America is known as a melting pot of cultures that enjoy a variety of ethnic dishes, but some of these recipes can be high in saturated fat and calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers tips on how to cut down on fat while savoring the flavor of traditional family fare.
“Family recipes are usually passed down from one generation to the next, so many of us hesitate to tinker with perfection,” says Cordialis Msora-Kasago, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian nutritionist and a national spokesperson for the Academy. “I encourage my clients to experiment with cooking techniques and flavors to put their own heathy spin on family dishes.”
“Try baking instead of frying your chicken or pork chops,” Msora-Kasago says. “Look for ways to lighten up your dishes and enjoy the natural flavors of food.”
“You don’t have to forgo your favorite dishes in your quest for more healthful meals,” Msora-Kasago says. “Consider swapping less healthful ingredients with more nutritious options.”
Msora-Kasago offers the following tips:
• Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
• Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese
• Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar
• Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins
• Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.
Msora-Kasago’s advice? “Experiment! “Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Your family might not notice the difference. Simple swaps are key to making dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor.”
Savor the Flavor
“Liven up your family meals by trying new spices,” Msora-Kasago says. “Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork. Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.”
Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens or marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling, Msora-Kasago says.
“Don’t bury the natural sweetness of your sweet potatoes under a mound of marshmallows and sugar,” Msora-Kasago says. “Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams.”
“Eating right isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor,” Msora-Kasago says. “Healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures.”
National Nutrition Month® 2019
For National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each March, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits.
For individualized nutritional recommendations, the Academy recommends visiting a registered dietitian nutritionist. Locate an RDN using the Academy’s online Find an Expert service.
Follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.