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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tips for Healthy, Hassle-Free Food

The best (and easiest) lessons for getting in the habit of cooking healthy and eating right you can do it even before you start cooking:

One obvious target: Dairy products. Many people think, incorrectly, that 2 percent milk is significantly healthier than whole milk. In fact, one cup of 2 percent milk has 130 calories and 5 grams of fat, compared to 150 calories and 8 grams of fat in whole milk. Whole milk also has 5 grams of potentially heart-damaging saturated fat, while 2 percent milk has 3 grams of saturated fat. Even a switch to 1 percent milk cuts the calorie count to 110 and halves the fat content to 2.5 grams, including 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

The best choice, nutritionally, is skim milk, but some people dislike its watery consistency. An easy solution, Iserloh said, is to try skim milk plus, which has added milk solids for a creamier taste.

Cheese can be a trickier ingredient for substitutions, as many fat-free cheese products do not melt as well as their fatty counterparts. Iserloh's go-to choice for a healthier cheese is part-skim mozzarella, which she says melts beautifully.

It's lower in fat but still has that ooey-gooey melted cheese factor.

Go Half-and-Half

Ground beef is an easy option for getting dinner on the table, but it can be very high in saturated fat. Ground turkey is an obvious lower-fat alternative, but it dries out when it is cooked since fat is the key ingredient to keep proteins moist.

Iserloh suggests making a half-and-half mixture of ground beef and turkey in recipes like meatloaf, nachos and meatballs.

Adding milk or bread also helps keep the moisture level up for ground protein with low-fat content. Iserloh adds one-quarter cup skim milk per pound of ground turkey to help retain moisture and keep the meat tender. Dairy adds the moisture and keeps the protein from seizing up so much.

Eggs also benefit from the half-and-half treatment. Use one whole egg with two egg whites, prepared in your favorite way, for a delicious compromise that still offers the rich yolky taste, Iserloh said. You can freeze the extra yolks in quart containers or double bagged in plastic baggies and use them later for rich desserts like ice cream or cookies.

Use Healthy Add Ons

Grated vegetables like zucchini, carrots or onions add moisture to meat dishes, and are easy enough to prep using a food processor or a box grater.

Whenever you can get vegetables in, do it. Plus, getting vegetables in the main entrée means you don't have to worry about making a side dish, which is a great time-saver.

And for an entrée like meatloaf, made entirely with ground turkey, or Iserloh's favorite, turkey Bolognese, grated veggies like carrots can be a great addition. Just grating an extra carrot in is the easiest thing in the world to do


Adding canned beans to entrees is another way to boost nutrition with extra fiber, plus this addition helps you feel fuller faster. Iserloh adds mashed navy or cannellini beans to dishes, such as chicken enchiladas.

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