Warm, holiday comfort foods are great, but not always that healthy. Here are a few simple recipe substitutions that can improve the nutritional value of your favorite holiday soups and stews without sacrificing the taste.Soups & Stews
Heavy Cream: Non-Fat Milk Mix / Cannellini Beans / Sweet Potatoes
Try mixing 1 cup of non-fat milk, 2 tablespoons corn starch, and 1 tablespoon sifted white wheat flour to replace one cup of heavy cream. Just mix the ingredients together and add it to your recipe for thickness. If you're looking for a dairy free alternative, try 1 cup of cannellini beans pureed with 1/4 cup water, or 1 cup of pureed sweet potatoes to add a great texture to any soup or stew. Both cannellini beans and sweet potatoes add slightly different flavor profiles to your recipe so play around to find the right mix.
**Note: Arrowroot can also be a great thickening agent for sauces, gravies, pie fillings and pudding. Combine equal parts arrowroot with cold water and pour it into the liquid you are trying to thicken. Arrowroot works extremely well with recipes that you freeze, but does not pair well with dairy-based ingredients.
Butter: Sunflower, Canola and Olive Oil
Picking the right healthy oil depends on its smoke point, or the temperature at which the oil or fat begins to break down and smoke. For high heat cooking such as browning, use Sunflower oil. For baking, oven cooking or stir frying, use Canola or another medium-high smoke point oil. For light sauteeing and sauces, use olive oil.
Stock: Low Sodium Stock
This may sound extremely basic but using a low sodium stock in your cooking can drastically decrease the sodium levels in your foods with minimal effect on flavor. Besides, if you feel like a recipe needs more salt, adding your own sprinkle of sea salt is always preferred. We recommend purchasing stocks in a paper container, not a can, and reading the label to ensure all of the ingredients are natural whole foods or spices. Pacific Organic makes an incredibly flavorful line of low sodium stocks that we love.
When you're in the kitchen don't be afraid to try new things and tweak old recipes. Substitute an old ingredient for something new and more healthy and see what happens. Just have fun and be creative. Because, if there is one thing we've learned, you never know when you will create the next best recipe.