Family recipes are favorites that are usually hard to modify because everyone loves them the way they have always been prepared.
I still remember like it was yesterday, when my grandmother began our favorite rice and beans recipe by pouring oil on the bottom of a large caldero, an aluminum cauldron. This rice and beans recipe was quickly devoured by all of our family members and considered to be the absolute best. And my grandmother considered that adding oil to the rice and beans was a necessary ingredient because, without it, the rice and beans would not cook properly. After many years of creating the same recipe, I now know that a lot of oil was not a necessary ingredient at all, and that our favorite rice and beans recipe could be made with less oil and taste just as delicious.
Often, we feel scared to make any modifications to our family recipes because we fear our family will get offended, and that money would be wasted because the changes wouldn’t be enjoyed. If you consider yourself to be inexperienced in the kitchen, this may be quite a challenge. For this reason, it’s understandable that swapping ingredients might not be the first option you’d consider. However, today I hope to change that. I have created a chart to guide easy substitutions that can help turn your favorite recipes into more healthy food recipes without offending your family or wasting your paycheck on ‘failed’ kitchen experiments.
Here are the ABC’s of making recipes a little healthier:
- Familiarize yourself with the recipe first by reading it from top to bottom before getting started. Research any questions you may have.
- Gather all your ingredients and prepping/cooking equipment before getting started.
- Research beforehand what ingredients can be substituted for a lower calorie ingredient without ruining your recipe (see table below).
- Allow yourself sufficient time to prepare, cook and serve.
- Store any leftovers (e.g., freezing).
Easy substitutions to turn family favorite recipes into more healthy food recipes:
Abuelita’s Flan Recipe
Here is a family favorite flan recipe that I’ve modified to be a more healthy food recipe. (Note: this recipe serves 8.)
- 1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- 1 (14 oz) can low fat condensed milk
- 1 (12 oz) can skim evaporated milk
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon reduced fat cream cheese
- In a small saucepan, melt the SPLENDA® Sweetener and immediately pour over pie pan to cover the bottom.
- Meanwhile, in a blender, add all the remaining ingredients and blend for about 30 seconds or until well blended.
- Pour over the prepared pie pan and place the pie pan over a water bath by using a large aluminum pan with water and placing the full pie pan over the aluminum pan and place in the oven.
- Bake at 350o F for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
Sylvia Meléndez Klinger, MS, RD, LDN, CPT is founder of Hispanic Food Communications, Inc., a nutrition and food communications consulting company. A Hispanic native who is a leading expert in cross-cultural Hispanic cuisine as it relates to nutrition and health, Sylvia uses her in-depth culinary and cultural expertise to introduce new strategies for wellness to an increasingly health-conscious Hispanic population. For more than a decade, Sylvia has been a consultant for major food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations.