Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fit FactorY: Healthy Fit Cooking Tips from the American Heart Association

Here are a few cooking tips to stay fit, that I read from the American Heart Association:

1. Don't overcook your veggies. Not only are mushy vegetables unappealling, you also lose the nutrients.

2. Try to sneak in some essential healthy ingredients into your dishes as often as possible, catered to your needs. For instance, if you have mildly higher blood pressure than normal, a dash of cayenne pepper in your dishes may help you.

3. Go low-fat and fat-free as often as possible. A wide array of items now are being offered in this variant in common grocery stores, such as milk, salad dressings, etc.

4. Gulp down some smoothies! Smoothies are EASY to make. Just plunk in some fruits in your blender, whiz it around for a few seconds, add some fat-free yogurt, and you're good to go.

5. Prepared seasonings can have high salt content and increase your risk for high blood pressure. Replace salt with herbs and spices or some of the salt-free seasoning mixes. Use natural alternatives such as lemon juice and citrus for added flavor.

6. Factory canned, processed and preserved vegetables often have very high sodium content. Look for "low-sodium" veggies or try the frozen varieties. Always check and compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label of products and get the one with the least amount of sodium.

7. Substitute! A cup of applesauce or 6 mashed bananas can substitute for a cup of butter/lard/shortening.

8. Choose whole grain for part of your ingredients instead of highly refined products. Use whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and whole cornmeal. Whole-wheat flour can be substituted for up to half of all-purpose flour. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, try 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour.

9. In baking, use plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt or fat-free or low-fat sour cream.

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