally have higher amounts of sodium in them anyway.
If you like to make healthy recipes and have a tip to share, I’d love to hear it. Many people have tricks up their sleeve to improve their recipes and learning new ones is something I always enjoy. Do you have a favorite healthy recipe tip to share?