Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Healthier Homemaking: How to adapt a recipe for maximum nutrition, pt. 1

Thankfully, eating nourishing foods does not require only cooking recipes from strange, obscure, "crunch" cookbooks. Believe it or not, I get most of my recipes from normal cookbooks, blogs, and websites--not from specifically "real food" sources (though I do really enjoy finding yummy recipes that are already healthified for me!).

The healthfulness of the meals you prepare is ultimately in the ingredients you use. Fats, sweeteners, and grains are the main things I consider when adapting a recipe to suit our nutritional preferences.

We talked about healthy fats a couple weeks ago. When I am making a recipe, I always substitute coconut oil, butter, palm shortening, or olive oil depending on the recipe. For most baked goods, I use melted coconut oil, though for savory recipes I do occasionally use extra virgin olive oil. In recipes that call for shortening, I just use palm shortening. And of course, if a recipe calls for margarine, I use butter. In my opinion, using high quality fats vastly improves the taste of most any recipes. And, good fats can make a recipe go from one that damages your body to one that adds a fabulous nutritional boost to your day.

Most recipes call for sugar. While I haven't gone into our reasons for trying to completely avoid white sugar, this article has 25 reasons to avoid sugar to get you thinking along those lines! I usually replace white sugar with sucanat and no one is the wiser. Sucanat is just sugar cane juice that has been dehydrated. It contains vitamins and minerals and is actually healthy in moderation! I have a local source for buying it bulk that is very affordable. We also use local raw honey and organic grade b maple syrup when appropriate.

Most recipes for breads and cookies call for all-purpose flour. I typically just substitute 100% whole wheat flour (preferably organic to avoid GMO's) and we all think they're delicious. For quickbreads, I love using soft white wheat instead of normal hard wheat. It lends a lovely, soft texture very similar to white flour while still providing the nourishing properties of whole grains.

Changing just one of these to a healthier version  in a recipe can make it so much more nourishing. If your family isn't used to these ingredients, you can take it slowly. Try substituting 1/3 whole wheat flour instead of doing 100% all at once and work your way up. My husband, who used to balk at using whole grains in baked goods, now prefers them (score!).

Next week we'll talk about some great homemade substitutes for common some not-so-healthy pre-packaged ingredients!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mary Jo! Your mom and I have been talking about this subject lately...great info!!!