If you ask a sample of people to name their absolute favorite foods, odds are you won’t be hearing a lot of responses that involve vegetables or salads. Favorite foods earn their statuses for a reason, and typically this reason involves ingredients or components that taste amazing but aren’t especially good for you. Loving an unhealthy food does not necessarily mean you need to stop eating it, however. There are many ways to give healthy updates to traditionally fattening foods, so try tweaking some recipes the next time you’re craving your favorite dish. The following guidelines are ways to put healthy twists on some popular unhealthy favorites:
From children to grandparents, it’s hard to find a person who dislikes pizza. Pizza is one of those dinners that is both quick to order and quick to make yourself, but it is definitely not the healthiest meal to put into your body; between its carbohydrate-filled crust, salty sauce and meats and cholesterol-clogging cheese, there are a lot of components in pizza that are bad for your health. To make a healthier version of pizza, try using a cauliflower crust instead of a bready one. Substituting cauliflower for flour makes pizza much more low-carb and provides a healthy dose of veggies, too.
Think about comfort food and a steaming plate of pasta probably comes to mind. While pasta is delicious, it’s also incredibly high in carbohydrates, so when you pair it with a high-sodium or cream-based sauce you get a double dose of bad nutrition in one dish. One of the best ways to put a healthy twist on pasta is to use squash or zucchini instead of noodles. When you cut these vegetables into ribbons, they have the same texture and consistency of pasta; mix them with some tomato sauce and you won’t even notice the difference.
Most varieties of packaged chips have two things in common: they are extraordinarily high in salt and are usually deep-fried. Although this combination is undeniably delicious it is also undeniably bad for your waistline, blood pressure and cholesterol. To get crunchy, flavorful chips that won’t ruin your diet, try baking sliced white or sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil or cooking spray and spices in the oven. For an even healthier alternative, bake kale pieces instead of potatoes. Either way, you’ll have crispy, delicious snacks that are much lower in sodium content than normal chips.
Quesadillas are one of the most popular Mexican dishes around, and for good reason. It’s hard to say no to a crispy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside tortilla that’s packed with spicy cheeses, meats and vegetables. But the crispiness of a quesadilla often comes at a price: many tortillas are brushed with loads of melted butter before getting thrown in the pan, making them high in saturated fat and cholesterol. To make your quesadillas a little more guilt-free, try substituting cooking spray for butter. You’ll still get a crunchy quesadilla without all of butter’s negative components, and it’s one of those cooking tips that can be applied to dozens of other recipes as well.
This recipe for Baked Eggplant Parmesan is an excellent example of how you can get a crispy, flavorful meal without using any butter. Spraying the eggplant slices with cooking spray instead of dunking them in a high-cholesterol egg wash or dousing them with butter is a low-fat way to create a delicious crust that has all the taste of fried eggplant without all the calories.
Prep Time: 25 min
Total Time: 25 min
Calories per Serving: 202
- 1/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 1 large eggplant, peeled if desired
- PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 14.5 oz can Hunt’s® Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano, undrained
- 1 8 oz can Hunt’s® Tomato Sauce with Basil, Garlic and Oregano
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and set aside.
- Cut eggplant into 12 slices, about 1/2 inch thick. Spray each side of the slices with cooking spray. Coat with bread crumbs on both sides and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until tender, turning once. Top slices evenly with cheese; bake 1 minute more or until cheese has softened.
- Meanwhile, combine undrained tomatoes and sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon tomato mixture evenly into 4 shallow bowls. Place 3 eggplant slices over sauce in each bowl and enjoy!
This recipe is brought to you by PAM. From cooking healthy meals to updating unhealthy recipes, PAM cooking spray makes everything easier. For healthy cooking, grilling and baking tips and recipes, visit www.pamcookingspray.com.