Everyone has their own “guilty pleasure” foods, whether it be pizza, hamburgers, chips, candy, cookies etc. We all deserve a treat every once in a while, but if we were to indulge in these rich food items each and every day, it could lead to some negative health consequences.
Often times these foods, although delicious, are heavily processed and high in sodium, saturated fats and/or added sugar. Excessive consumption of highly processed foods is known to increase your risk of developing certain diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
There are many simple substitutions you can make to your everyday cooking to make your favorite foods a little healthier; consider:
Swapping butter for unsaturated oils like canola, olive or vegetable oil to reduce your saturated fat intake.
For hamburgers, substitute ground beef with ground turkey, or trying vegetarian based burgers like black bean or soy burgers.
Using whole wheat options instead of white for the added fiber content.
Baking fried foods like chicken or French fries whenever possible to reduce the fat content.
Choosing fiber–rich crackers or air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips.
Making your favorite foods at home, that way you are in full control of the ingredient list and can tweak recipes to make them even healthier.
Baked goods make excellent treats, but are often high in fat and sugar. Consider the following healthier baking substitutions next time you are in the kitchen:
Replace up to ½ of the all-purpose flour in your recipes with whole wheat flour to add some extra fiber to your baked goods.
Use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate whenever possible.
Reduce the amount of sugar in your recipes by up to 25%; typically, a minimal reduction with result in little to no difference in taste.
Substitute equal volumes of yogurt (ideally low-fat, Greek yogurt or skyr) or applesauce for the fats (like oil, margarine, butter) in recipes.
Homemade Whole Wheat Crust
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Toppings: cheese, vegetables, meats
In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well-oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.
Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1×3-inch wedges
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Place sweet potatoes and oil in large bowl, toss lightly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
Arrange potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd.
Bake until tender and golden brown, turning occasionally. Cooking time is 18 to 24 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
Healthier Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips OR raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, followed by the applesauce and vanilla extract.
Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chocolate chips or raisins.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls (approx. 1 tbsp each) of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, flattening each cookie slightly.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.