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Healthy Cooking and Snacking

Family cooking a healthy meal

Food doesn’t have to be high in fat to be good. Get the whole family to help slice, dice, and chop, and learn how to cut fat and calories in some foods. You’d be surprised how easy heart healthy cooking and snacking can be.

On this page you’ll find ideas for healthy snacks, tips for healthy cooking, and food options with less fat and fewer calories.

Healthy Family Snacks

Try these tips for quick and easy snacks:

  • Toss sliced apples, berries, bananas, or whole-grain cereal on top of fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
  • Put a slice of fat-free or low-fat cheese on top of whole-grain crackers.
  • Make a whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.
  • Pop some fat-free or low-fat popcorn.
  • Microwave or toast a soft whole grain tortilla with fat-free or low-fat cheese and sliced peppers and mushrooms to make a mini-burrito or quesadilla.
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat chocolate milk (blend it with a banana or strawberries and some ice for a smoothie).

Healthy Cooking Tips

Make a few changes in the kitchen and you'll be eating healthy in no time.

Tips for reducing fat

  • Instead of frying, try baking, broiling, boiling, or microwaving.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk products, salad dressings, and mayonnaise.
  • Add salsa on a baked potato instead of butter or sour cream.
  • Remove skin from poultry (like chicken or turkey) and do not eat it.
  • Cool soups and gravies and skim off fat before reheating them.

For more healthy snack ideas, see our Healthy Snacks—100 Calories or Less tip sheetpdf document icon (81 KB).

Tips for reducing sugar

  • Serve fruit instead of cookies or ice cream for dessert.
  • Eat fruits canned in their own juice rather than syrup.
  • Reduce sugar in recipes by 1/4 to 1/3. If a recipe says 1 cup, use 2/3 cup.
  • To enhance the flavor when sugar is reduced, add vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg.

Healthy Baking and Cooking Substitutes

Cut the fat and sugar in your meals by using these substitutes.

Instead of: Substitute:
1 cup cream 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup butter, margarine, or oil 1/2 cup apple butter or applesauce
1 egg 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute
Pastry dough Graham cracker crumb crust
Butter, margarine, or vegetable oil for sautéing Cooking spray, chicken broth, or a small amount of olive oil
Bacon Lean turkey bacon
Ground beef Extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
Sour cream Fat-free sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips 1/4 - 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup sugar 3/4 cup sugar (this works with nearly everything except yeast breads)
1 cup mayonnaise 1 cup fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 cup whole milk 1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup cream cheese 1/2 cup ricotta cheese pureed with 1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese
Oil and vinegar dressing with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar 1 part olive oil + 1 part vinegar (preferably a flavored vinegar, such as balsamic) + 1 part orange juice
Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce) 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or margarine

Note: Substitute the ingredients in your own favorite recipes to lower the amounts of fat, added sugar, and calories.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013

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