When it comes to making healthier cooking part of your routine, we find that everyone — no matter how zippy of a home cook they may be — needs a little encouragement and inspiration now and again. With that in mind, we tapped our cooking class program’s test kitchen staff for their ideas and tips on making and enjoying healthier dishes.
Rethink your recipes
- Eat more veggies by substituting vegetable noodles or spaghetti squash for traditional pasta.
- Rethink your vegetables-to-meat ratios. Build a meal around vegetables and whole grains, using meat as an accent.
- Low-fat Greek yogurt makes a smart substitute for sour cream or heavy cream in dips and sauces. It has less fat and more nutrients.
- Add a handful of greens, like spinach or kale, to your morning smoothie for an extra nutritional boost.
- Cooking vegetables quickly by steaming or stir-frying preserves more of their nutrients.
- Add fiber and protein to your dish with a sprinkling of whole seeds like chia, sesame or sunflower.
- If you’re in a salad rut, expand your greens repertoire by mixing in watercress, sprouts, radicchio, escarole or endive.
- Reach for heart-healthy oils like olive or canola instead of butter when you sauté. Better yet, use nonstick cookware and skip the added fats altogether.
Opt for flavor, not fillers
- A squeeze of fresh citrus adds plenty of flavorful oomph to finished dishes.
- Skip the pre-made seasonings, which often have a lot of additives. Using your own fresh spices and good quality salt helps you build flavor while controlling what goes into your dish.
- Use a spritzer to dress salads, rather than pouring the dressing straight on, to make sure you’re not using more than you need.
- Try making your own salad dressing. Homemade versions have less fat, salt and additives than the store-bought ones.
- When your sweet tooth pipes up, skip traditional candy bars and opt for a square of dark chocolate. It’s more satisfying, so you’ll eat less of it; plus, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants.
Set yourself up for success
- Rearrange your fridge so that fresh produce is closer to eye level — not hidden away in a drawer.
- Portion snacks out into a bowl or dish. You’ll eat less than if you munch straight from the bag.
- Keep your freezer stocked with frozen veggies. They’re easy to add to meals when you don’t have time to swing by the store.
- Eat a piece of fresh fruit before you eat your lunch or dinner. That way there’s no chance you’ll be too full and skip it.
- Stock up on fresh veggies over the weekend, chop them into snackable pieces and store them in the fridge. When they’re easily accessible, you’ll reach for them when you feel like a snack.
- Keep lunch in mind when you cook dinner. Making more now means you have healthier homemade leftovers to fall back on throughout the week — instead of picking up takeout or ordering delivery.
Do you have any genius tips to share about healthy eating and cooking? Let us know! And if you want more inspiration for healthier cooking, check out our favorite recipes.