Is it possible to make a healthy version of mac and cheese without sacrificing taste? Ellie Krieger nutritionist and host of The Cooking Channel's "Healthy Appetite" said "yes!" when she joined me on Mondays With Marlo. The key is to use real cheese, and if you really want to lighten it up, use milk that is thickened with a little bit of flour instead of cream in the sauce. Pureed squash or cauliflower can be folded into the mix to incorporate a vegetable and up the health factor even further.
For more nutritious and delicious eating advice, see Ellie's tips for healthier eating:
Prepare And Freeze Holiday Dishes Ahead Of Time
Avoid a Thanksgiving cooking panic by making some dishes ahead of time and freezing them. Cornbreads and muffins can be made a week before, soups can be frozen for weeks and casseroles and pies can be prepared a day or two before the holiday.
Cut Thanksgiving Calories
You can enjoy your Thanksgiving without overindulging. Fill your plate mostly with vegetables that aren’t covered in cream sauce. Don’t eat too many hors d'oeuvres and do not have seconds. Taking a break from your meal will also help you make smarter decisions at the Thanksgiving table.
Instead of baking with sticks of butter, use fruit and vegetable purees like applesauce, pumpkin puree and carrot puree. These can serve as substitutes for up to half the fat typically used in baking.
Use half whole eggs and half egg whites, or half whole-grain and half all-purpose flour to get the same taste, but with better nutrition.
Make A Healthy Mac And Cheese
Mac and cheese can be both delicious and healthy. Combine real cheese, low-fat milk thickened with flour and pureed butternut squash or cauliflower for a rich taste that is lighter on calories.
Rather than frying fish or fowl, try lightly breading, tossing or spraying it with oil, and then baking it to achieve crispness.
Use A Bit Of Butter
Sometimes you need to use the real thing. A few tablespoons will cover a batch of cookies or pie dough, and one tablespoon will cover creamy mashed potatoes.
Use antioxidant-rich, extra-virgin olive oil or a neutral tasting canola oil for stir fries and baking.
Add Whole Grain
Use whole-grain pasta, brown rice or whole-grain bread instead of their refined white counterparts. These choices boost fiber, antioxidants and minerals in a dish and keep you feeling fuller longer.
Have A Fast, Healthy Breakfast
If you're always rushing in the morning, but you still want something healthy for breakfast, choose a smoothie. Keep frozen fruit on hand and add milk or yogurt and peanut butter for a quick, tasty breakfast on the go.
Keep It Real
Don’t be afraid to use real bacon or real dairy, like full-fat whipped cream. Use these “rarely” ingredients in minimal amounts for maximum impact.
Use unrefined sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and molasses. These sugar alternatives will give your blood sugar a gentler rise, but you should still use them sparingly.
Think CTP (Cut-Trim-Portion)
For red meat, you should buy the leanest cut possible, trim off all of the visible fat and cook sensible portions.
Be A Cheese Whiz
Cheese is to be used strategically. Always use real cheese for flavor and easy melting, but just use less to cut fat, calories and sodium.
Go Low Slow
The best way to rein in sodium is to start with good flavor by focusing on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Add salty ingredients sparingly, and then just enough salt at the end.
Get Creamy (Nearly) Creamlessly
Use low-fat milk thickened with flour or cornstarch along with evaporated milk for cream sauces, soups and puddings. Reduced fat sour cream also ups the cream factor with less fat and no artificial ingredients.
Measure out servings and keep an eye on portions. Most of us have grown accustomed to much bigger servings of food than we need.
Boost Veggies and Beans
Add extra beans and veggies to meals and cut back on high-cal starches and meats.
Cook To Keep Nutrients And Lose Fat
Steam or microwave vegetables to retain their nutrients. Broil or boil higher-fat meats to render and discard the fat.
Reverse Your Eating Regimen
You want to get most of your calories when you need them to be active for the day. Eat a plentiful breakfast and keep your dinner modest. Pick a cut-off time for eating at night, so you’ll be hungry for breakfast when you wake up in the morning.
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