Savory Ways to Cook Fresh and Skip Processed Foods
By Sandy Schroeder
Simple savory homemade recipes can replace many processed foods, helping to lower calories and avoid food additives or excess sodium. Here are some worth considering.
Switch dressings from bottled to fresh – In the maze of bottled dressings on the supermarket shelf, few can top the dressings you can make at home in a few minutes. All you will be missing will be the high cost and a string of shelf-life preservatives. Start by whisking olive oil into vinegar and add fresh herbs or dried seasonings like Dijon mustard, garlic powder or green onions. Then check Epicurious.com to find more easy recipes that incorporate avocados, Greek low fat yogurt or buttermilk.
Swap canned soups for homemade soups – Many versions can be made in 30 minutes or less, and most will give you a much lower sodium count. Start with your favorite vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, lima beans, carrots and onions and create your favorites. For an easy-to-assemble vegetable soup, brown some chopped onions in olive oil, add a dash of garlic powder, and then mix in cooked carrots, green beans, lima beans, spinach and chopped tomatoes with homemade chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. If you like a spicy soup, add red pepper to taste. For another fresh soup, cook chopped fresh cauliflower in olive oil on low heat, blending in low-fat milk and shredded cheese to taste. Keep looking for fresh soup recipes that use the vegetables you prefer. You can freeze individual portions.
Cook your own pasta sauce – Many of the commercial pasta sauces are high in sugar and salt. You can make your own starting with crushed tomatoes available in glass containers, or sautéing fresh chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in olive oil, cooking them down to a thick sauce. Add garlic powder and fresh basil, or oregano. Chopped onions, mushrooms or black olives can be added and sauces can be used for baked lasagna, eggplant or pizza, too.
Create your own flavored yogurts – Skip all of the artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners of the regular yogurts and start with low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt that’s high in protein and very creamy. Then add fruits and flavors that you like such as fresh berries, dark chocolate cocoa powder, chopped dried apricots or cranberries, cinnamon or honey. You could also mix in raisins or nut butters, too.
If these homemade versions appeal to you, keep looking for more ways to swap out processed foods, lowering sodium, fats, sugars and calories.
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