You are here

Healthy Substitutes for Cooking Ingredients

September 4, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about healthy substitution for cooking ingredients, and other tips. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family, today we're speaking with Dr. Will Evans, Professor of Health Promotion and Department Head of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion.

Dr. Evans, what are some healthy choices we can make for cooking techniques?

Will Evans: Try to use a smaller plate. That way we don't have as much room to pile extra food on, we can stop eating when we begin to feel full, and limit our dessert to one option instead of trying every cake or pie. Try and get over five servings of vegetables and fruits, since there should be an abundance of those available, and you can choose a salad prepared with lighter dressing or oil and vinegar versus heavy mayonnaise based. And baked or roasted meats versus fried options.

In preparing foods, think of reducing the butter, fat, or other contents where you can, and perhaps substitute Splenda in place of table sugar for baking, because it tastes just as good, and has almost no calories. Use Splenda or other sugar substitutes, or take our tea, and cut it half and half with sweet and unsweet. Or just choose water.

Choose lighter desserts and limit portions to a reasonable side, and if you want a brownie, try eating just one instead of four, or one cookie versus several. Getting some nut servings is always good due to their heart healthy reputation, and in addition, substitute sweet potato casserole for a dessert, rather than cake with icing on it.

Choose some raw options if they're available, like carrot sticks or apple slices, and also use real whipping cream over cool whip, as cool whip is really hydrogenated oil, and go easy on the alcohol.

Amy Myers: Let's talk about dairy products for a moment, what's your take on using reduced fat or fat free cheese, cream cheese, and other ingredients?

Will Evans: Try and find some fat free options. Reduced fat or a fat free cream cheese is an option, or reduced fat butter options. Even the reduced salt butter is a good idea, because Americans get way too much sodium. Use a lighter whipping cream, or reduced fat whipping cream, in place of full whipping cream. Use skim milk or reduced fat milk instead of whole milk, reduced fat cheese, even fat free cheese products taste about the same.

And for ice cream, as a substitute go for low fat yogurt. You can add walnuts, or granola, or flax seed, which have all been shown to have a positive health benefit.

Amy Myers: What about other ingredients, like mayonnaise and cooking oils?

Will Evans: You can find some fat free options. Miracle Whip might not be everyone's favorite on a sandwich, but it may taste the same in a recipe such as a dip or casserole. And you can opt for fat free mayonnaise as a good compromise, or even the mayonnaise made with olive oil, which is better for you. And instead of using canola or vegetable oil in cakes or brownies, you can use plain or vanilla yogurt instead.

Some folks even replace cooking oils with apple sauce in their baked goods. But remember, if you use those substitutes, it can often take less time for them to prepare, so take them out of the oven 10 or 15 minutes sooner than you normally would.

Amy Myers: How can we cut down on sugar and salt?

Will Evans: With jellies and jams, sugar free or low sugar options are available at the store. Same for canned fruit, you can always look for low sodium items with canned vegetables, and certainly with juices and tomato juice. IF you need tomato juice, try making your own using less salt. Sometimes you can avoid using salt at all but on many occasions there are other herbs and spices that can be used instead, that are not only tasty, but good for you.

Again with juice, punch, or other beverages, stick with sugar free sweeteners like Stevia. Avoid those like saccharine or equal, those tend to have more problems.

Amy Myers: And of course, fattening meat produces seem to be in more recipes than we can count. How can we choose healthier meat products?

Will Evans: Always drain the fat away as you're cooking. Replace pork bacon with turkey bacon, instead of fatty pork sausage, try turkey sausage. Ground turkey is also available in stores, and you can shop for the 98% lean ground meat. And if not available usually there's an 80% lean option which has lower fat.

For canned chili, use a 98% fat free turkey chili, and when cooking roasts, choose a lean pork loin, or at least be sure to cut off the excess fat before cooking.

Amy Myers: What about food safety?

Will Evans: We're dealing with a lot of hot items. We wanna keep those outside of the grab range of those smaller children. Limit the number of cooks in the kitchen as well, so you're not bumping into one another and creating a safety issue, based on the number of people. Food safety is something we need to think about.

The longest period of time you should leave any casserole or cooked food out is probably two hours, and I would aim for less than two, and try to get those back in refrigeration.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Will Evans, Professor of Health Promotion. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

Select Your County Office