Tuesday, January 27, 2009

some healthy options, for those of us who don't look like cindy crawford without trying.

so, because i don't do a lot of cooking during the week, but i want to stay in the habit of updating this as often as possible, i think i'll fill in my non-cooking days with some helpful things i'm learning about cooking as i go along.

lately i've been inspired to research lots of healthy baking alternatives that don't alter the taste of my baking.
some of you know that i used to weigh a LOT more than i do now. seriously. we're talking 50+ pounds, here.
i don't really know how i lost it, but i sure as heck know how i gained it in the first place. so i'm trying to take steps to ensure that it doesn't ever come back.

keep in mind, i would not post, much less eat, anything that makes my food come out tasting, or feeling, like cardboard. i enjoy food way too much to do that to myself.

now, onto the things i've learned:

*feel free to do some plain reductions like cutting the amount of sugar called for down by half. also, skip the oil and salt that is recommended to add to boiling pasta as it is not necessary. (the salt helps the water boil faster, and the oil keeps the pasta from sticking. helpful, but definitely not required.)

*some natural sweeteners, such as agave or stevia, can be used in place of sugar. or, splenda works!

*we do a lot of this in our house, as my husband is a vegetarian- you can substitute most any meats with a vegetarian alternative, like morningstar farms meal starters. the ones we use the most often are the chick'n strips instead of real chicken, and the soy crumbles instead of ground beef. they taste delicious! or, if you need the nutrients often provided by meats, most stores carry a selection of various fat percentages of their ground beef. look for 92% leaner ground beef or use buffalo meat if it is carried. any chicken recipes that call for the whole bird or for dark meat can use chicken or turkey breast. in place of regular bacon, you can use 2 tsp of bac'n bits- and they don't have ANY meat in them! There are also reduced fat bacon and turkey bacons available.

*when breadcrumbs are needed to mix with meat or as a breading, use a mixture of unprocessed bran flakes mixed with oat flour. other choices might be crushed bran cereal, crushed whole-wheat crackers or oatmeal. if a recipe calls for potato or corn chips, use reduced fat or baked versions. even cornflakes, rice krispies or other cereals can be substituted.

*in place of butter in a baking recipe, you can use half as much margarine, or there is a product called Brummel & Brown that my friend katie boulter uses in her cooking. it's a yogurt-based butter product that she loves. to add extra vitamins, canned pumpkin can be used as a direct substitution for butter in some baked items like cookies. For greasing bake ware, use a butter flavored spray instead.

*cheese comes in plenty of reduced fat varieties and is an easy substitution. try using low-fat ricotta and cottage cheeses. Mixing the two works well, so 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and 1/2 cup reduced fat cheese for every cup of cheese.

*for every egg that is used in the recipe, replace it with 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute. this recipe for homemade egg substitute can be made and kept in the refrigerator for one week. mix 6 egg whites, 1/4 cup nonfat powdered milk, 1 tsp oil and 6 drops of yellow food coloring (found in a google search, but i have yet to try it.)

*milk substitution is easily done with using skim milk instead of whole milk. Water can be used in some cases, but it does not contain the calcium and other vitamins that milk does. sour cream has reduced and non-fat versions but fat free plain yogurt can be used (this also works for mayonnaise). replace cream with evaporated skim milk. whipped cream can be substituted with vanilla non-fat yogurt.

*this is one i use frequently- applesauce can be used in baked items such as muffins and quick breads. It replaces oil, margarine or butter. i like to use the cinnamon kind in things like pumpkin bread or muffins. yum!

*for baking products with chocolate, i learned that you can use a one for one replacement with pureed prunes. prunes sound gross, but they help retain the moisture and richness, and i've heard there is hardly a taste difference. also, baking chocolate can be substituted with cocoa powder. the conversion is 3 tbsp per 1 oz. instead of using chocolate chips, try using carob chips- though chocolate is a natural mood-elevator, and therefore i firmly believe is irreplaceable and if enjoyed in moderation, the positive benefits far outweigh the negatives.

so there you go.
i haven't tried all of these, but i will be sure to let you know when i do.

and of course, there will be times when i just don't care, and will consume every calorie with delight.


  1. Hi Katie, or should I call you DK, now?

    I'm still trying to overcome the shock (or is it the irony?) of my Katie authoring a web site on domesticity! What a wonderful endeavor this is, though. I'm proud of you!

    Just wanted to say that the substitute for bread crumbs really works. I made homemade crispy chicken fingers for your little bro the other day by dipping chicken breast strips in eggbeaters (you ccould also use a beaten egg or egg white) and then dredging them in crumbs that I made from Fiber One cereal by putting the dry cereal in the blender -- a trick I learned from Hungry Girl. Then baked 'em for about 20 minutes. They were moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, healthy, and altogether yummy!


  2. Thanks, Kit, I'll look forward to your world peace cookies. I really enjoy your blog, and I'll make sure I keep up on it to learn a few things about cooking. Are you a fan of cooking and baking or one of the two? I really like cooking but am not a very good baker. Interestingly enough, on Oprah today they said regular bacon is better for you than turkey bacon. Could it be? It's hard to believe...happy mess making!

  3. Krit- the info about the bacon is GREAT news, because i could never give it up. mmmm!
    and i'm a fan of both cooking and baking, but baking seems to be my favorite lately. probably because i love everything sweet!


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