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Rachel C Johnson
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Rachel C Johnson

Looking for ways to eat healthier without sacrifice? While some traditional recipes may be heavier in calories and sodium, you can transform almost every dish into a healthy part of a meal. All it requires is some swaps to the recipe along with a balance on your plate. Focus on having 3-5 food groups at meals, including a fiber source plus protein. Using these guidelines and tips to rework your favorite dishes, you can balance any recipe as part of a healthy diet.

Simple swaps to reduce sodium and calories, and improve satisfaction

  • Add extra vegetables

    Vegetables are a quick and versatile ingredient to many soups, pastas, and casseroles. Toss a bag of frozen vegetables in for the last 10 minutes of simmering a soup, or add before baking a casserole. Chop fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and spinach, and add to pasta or other Italian dishes. Celery, carrots, and garlic work well in pot pies and soups. Choose produce that is in season or on sale for an easy, inexpensive source of fiber and nutrition.

  • Make simple swaps to reduce calories 

    Depending on what you are preparing, there are many different swaps you can make to lower calories in recipes. Replace fat source in cake recipes with equal amounts mashed bananas or pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, or lower-fat yogurt or sour cream. If you are making a creamy sauce, add low sodium chicken broth for half of the heavy cream. You can use milk in place of heavy cream as well. Use lower-fat versions of dairy products to reduce some calories. If you can taste the difference and don’t like the final product, try replacing some of the original ingredients (but not all).

  • Season without sodium 

    Use lower- or no-sodium broth or bouillon in place of the regular version. Season your foods using dry seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, garlic or onion powder, or paprika. Use dried or fresh herbs to add even more dimension of flavor. Add in citrus juice (like lemon or lime), or flavored vinegar for a flavorful punch.

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