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Best Ways to Prepare Healthier Versions of your Favorite Meals

Eating well doesn't have to mean giving up your favorite foods. Many recipes and meals can be lightened simply by altering their ingredients. To start making lighter versions of your favorites, follow these tips:
 
- Change the Fat. Recipes that are high in saturated fat can be made healthier by choosing a different oil. Never use solid fats, opting instead for liquids, which have more healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is a great go-to healthy fat, but you can also experiment with avocado and peanut oils for cooking, flax seed and pumpkin seed oil for salad dressings and other oils that are high in monounsaturated fats.
 
- Skinny Your Dairy. Instead of buying whole fat dairy products look for 2 percent or skim. If you're worried about altering the taste of your foods too dramatically, start by using half low fat dairy and half whole fat dairy.
 
- Look for Lean. When you're selecting meats, opt for cuts that are lower in fat and calories. Buy your chicken breasts and thighs boneless and skinless and look for beef with no more than 10 grams of total fat per serving. The best choices include eye of round, sirloin, top round, bottom round and top sirloin. Swapping seafood or ground turkey for less healthy foods will also lighten up a recipe.
 
- Sneak in More Veggies and Fruit. Look for ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your recipes. Making spaghetti sauce? Why not chop up carrots and zucchini to stir in or add some finely chopped kale? Try adding fruit to your salads or using fresh fruit as a salsa on the side of various foods. Try to find a way to incorporate at least one extra fruit or veggie into your favorite meals whether it's mixed into the dish or used as a side.
 
- Go for Grains. Stop using products that contain enriched flour, opting instead for whole wheat alternatives. You can find everything from spaghetti to pizza crust to tortillas in whole wheat varieties in the grocery store, and these products are far more nutritious than their white flour alternatives. When you're making recipes, try experimenting with whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, using roughly 3/4 of a cup of the whole grain variety for every cup of the white stuff the recipe calls for. Whole wheat flour is denser, so you may need to use more liquids when you're baking with it to get the best results. Another option is to use white whole wheat flour, which is made from albino wheat. It provides whole grain benefits but is more similar in consistency to all-purpose flour.
 
Keep in mind that modifying recipes can sometimes lead to cooking disasters. When a swap doesn't result in the most delicious dish, chalk it up to a learning experience and then order some healthy takeout. Revisit the recipe and try to re-modify for next time.

 
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