Our Eat More, Burn More community has grown so much. Many of you have had the opportunity to enjoy better, healthier cooking. I couldn’t be more pleased.
Question: Chef, is there a way to convert existing favorite recipes to a healthier, fat-burning version? – Lisa
Answer: Great question, Lisa. So you want to hack a recipe? If you have an existing favorite family recipe that you want to convert for instance, then here is the formula.
First, not all ingredients are problematic. Most vegetables and most proteins are fine, so I usually leave those as is. The issue mostly comes from carbs and fats.
Before testing the recipes I hack, here’s what I usually change:
- I cut down sugar
It depends what the recipe is, but if it contains white sugar, honey, or maple syrup, I definitely cut the quantity down by about half. Who needs sugar, anyway?
- I replace carbs
If the recipe contains white flour, white rice, or white pasta, I always replace that by whole grain flour, brown rice, or whole grain pasta. I also add ingredients that are rich in fiber. For instance, I add beans or lentils to my brown rice. That helps a lot.
- I increase fiber
Again, it depends on what the recipe is, but I usually try to add as much fiber as possible by adding vegetables (especially leafy greens), seeds and nuts, beans and lentils. For instance, add a ton of kale to your chili. I also live the skin of soft-skin vegetables on. So carrots, zucchini, eggplant or even kiwi never get peeled. This makes a big difference.
- I switch flours
If a recipe contains, say 1 cup of white flour, I try testing it with ½ cup of whole grain flour, ¼ cup of coconut flour, and ¼ cup of almond flour. That usually does the trick.
- I reduce fat
I switch to part-skimmed dairy. I cut down any fat to the bare minimum, and usually choose extra-virgin olive oil to sauté or sear things.
- I de-fatten stews, soups, and casseroles
Whenever possible, I apply this awesome trick: I cook a fatty stew on day 1, chill it, and on day 2, I remove the solidified fat that has accumulated at the top.
Question: What is the ingredient to avoid at all costs?– Lenore
Answer: I wish there was a single ingredient we could just get rid of and Voila! But alas, there is no single evil ingredient. Rather, I believe that the key to fat loss is about making smart choices without deprivation. Having said that, I would stay away from ingredients that are high in sugar, and don’t bring much nutrition to your body. For instance: soda, white sugar, white rice, white flour, or most processed foods.
Question: The Zucchini Bread had such an after taste with Stevia as a sweetener, I had to throw it all out! I followed the recipe to a tee, but the Stevia left an after taste. So overpowering. You call it Truvia but I am assuming that it is the same thing as Stevia?? – Nancy
Answer: Truvia is NOT the same as Stevia. Both sweeteners come from the same plant, but their sweetness, taste, and aftertaste is much different. Stevia is much, much sweeter than Truvia and this is why the recipe did not turn out as expected.
As a general rule, substituting sweeteners 1-for-1 usually does NOT work well, unless it has been previously tested. Success only happens through trial and error. I recommend treading lightly when substituting sweeteners.
The bread was flat and dark. Not anything like your photo of light and airy and light in color??? The pigs in a blanket were quite a disappointment too. The dough is like sawdust??! Maybe I am missing something here? In any case, if you have any helpful suggestions I am open. Thanks – Jackie
Answer: In my cookbook, every time I refer to “whole grain” flour, it is meant to be whole grain wheat flour (sometimes referred to as “whole wheat”).
Spelt flour is certainly not the same as wheat flour. I am not surprised the bread and pigs in a blanket didn’t turn out as expected.
Substituting flours 1-for-1 usually does NOT work well. Flours each have their own characteristics, different starch content, and different weight. My recipes have been tested with the flours listed in the ingredient list. Baking with different ingredients may not work.
Now, about that secret I promised…
You see, because so many of you have contacted me with your questions on healthy, fat-burning cooking, I realized that you needed my help. Not a general kind of help, but a more personalized, one-on-one kind of help so that you can learn to cook easily and quickly, while keeping in shape at the same time.
Well, I told my publishers and they have listened. I can’t reveal too much yet, but we are about to transform you into a creative, fat-burning cook in no time! 🙂
In the meantime, Eat More, Burn More!