Thursday, September 5, 2013

Healthy Food Substitutions with Lake County General Health District

Cori Kitaura of the Lake County General Health District visited the library Wednesday to talk about some of the ways people can get healthier by changing some of their cooking habits.

She didn’t say that you could never have a steak or cake again. After all, almost any food is OK as an occasional treat. Instead, she made some recommendations that modify your favorite foods and make them healthier.

For example, fried chicken is delicious, but so is roasted or steamed chicken; and the latter options have fewer calories and less fat than their fried counterpart.

You can also eat healthier by remembering to cut excess fat off of meat, removing the skin from chicken, or rinsing canned vegetables – which tend to be bathed in salt – before you cook and eat them.

Cori also suggested some substitutions that can make some of your favorite recipes healthier. While they will taste a little different, they’ll still be delicious – and a lot better for you.

Her tips include:
  • using applesauce, prune puree, mashed bananas or avocados, or even black beans as a substitute for butter, margarine, oil, shortening or other solid fats while baking. (A note: If you do this, you may need to reduce the baking time by about 25 percent. The substitutions cook faster than solid fats.)
  • instead of canned vegetables, use frozen vegetables without sauces.
  • substituting low- or no-fat dairy products for their whole- or full-fat counterparts. (Exception: while fat-free plain yogurt can sometimes be used as a substitute for sour cream, bear in mind that yogurt isn't heat stable so you can't really cook with it.)
  • swapping in pureed fruit or no-sugar-added applesauce for syrup.
  • reducing the amount of sugar in the baked goods you make by anywhere between a fourth and third. Cinnamon, vanilla and almond extract also can add sweetness without adding sugar. (You don't want to remove all the sugar from yeast breads because the sugar provides food for the yeast.)
  • eating romaine lettuce, endive or baby spinach instead of the nutrient-devoid iceberg lettuce.
  • using whole grain, brown rice, wild rice, whole cornmeal (not degermed,) whole barley, bulgur, kasha, quinoa or whole-wheat couscous instead of white rice or enriched grains.
More healthy tips are available at the Cleveland Food Bank website.

Speaking of Cleveland Food Bank, Mentor Public Library is participating with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and organizations all around the state for Feed Ohio 2013.

Throught Sept. 11, you can donate nonperishable food items at any MPL branch and they will go to a local food pantries.

For more information on events and programs at Mentor Public Library, visit

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