Healthy cooking tips for National Nutrition Month

Mar 6, 2019
Nilo Sultani

By Nilo H. Sultani, MS, RD
Clinical Dietitian, Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital

March is National Nutrition Month. If you want to eat a healthy diet, you’ll need to do more than choose the right foods. It’s also important to prepare foods in a healthy way.

There are many different methods to cut cholesterol, trim fat and reduce calories without sacrificing taste or spending all day in the kitchen. Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals, like meat and dairy; while saturated fat is found in foods that come from animals and also tropical foods, like coconut or palm oils. Choosing more plant-based foods can help reduce your cardiovascular risk. Here are a few tips to help you serve more savory dishes that are both heart smart and nutritious:

The way you prepare foods is just as important as the foods that are being prepared.

  • Roast using a rack so the meat or poultry does not sit in its own fat drippings.
  • Baste with fat-free liquids such as wine, tomato juice or lemon juice instead of pan drippings.
  • Stir-fry in a wok with vegetable stock, wine or a little bit of peanut oil.
  • Grill or broil with a rack to allow fat to drip away from the food.
  • Steam foods in a basket over simmering water.
  • Poach chicken or fish by immersing it in simmering liquid.
  • Sauté with a nonstick metal or coated pan over high heat.
  • Use nonstick vegetable spray, a small amount of broth or wine or a little bit of oil rubbed onto the pan using a paper towel.

You can make your favorite recipes more heart healthy by substituting certain ingredients to reduce fat, cholesterol and sodium.

  • Use beans in the place of meat for healthy protein and fiber without any cholesterol or saturated fat. Just remember to rinse well if using canned beans.
  • Instead of heavy cream, use evaporated fat-free milk.
  • Replace sour cream with low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat or nonfat yogurt.
  • Instead of shortening, use olive or canola oil.
  • Swap a whole egg for an egg white plus unsaturated oil, or cholesterol-free egg substitute.
  • Trade whole or two-percent milk for one percent or skim milk.
  • Exchange canned vegetables for fresh or frozen vegetables.
  • Switch to low-fat cheeses.
  • Use lower-cholesterol meats, such as beef round, sirloin, loin and ground beef that is 15-percent fat or less or ground turkey and chicken breast with the skin removed.

Now that you have prepared a mouth-watering, heart-healthy entrée, don’t be tempted to add on butter, sauces or dressings that can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Instead, try some low-fat flavorings to spice up your meal, such as salsa, horseradish, herbs (oregano, basil, cilantro, thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and paprika), mustard, catsup, and reduced fat or nonfat mayonnaise, yogurt or soy sauce.

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