Simple cooking, recipe modifications and substitutions

White cake mix and white beans = chewy muffins (the beans replace the oil and eggs!)

I will be teaching “Recipe modification and Menu Planning” and addressing the list of questions, below, to patients at Kaiser. The list, below, is from the instructor who leads the Weight Management program at Kaiser, San Jose.

Click here to read about their program, which – btw – is open to non-Kaiser members.

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My class had a few questions. Here they are:

  • What to do if I am not a cooker?
  • What healthy meals can I put together that don’t require a lot of cooking?
  • Any other healthy eating suggestions for someone that does not cook?
  • Do you have a recipe for low-fat brownies and chocolate cake?
  • What are some healthy snacks that I can take with me since I am always on the ‘go’?
  • What are some low-fat common condiments that I can keep at home?

(my short answers are below, I’ll elaborate in class, and will write more here another time)

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What to do if I am not a cooker? … if I don’t cook?

  • buy healthy pre-made meals that meet your standards (frozen food section and deli’s at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Draegers, New Leaf, Sprouts)
  • have a list of restaurants that serve healthy foods that meet your standards
  • buy ready-made low-sodium condiments to add to foods you cook, such as rice, other grains, meats, fish, poultry (Trader Joe’s is great source)
  • have someone, like me, cook meals for you  🙂

What healthy meals can I put together that don’t require a lot of cooking?

  • roasted veggies and fish
    • requires minimal chopping (or buy pre-chopped veggies)
    • in the oven at 350° for 20 minutes or until soft, requires no babysitting
    • when soft add the fish and cook for another 5 minutes
    • serve with low-fat condiment
  • steamed veggies, beans and grains
    • this is a one-pot meal
    • requires minimal chopping (or buy pre-chopped veggies)
    • use canned beans
    • use fast-cooking grains such as quinoa, long-grain rice
    • on the stove top for 20 minutes, this has a two-part cooking stage: high heat, then low heat, so this requires a bit of attention at the beginning
  • hearty squash soup
    • bake a whole squash at 350° for 30 minutes, cool to touch and put the pulp in pot, add liquid (water, soup broth)
    • or buy pre-made low-sodium squash soup
    • add pre-made lentils (Trader Joe’s)
    • add leftover roasted veggies (from above)
    • add a jar of low-sodium salsa

Any other healthy eating suggestions for someone that does not cook?

  • Too busy? at your desk? When I worked in the newsroom I would keep a ‘fruit basket’ at my desk, complete with apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, zucchinis, carrots, celery … anything I could pick up and eat throughout the day. I also kept a hot water thermos at my desk, so I could have hot teas, hot soups (McDougall’s low-sodium, low-fat dried cup of soup), and cartons of soup (would mix some with hot water), Amy’s soup in the can, ….and yes, I kept a can opener in my desk, ….and yes, sometimes I ate directly from the can).
  • Here is a great resource, click here to read: “How to eat healthy when you don’t cook”
  • buy pre-cooked frozen foods, thaw, mix and match, and heat, add seasoning blend or condiments (see below). Example: veggies, rice and lentils and Italian seasoning blend, or Thai seasoning blend, or Chinese 5 Spice blend.

Do you have a recipe for low-fat brownies and chocolate cake?

  • Black bean fudge brownies: Replace the oil and eggs with just 1 can of no-sodium black beans, blended, no need to drain  — to ANY brownie mix. Sounds good, and fyi — the brownie will definitely be more fudge-like rather than cake-like. (BTW – a can of white beans can be used with a white cake mix, click here to see what I’ve made.)
  • Cake-like brownies: use only the egg whites, omit the egg yolks (egg whites will add more lift and thus create a dryer brownie), use applesauce, yogurt or banana instead of the oil.
  • Low-fat, dairy-free, gluten-free, low sugar, eggless brownies: recipe to come soon, meanwhile, with the recipe you have:
    • replace the egg with flax meal: 1 egg = 1 tbls flax meal and 3 tbls water, mix well
    • replace the flour with gluten-free flour mix (use same measurement)
    • replace the oil with applesauce and or banana, and or black beans (use same measurement, once you make it you’ll be able to adjust the measurements to your liking)

What are some healthy snacks that I can take with me since I am always on the ‘go’?

  • crunchy snacks: sprouted nuts and seeds (has more protein, less carb and less fat)
  • chewy snacks: protein bars (be sure the contents meet your criteria (best to make your own so you control the type of protein powder and the amount of sugars, fats)

What are some low-fat common condiments that I can keep at home?

Words to live by: read the ingredient list before buying, make sure it meets your standards.

  • Dijon mustard
  • Crushed garlic, ginger, horseradish
  • Thai red curry or green curry paste
  • Mole sauce
  • Many ethnic condiments at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, New Leaf
  • BBQ sauces
  • salty sour
  • sweet sour
  • sweet salty
  • spicy
  • etc