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Healthy Recipes

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am new to the forum and somewhat new to cooking actually. I absolutely love to eat but I am concerned about cholesterol, heart disease and cancer.....they all run in my family unfortunately. I was wondering if anyone had any healthy recipes that also taste good. Any advice or tips are appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #2 of 10
I'm certainly no nutrutional health expert, but I won't let that stop me. The first step, in my opinion, is to start paying attention to what you eat. Read the labels, looking for fat and sodium content, preservatives and such. Try to avoid processed, packaged foods when possible and cook with fresh ingredients. Stir fries that are heavy on the veggies and light on the meat can be quite tasty, just did a beef, broccoli and bell pepper stirfry for dinner. Short grain brown rice is better for you than long grain white, but takes longer to cook, and some folks don't like the sort of nutty, chewy texture, which I prefer over the blandness of white rice.

Onions, garlic, leeks and shallots are good for your health and can add some zing to your meals. Chiles, too, have their benefits. Personally I think that butter and good old lard are better cooking fats than some of the engineered, hydrogenated, processed oils and margarines out there. Trans fats anyone?

Just being aware of what it is you are putting in your body can be big step in staying healthy.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #3 of 10
Welcome Purple,

It's hard to answer questions as general as yours without writing a cookbook.

The most important tip for making healthy food is to use healthy ingredients. Presumably you know what those are, and also which things to avoid.

The fundamental principle of modern cooking is, "Good ingredients taste good to begin with, keep it simple." Honest to goodness, this is the secret that propelled the revolutions of Nouvelle and California Cuisines which underlie the best cooking in the western world.

The things which separate good cooking from bad, aren't subtle. The "secret" is NEVER three drops of lemon juice.

The most important tip to make food taste good is to always taste before you serve -- even to yourself -- and adjust the salt so it's just right. Tasting and seasoning are things most cooks, home and pro, never quite figure out.

You don't need to look for a special diet. If there was some diet that would make you live to a hundred and ten, there'd be a lot more hundred and nine year olds. Go to a big bookstore, find the cookbook section and look around for a cookbook that has some of the foods you like most, presented as simple recipes, with ingredients you think are healthy. Remember, "You like and simple."

If you want people to give you actual recipes, it's helpful to give some guidance in terms of what you like -- the more specific the better. I don't want to give you a recipe for broccoli if you only eat raw bacon and corn syrup.

You don't, do you?
post #4 of 10
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly
complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat
in order to be maximally healthy."
Those are not my words. They were written by Michael Pollan and appeared in an article he wrote for the NY Times in January of 2007 - ...........Michael Pollan............ I would add to that to eat as much natural food as possible - that which is organic, unprocessed, in season, fresh ... you get the point. As has been said, read the labels. In fact, try to buy and eat as much as possible that doesn't have labels - again, fresh vegetables, fruits, wholesome dairy (by that I mean, for example, all yogurt is not created equal - some is loaded with sugar and other additives).

When cooking, keep it simple. Recipes with short ingredient lists are a good way to learn to cook. As BDL suggested, let the food speak - and good, quality ingredients speak the loudest with the clearest message.

The World's Healthiest Foods is a good site to visit. You might want to subscribe to their daily recipe mailing. Every day they'll send you a simple recipe that includes high nutrition foods. Read the information about the various foods in their files, get to know their benefits. Eat with a purpose, not to just fill yourself up.

There is nothing wrong with "unhealthy" foods, butter as an example, which has been on the "hit list" for a long time. Moderation is the solution. On the other hand, not all margerine is loaded with trans fats and other junk. Read the labels - Earth Balance and Smart Balance are two that break the trans fat rule.

Learn about different foods, and how they effect you. Don't eat food your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Find trusted sources for quality foods. There's no reason you can't eat well and eat healthy foods, and have to deny yourself taste, flavor, and pleasure.


P.S. Found this thread that contains some good information:
post #5 of 10
You should probably take a look at Donald Gazzaniga's cookbooks. They're low fat and low sodium, yet with good flavor. Also has some books on low fat and low sodium baking and international cuisine. Also read his sections on figuring out your daily total intake of certain things as you'd be surprised what lurks in your plain water sodium wise. He also has good suggestions on eating out.

Similar to Shel's comments, you'll be filling up on plants and accenting your meals with meat and cheese.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. I am definitely going to look into the book. Do you use his tips and recipes?? Do they taste okay?? Any other recipes or advice are greatly appreciated. I am struggling to enjoy eating my vegetables (have never liked the taste of them). I was wondering if there are good ways to add flavor to veggies without the calories.
post #7 of 10
Hello Purple and welcome!

Roasting veggies is a great way to bring out their flavors and natural sweetness. You can do this with a minimum of oil and salt. For instance, I have made sweet potato "fries" using 1 tablespoon of oil for two large sweet potatoes. I just pour a little puddle of oil in my palm, put some in my other palm, then just toss the sticks with my hands.

Roasting, like reducing a sauce or soup, intensifies all the flavors in the food. For that reason, it's a good idea to hold off salting until the food is a the desired state.

I don't recommend spray agents (like Pam) because roasting often requires rather high temperatures (425 F and up), and the cooking sprays can "weld" themselves to the pan surface. You also don't want to use a Teflon-coated pan on high temperatures either. The material off-gases some nasty stuff, and if you do that often enough, it's unhealthful. (Alton Brown said so, so it must be true!:D)

You can use the roasted veggies in a lot of ways:
As filling for a tart, with cheese and protein (prosciutto, etc.)
As the base for a thick and hearty soup (with vegetable, chicken or beef broth)
As a side dish
As part of a pasta sauce
As part of a casserole

All of these can be made with as little or as much fat as you choose. For more flavor, add herbs (no or less salt necessary), citrus juice and/or citrus zest.

As for fats, remember that FAT IS NOT YOUR ENEMY- per se. There are good (monounsaturated like olive oil) a bad fats (like saturated and trans fats). Moderation is your best strategy, because sometimes there's just no substitute for bacon fat, or butter, or Crisco.
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post #8 of 10
In my experience packaged bacon tends to have a lot of sugars, nitrates and stuff in it. I usually get the thick cut stuff from the meat service counter at the markets I frequent. It seems to be less processed and adulterated than the plastic wrapped national brands.

For a lot of recipes I get a similar, though definitely different flavor by using not bacon fat, but rendering some chunks or slices of salt pork. It doesn't have the touch of smoke flavoring of good bacon, but still yields a decent end result.

One of these days I'll have to take a raw pork belly , cure it and smoke it into homemade bacon.

Gee, discussing bacon and salt pork in a thread on healthy recipes - odd.
But then again, I sort of remember that in general Americans were healthier overall back when bacon and eggs were the standard breakfast, and not sugar-laden, refined and processed carbohydrates from a colorful, eye-catching cardboard box.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #9 of 10
I've in the process of reading the Michael Polin book and find it very good.

Another book that was reccomended to me - it's sort of an easy read, geared toward teenagers - is the book "Chew On This - Everything You Didn't Want to Know About Fast Food," by Eric Schlosser. It discusses, among other things, the target marketing, and explottation, of the fast food chains - especially McDonalds - of children as young as two years old. (It's hard for me to tell if the fast food chains are restaurants, or playgrounds, or toy stores.)

The same authors had previously written a well-received book called "Fast Food Nation."

Very good books for those interested in such things, or for those unaware of such things.
post #10 of 10
Agreed. When buying bacon I buy slab bacon and have it cut to the desired thickness. It's essentially the same bacon as the thick cut that you buy - comes off the same slab - just cut to whatever thickness I want, which is often a little thicker than the standard 1/16-inch or so.

This morning I tried gaunciale for the first time (as a straight substitute for the typical American breakfast bacon). There was some in the fridge for making a pasta dish, so I fried up a few hand cut slices. Never ate it like that before. Really nice flavor and texture. The other day at an in-store promo I tried some Fra'Mani pancetta, and that was mighty good. Pancetta might also be a good alternative to packaged American bacon.

As far as packaged bacon goes, there are numerous brands that are free of the nitrates and nitrites, that are leaner, less salty, and, as a bonus, are thicker than the standard supermarket stuff. Niman Ranch is one choice, Trader Joe's is another, and a third is Welshire Farms. These just off the top of my head and more or less national brands. There are others as well.
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