Since it's Friday, we're wrapping up the week with a veritable overload of healthy cooking info (and as far as keeping the healthy eating going through the weekend, it's something I've yet to master...somehow the Saturday/Sunday activities seem to get the best of me). I want to take a moment to share some of my own personal tips that I like to attribute to aiding in keeping my waistline from getting super-sized. As you've come to know, I enjoy sampling new restaurants and adopting a no-holds-barred attitude when it comes to trying as much food on the menu as I can handle. But when I'm cooking at home (unless it's for a full day of Giants-Jets football) I try my hardest to incorporate as many good-for-you elements as possible. That way, when I do go overboard with oversized pastrami sandwiches or burgers grilled to perfection, I can enjoy it to no end and then get right back on the proverbial horse once the weekdays roll around. So, with that in mind, here's the code I follow for weeknight cooking:
Add vegetables wherever you can, whenever you can
I know it seems beyond obvious, but sometimes I find myself planning a meal only to realize that there isn't one vegetable on the plate. That's why I added asparagus into the turkey-pasta mash up and mushrooms to the glazed chicken from earlier this week. I also add in frozen spinach to any pasta dish that graces my kitchen. And please believe me when I tell you that when it comes to raw veggies, it's all about getting the roast on. It keeps the nutritional value while bringing out the fabulous flavor and actually makes vegetables yummy to eat. For a complete roasting tutorial, check out this article.
Make the switch to brown rice
Another tip that might seem obvious, but I think it's an important one. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how brown rice is so delicious because...well...it's not. But, you can make it better by simply substituting low-sodium chicken broth for the water that the rice is boiled in. Huge upgrade from the cardboardy, grainy regular brown rice.
Make the switch to whole wheat pasta
Yup, all around. Some pasta varieties are easier to find than others, but I can always find whole wheat penne and whole wheat spaghetti, and that's enough for me.
No more full-fat dairy
Shaun and I made the switch to all reduced-fat or fat-free dairy since we've gotten married. This includes milk (though we still argue over 2% or skim...I vote skim...but we meet in the middle at 1%), cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, yogurt, cheese...
Adopt new cooking ingredients
There are lots of ingredients that pack huge flavor without breaking your belt. How about adding cumin to your sweet potatoes? Or sprinkled on walnuts? Or on a grilled chicken breast? This spice is one that until recently had been a veritable unknown to me, but once I discovered its sweet 'n savory, punchy flavor, I started using it in my cooking. A lot. Another great ingredient is white wine. I use this in two of my favorite recipes, the shrimp with orzo and the turkey sausage farfalle. A little bit goes a long way and virtually transforms a dish from bland to brilliant. And don't even get me started on the power of dijon mustard...
These are just a few of the tips I follow on a regular basis in my cooking, and swear by them. A few of these changes could go a long way. I'm constantly trying to find new ways to cut back or substitute new ingredients while keeping things interesting over here at chez Humiston. Do you have any tips that help keep you on track, health-wise? Are there any small changes you've incorporated into your cooking or eating that have made a difference? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me some ideas!
Meanwhile, you can check out some past recipes that qualify as keeping-it-healthy...hope you enjoy!
And in case you missed any of this week's recipes, here they are for your easy reference...
Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
Turkey-Pasta Mash Up
Portabella Mushroom Chicken & Roasted Cauliflower
Shrimp Saute with Orzo