Preparing Healthy Meals on a Low Income Budget

Most people you talk to would agree that eating healthy is important and vital for proper body maintenance and function. A lot of people, who would agree, wish they could prepare healthier meals themselves, though they look at their current grocery bills and think cooking healthier is much too expensive. Although food prices have gone up tremendously in the last ten years, cooking healthy meals while on a tight budget is not out of the question if you are willing to include a few extra steps to your shopping, and food preparation routine. Read the following tips for a starting point on the road to healthier cooking.

1. Evaluate Your Spending
• Eat out less/ learn to make your restaurant favorites at home
– Even eating 2 meals at home during the week that you’d normally eat out can save you anywhere from 15-30 dollars a week!  That savings  can be used to buy healthier grocery store items like a variety of fresh veggies or lean meats that you may have had to skip otherwise
• Cut out the junk
– Try to cut out as much food that is highly processed and or contains large amounts of refined sugars as possible. These foods often include crackers, frozen dinners, soda, or other packaged foods. Although these foods are convenient to make, leaving them out of your cart will not only help your health, but also your budget; as these foods are often what racks up a grocery bill.
Shop the perimeter of the store first
– The perimeter of the grocery store is where the fresher foods are located. When it comes to cooking healthier fresh foods are almost always better than their packaged counterparts. Filling up your cart with fresh foods first will make you more apt to buy the healthier options and skip out on the junk.
2. Buy Healthier Inexpensive Foods
•  Go for the ones that are  as close to the way the earth made them as possible. This includes fresh or frozen produce, lean meats, beans and grains. These kinds of foods are typically  high in nutrients like protein and vitamins and minerals but low in sodium, and fat content. For a longer list of healthy inexpensive foods, click on the link above.

3. Shop Smarter
• Look for resources that might help you save money on food. This can include searching out coupons, locating and attending your local farmers market, or finding a discounted food store in your area. Click the link in the title for more ideas on how you can be a smarter shopper

4. Buy in Bulk
• Save money by buying items in larger volumes. Before buying make sure you always calculate the price and serving ration out to be sure you are truly getting a good deal.

5. Stretch Your Money When You Cook
• Cooking meals in bulk can help you stretch expensive foods like meats farther, saving you money.
• Make new meals from previous ones. This can help when your family starts to get bored of leftovers, and can also ensure you use up ingredients like produce when they are on the verge of spoiling; making sure you get your money’s worth from your food.

6. Make a Meal Plan
• This step in the process is absolutely crucial for eating better on a tight budget especially so when you are trying to feed a family. Planning out your meals for the next week, two weeks, or even month can ensure you buy only the things you will need each week at the grocery store, saving you money. It will also help reduce that tired, after work panic when you need to get supper going, but are not sure what to make. With your meals planned out, you will know exactly what needs to be done, and you can even make meals ahead of time. This will reduce the likelihood that you will settle for the easy highly processed less nutritious prepackaged meal, and instead allow you to provide your family with a healthy balanced meal.

I hope these tips will help in the quest for making healthier meals at low budget prices. Be sure to explore my links for more ideas, on ways in which we can make cooking healthier!

Advertisements

April 7th Weekly Reflection

For my project this week, I created five posts that all centered on general healthy cooking tips. I began with general cooking tips that explain how reduce the amount of fat and salt in cooking. My next post offered general substitution ideas that can be used to make meals healthier, an example being switching processed cheese for natural real cheese. Staying on this same track I included a post that provides ideas on adding produce to your meals to make them healthier. Using some of the ideas from these posts, I created two posts explaining the methods and results to that came from my  two trials this week. These posts are A Better Grilled Cheese, and Make a Better Pasta Dish.

I have to say that everything went really very well for me this week. I posted all of the things I wanted to, and feel I included adequate information in each post. One thing I did this week, that made organizing my thoughts a little easier, was starting all of the posts at the same time as word documents, and just working on them all at the same time throughout the week. As a lot of this information can overlap, I was able to add and exchange information between posts creating a more organized layout using this method. As a result, I posted all of my posts the same day. I’m not entirely sure if that is an acceptable method for this project, but it certainly was convenient for me.

Next, I will be starting my two week long exploration of eating healthier while on a budget. I am extremely excited for this topic. I have had many people ask me already about what they can cook that is cheap but also healthy. Being a poor college student myself, I am eager to gain some insight on this topic for my own personal use. This week will likely not contain any trials. Instead I’m thinking I may include a summery of a scholarly article about poverty and nutrition or something similar.

Make a Better Pasta Dish

As I have been looking at a variety of ways in which to make cooking healthier this week, I decided to do a trial using a few different suggestions I have talked about. For this trial, I subbed out ingredients, as well as added veggies in hopes of improving the health quality of one of my favorite simple dishes; pasta and red sauce with meat.

When I traditionally make pasta, I use three staple ingredients; ground beef, regular pasta noodles, and a simple red sauce. For this trial is instead used, Italian ground turkey, whole wheat pasta noodles, and a veggie puree loaded red sauce containing over half of my recommended daily amount of veggies.

pasta 1

My preparation of this dish was as you would expect. I cooked the noodles as indicated on the package to “firm”. I seasoned and browned the ground turkey just as I would with beef, using onion, garlic, pepper, a little salt, and Italian seasoning. Once browned I added in the jar of pasta sauce, and allowed to warm on low while my pasta was cooking. Once warmed I seasoned the sauce to taste with a little more Italian seasoning. Once the noodles were cooked, drained, and added back to the pot, I added the red sauce mixing it in with the cooked noodles.

pasta

This was the first time I had ever used ground poultry in my cooking and was a little worried about it possibly having a lack in flavor compared with beef. I was pleasantly surprised, however, in that the ground turkey really had a great flavor, and a very similar texture to that of ground beef. In regards to the noodles and red sauce, I really didn’t notice any difference or lack of flavor at all.

Being that the meal contained great flavor, and similar texture to that of my usual pasta, I would say that these changes were successful. I will certainly be usually these healthier alternatives more often in my cooking, and I encourage you to try them out as well!

A Better Grilled Cheese

This week I looked at ways cooking can be healthier in general. Some of the ways in which cooking can be made healthier are: switching ingredients, adding or subtracting ingredients, or changing cooking methods. For this trial I decided to take a classic favorite, grilled cheese, and add vegetables to boost the nutritional value of the sandwich.

For my enhanced sandwich, I used: two pieces of whole wheat bread, an Italian shredded natural cheese blend, a few slices of tomato, and about a half cup of spinach. If you’re using shredded cheese like I did, I recommend layering the cheese in between all of your ingredients, and putting a layer of cheese touching eat piece of bread

grilled cheese

Instead of using butter to fry my sandwich, I tried just spraying the pan with olive oil cooking spray and the bread fried up nice and brown with out getting soggy and greasy like it does with butter. I also fried it on a slightly lower heat setting (about one notch lower to be exact) than I normally do, so that the cheese all the way through would be able to melt without the bread frying too quickly.

grilled cheese 2

One thing you will notice about my results is that the sandwich is really quite thin. The ingredients, especially greens like spinach, shrink down quite a bit so don’t be afraid to load them on.

I had never tried this kind of alternative grilled cheese before, and I have to say I am definitely hooked. The great thing about grilled cheese, is that there are about a million different combinations of things to add to the sandwich. This kind of cooking is definitely a good way to be creative. you will notice I had few slices of mango as a side to my sandwich, maybe next time I will try mango in my sandwich! (gasp)
My sister-in-law says she makes a version using left over pesto spread in the summer. The possibilities are truly endless, so stock up on your favorite vegetables (or fruit) and see what you can create and then, please come back and share your delicious ideas!

How to Incorporate Produce to Make Meals Healthier

This week, I’ve been looking at different ways in which we can make cooking healthier. Specifically, looking in terms of how we make our food, and what we can add to it or subtract from it to make it healthier.

Adding vegetables or even fruits to your meals is a simple thing to do to make your meals healthier overall. The idea behind this is pretty simple. Not only are produce loaded with vitamins and minerals necessary for proper body function, using them in your food also displaces more fat and calorie dense foods like meat, cheese, pasta etc, allowing you to fill up with less fat, sodium, and calories. This post will explore ideas for incorporating produce in your cooking.

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, are extremely versatile ingredients that can be slipped into a variety of dishes you already make. Here are a few examples:

Grilled Cheese ( or other sandwiches)
Add in your favorite vegetables and use slightly less cheese to give this classic a boost. Take a look at my posting A Better Grilled Cheese for my take on a healthier grilled cheese.

Pasta
Next time you decide to make some pasta try throwing in some frozen veggies for a complete meal in one dish. For a better mac and cheese trying wilting down some spinach to add in for a guilt free treat.

Baked dishes like hotdish or casseroles
Add a bag of frozen veggies, or chopped greens, to your next hotdish or casserole, sky is the limit to what you can do.

Soups
Along with hotdish, Soups are a canvas in which food art can be created. Go crazy. Add in whatever veggies you can get your hands on. A soup is a great way to use up those greens in the fridge that are starting to wilt.

Now. What do you do if you live in a household of veggie haters, but want to feed them meals that will provide the nutrients they need to stay healthy? The easiest way to add veggies to your cooking undetected is to puree them and then add them to your family favorites:

This week I tried out a store bought pasta sauce that contained over half of a daily serving of vegetables in a single serving of sauce. There was no detectable difference from a regular spaghetti sauce. To read about my trial click here. For a homemade sauce recipe containing a variety of pureed veggies, try out this recommended recipe from Mommy’sKitchen.net.

For more ideas on how to sneak veggies into your cooking, explore cites like mommy’skitchen.net, or books like Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld that are loaded with more tried, successful recipes from mom’s of picky eaters.

Thanks for stopping, The world of cooking is your oyster, get creative with vegetables in your cooking, and then please come back to share your experiences!

Cooking Subsitutions for Healthier Meals

This week, I’ve been looking at different ways in which we can make cooking healthier. Specifically looking in terms of how we make our food, and what we can add to it or subtract from it to make it healthier.
Cooking Substitutions for Healthier Meals
• Egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs.

– Although eggs in themselves are a better choice for breakfast protein than meat, making your recipes or egg dishes with egg whites instead of egg yolks, or an egg substitute can further lower the fat and cholesterol content. Note: Substitute two egg whites for each egg yolk.
• Real cheese instead of processed cheese.

– Instead of using processed cheeses (which are loaded with nasty preservatives and salt) in your cooking, use the all-natural varieties either brick or shredded. Note: try using natural cheese in place of processed cheese, in a healthier version of grilled cheese. Visit this A Better Grilled Cheese post for ideas.
• Brown rice for white rice

– When white rice is processed, the “brown” bran layer gets stripped away, cutting out essential nutrients (like fiber). Opt for brown rice for a fuller nutritional profile.
• Quinoa for couscous

– While couscous is made from processed wheat flour, quinoa is a whole-grain superfood packed with protein and nutrients. Bonus points: They have almost the exact same texture.
• Olive oil for butter

– when cooking eggs, subbing in oil for butter is a simple switch and is a great way to cut down on saturated fats while getting a healthy dose of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Turnip mash for mashed potatoes

– While one cup of mashed potatoes made with whole milk racks up about 180 calories (and that’s before the inevitable salt and butter), a cup of mashed turnip (which doesn’t need milk or butter to get that creamy consistency) has only 51 calories. Add some fresh herbs in place of the salt and it’s a much healthier stand-in for classic mash.
or
• Mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes

– Just like the turnip mash, mashed cauliflower has only a fraction of the calories of potatoes and it’s nearly impossible to taste the difference. Got picky eaters at the table? Try mixing half potato, half cauliflower.
• Rolled oats for breadcrumbs

– While breadcrumbs can pack extra sodium, using rolled oats seasoned with herbs is a great way to sneak another whole grain into any meal.

• Dry beans for canned beans

– Canned beans are convenient, sure, but they also tend to have excess sodium and plenty of preservatives. Plus, even though the canned versions are dirt cheap, dried beans are even cheaper! It may take a little more work (just some simple soaking and boiling), but this switch is still well worth it.
Whole wheat pasta for regular pasta

– Just as with bread, whole wheat pasta beats regular with a higher fiber content and about 50 fewer calories per serving (depending on the brand).
• White-meat, skinless poultry for dark-meat poultry

– The biggest chicken debate to date: white meat vs. dark meat. And the white meat has it beat — lower in calories and fat, higher in protein and iron.
• Olive oil spray for olive oil from the bottle

– Oil glugs out of the bottle, leading to overly-greasy dishes. Using a spray bottle is a great way to cut down on oil while still getting the non-stick benefits. A little mist is all that’s needed!
• Bison for beef

– Higher in B vitamins and lower in fat, bison is a great substitute for the ol’ beefy standard. (When available, of course.)
Ground poultry for ground beef

– Ground turkey or chicken is a great substitute for ground beef to cut down on saturated fat and calories. Reminder: Because of the lower fat content, ground poultry often ends up drier than beef, but a few tablespoons of chicken stock can solve the problem in a snap!
• Coconut milk for cream

– Coconut milk is a great substitute for heavy cream in soups and stews. And don’t be turned off by the word “coconut” — it doesn’t taste like the sweetened shredded kind!
• Greek yogurt for sour cream

– Half the fat and calories, yet the taste and texture are virtually identical. Plus, nonfat Greek yogurt offers an extra dose of lean protein.
• Arugula, romaine, spinach, and/or kale for iceberg lettuce

– All greens are not created equal. Darker greens usually mean more nutrients like iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Sorry, iceberg’s just not cutting it anymore — go out and get some grown-up greens.
• Pita for bread

– One 4-inch whole-wheat pita runs around 80 calories and only 1 gram of fat (though there is some variation from brand to brand). Two slices of whole-wheat bread typically comes in at around 138 calories!
• Greek yogurt for mayo

– Great in chicken or tuna salad, add some herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice, and they’ll taste almost identical. Plus, this swap will save on calories and fat, and provide an extra dose of protein.
• Plain yogurt with fresh fruit for flavored yogurt

– Pre-flavored yogurts often come packed with extra sugar. To skip the sugar rush without sacrificing flavor, opt for plain yogurt (or better yet, plain Greek yogurt) and add fresh fruit and/or honey or agave for a hint of sweetness.
• Nuts for croutons in salads

– Every salad needs that extra crunch. But rather than getting the extra carbs (and often fat and sodium) that come with croutons, try some lightly toasted slivered almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
• Whole wheat bread for white bread

– You’ve heard it all before, but it’s just that important! Whole-grain wheat beats out processed white with a complete nutrition profile and better flavor and texture.
• Mashed Avacado for mayo

– Half a mashed avocado is a great substitute for mayo on any sandwich. Both give some moisture, but avocado packs a big dose of vitamin E and cholesterol-checking monosaturated fat. And while a typical two-tablespoon serving of mayonnaise has about 206 calories and 24 grams of fat, half an avocado has only 114 calories and 10.5 grams of fat.
• Steel-cut oatmeal for instant oatmeal

– Chewy and a little crunchy, these guys are nothing like their instant oatmeal cousins. While rolled oats are — literally — rolled into a flat grain, steel cut oats are diced whole grains that
• Sweet potato fries for French fries

– Opting for sweet potatoes rather than the traditional white adds an extra dose of fiber, and vitamins A, C, and B6. Plus, it cuts out roughly 20 grams of carbohydrates per one-cup serving. Just don’t overdo it!
• Low-fat cottage cheese for sour cream

– They both add a creamy texture to many dishes, but sour cream is packed with fat while low-fat cottage cheese is packed with protein.
• Pureed fruit for syrup

– Both sweeten flapjacks or a nice whole-wheat waffle, but pureed fruit warmed on the stove-top with a bit of honey packs much less sugar than classic maple. Plus, it provides an extra dose of antioxidants and vitamins.

How to Reduce the Amount of Fat and Sodium in Your Cooking

This week, I’ve been looking at different ways in which we can make cooking healthier. Specifically, looking in terms of how we make our food, and what we can add to it or subtract from it to make it healthier. <br

Alternative Cooking methods for healthier meals

One great webpage I found regarding the topic of healthier cooking methods was Healthier Preparation Methods for Cooking from Heart.org. This page provides a lot of great information about many different areas of healthier cooking.

With the exception of sweet foods, the main reasons foods are considered unhealthy are because they are high in trans or saturated fats, and/or high in salt content. According to heart.org, consuming a high amount of sodium, and trans/saturated fats have been shown to increase blood pressure, and bad cholesterol levels in the body, putting people at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and obesity.

Although eating out is a convenient way to sustain yourself in your busy life, restaurant meals often contain an outlandish amount of sodium and unhealthy fats. The best way to control what ingredients go into the food you eat is to cook your own meals (obviously). So, instead of heading straight for the salt shaker and Crisco to season and cook your home-cooked meals, think about trying out the following general cooking tips that reduce the amount of salt and fat used in food preparation.
To reduce salt and fat in your cooking:

Use fresh herbs and spice rubs.
o Avoid using prepackaged seasoning mixes because they often contain a lot of salt. Instead, use fresh herbs whenever possible. Also, dishes that only use salt for seasoning are usually not very notable. Using fresh herb or dried spice combinations allows you to use less salt in your cooking while also making the flavor a lot more exciting. Note: Try adding dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary and marjoram to dishes for a more pungent flavor – but use them sparingly because they’re powerful.

Use vinegar or citrus juice as flavor enhancers.
o According to cookinglight.com, a rule of thumb among chefs as being one of the easiest ways to brighten up and round out the flavors of a dish (especially when using recipes with less salt), is to add in acidic flavors. This can be done by adding in a splash of lemon juice, stirring in a bit of finely grated lemon, orange, or lime zest, or even a little vinegar to soups, salads, entrees, and vegetable sides. Note: It is best to add acidic flavors at the end of cooking. When zesting citrus, it is best to use organic fruit as their peels will be free of chemicals or wax.

Pair take out with fresher foods
o When in a rush, add a bag of your favorite vegetable to your take out or quick stove top meal. This will simply displace some of the sodium loaded contents with a nutritious and salt free additive. For example, take a

• Use salt free shortcuts
o When using convenience products in your home cooking, like cream soups, or packaged veggies, opt for reduced sodium options, and then add salt to taste if necessary. This can include using a low sodium soup broth or cream soup, using fresh frozen salt free veggies, or using canned veggies that are salt free.

Make your own salad dressing
o Instead of using store bought salad dressings which often contain fairly large amounts of sodium, trying making your own kind of low fat low sodium vinaigrette with an olive oil, and vinegar base. Note: Try this tasty combination from Cookinglight.com; Whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard.

Use olive oil and herbs to flavor roasted, or cooked veggies
o Instead of automatically adding salt to your cooked veggies, trying using herbs and oil to add satisfying flavor. Note: when roasting veggies, drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with pepper, or another herb of your choice, for an outstanding, flavorful low-sodium side.

Ease up on salty condiments
o Although condiments such as ketchup or green relish don’t contain an enormous amount of salt, slathering it on your hamburger and fries can add up quickly. Instead of losing it all together, try using condiment varieties with reduced sodium, especially important with soy sauce which contains 900mg sodium per tablespoon, or just using them sparingly.

Stir-frying instead of full fat frying.
o Use a hot wok to cook vegetables, poultry or seafood using low sodium vegetable stock, wine or a small amount of oil to cook them in. Avoid high-sodium seasonings like teriyaki and soy sauce.

Reduced fat roasting tips.
o When roasting, use a rack in the pan so the meat or poultry doesn’t sit in its own fat drippings. Instead of basting with pan drippings, use fat-free liquids like wine, tomato juice or lemon juice. When making gravy from the drippings, chill first then use a gravy strainer or skim ladle to remove the fat.

Use a cut of meat with less fat content
o Choose “select” or “choice” grade beef rather than prime. Be sure to trim the fat off the edges before cooking. Use cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round,” as they usually have the least fat.

Grilling and broiling instead of fat frying.
o This method of cooking in itself requires no added fat source. Use a rack to allow the fat drip to drip away from the food.

Baking instead of fat frying.
o Baking is another cooking technique that requires no added fat source. Bake foods in covered cookware with a little extra liquid, like low sodium broth.

Poaching.
o Cook chicken or fish by immersing it in simmering liquid.

Sautéing.
o Use a pan made with nonstick metal or a coated, nonstick surface, so you will need to use little or no oil when cooking. Use a nonstick vegetable spray to brown or sauté foods; or, as an alternative, use a small amount of broth or wine, or a tiny bit of vegetable oil rubbed onto the pan with a paper towel.

Steaming as non-sodium, non-fat, cooking method.
o Steam vegetables in a basket over simmering water. They’ll retain more flavors and won’t need any salt or oil.

 

First Week Project Reflection

For my blogging project on ways to cook healthier I decided start off on baking tips i.e., tips that can make baking healthier. That being said, I used week one to put to test the three most uncommon healthier baking tips I found, trying them out in actual recipes. My first trial was subbing in black beans in place of oil. The second was swapping avocado puree in for butter. The Last was using applesauce in place of sugar.

Overall, the trials went really well. I enjoy baking so it wasn’t difficult to get myself motivated to start the baking projects. The difficult part was more so to take the time after baking to sit down and write about it. I found I was tired after baking, as I usually got to it in the evening, and just wanted to sleep after doing my dishes. I was able to push through. I kept notes and took pictures of my results, and produced a posting for all three of my trials that are linked to in the first paragraph. 

Next week I will be doing similar trials and will also include a couple more informative posts on things I find via the internet or elsewhere that discuss how to generally make cooking healthier. I will hopefully create four posts this week. At least two of my posts this week will be similar trials to the ones I did with baking. These trials will be testing out healthier cooking alternative suggestions, and focusing on general tips that can make cooking healthier.

Ways to Make Baking Healthier: Applesauce for sugar

Healthier Baking trial #3: Applesauce for sugar

One of the building blocks to baking is a crazy amount of sugar. For this trial I tried to reduce calories in baking by reducing the amount of sugar used and replacing it with applesauce.

The health benefits of applesauce are minimal. However, with the capacity to be a sweetener for a fraction of the calories, using applesauce in place of sugar when trying to bake healthier sweet treats can be a lifesaver. I did the math and 1 cup of sugar contains roughly 770 calories. A cup of applesauce only has 52 calories!

Okay. So what’s the process? In theory, you could swap out as much sugar for applesauce as you’d like, but again the ratio is 1 to 1. So for example, 1 cup applesauce for 1 cup sugar. Or replace the amount of sugar you want to leave out with the same amount of applesauce. If the recipe call for 1 cup of sugar, and you only want to leave out ½ cup of sugar, just replace that half cup with half cup of applesauce. 1 thing to note however is that because applesauce has more liquid than plain sugar, you will generally want to reduce the amount of water or milk used by 1/4 for every cup of applesauce used.

For my trial of this healthier substitution, I made pumpkin spice cupcakes. You can find this decadent recipe here. You will find after looking at the recipe that it calls for 1 cup white sugar, and 1/3 cup brown. I swapped out all of the white sugar for 1 cup of apple sauce, but left everything else the same, needing to add slightly more milk than called for and using the not so runny batter to fill up the muffin cups most of way full, as the mixture didn’t rise much for me while baking.

My results:
cup cakes

The cups cakes turned out beautifully in regards to texture and appearance, though you there was a noticeable difference in the flavor. Remember though, I swapped out all of my white granulated sugar. My suggestion when using this substitution is to swap no more than half of the called for sugar out for applesauce. Any amount that you swap out will help the recipe be healthier overall. The point of using these swaps is to create sweet treats that would enjoy just as fully as if you hadn’t swapped a thing. If we swap out all the unhealthy stuff, but don’t enjoy the result, I don’t feel we have really accomplished anything beneficial.

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your baking adventures! Please comment if you have any questions, or anything other experiences, or ideas to add! I look forward to hearing from you!

Ways to Make Baking Healthier: Avocados for Butter

Continuing on with this week’s theme of ways to make baking healthier, I have found and tested another interesting substitute for baking.
Healthier Baking tip trial # 2: Avocado for butter or Crisco
Not a Joke!

When compared with butter, avocado wins in every category:
Calories– 2 Tbsp. Avocado 50 / 2 Tbsp. Butter 200
Total fat (g)– 2 Tbsp. Avocado 4.5 / 2 Tbsp. Butter 23
Saturated fat (g)- 2 Tbsp. Avocado .5 / 2 Tbsp. Butter 15
Cholesterol (mg)– 2 Tbsp. Avocado 0 / 2 Tbsp. Butter 60
Sodium (mg)– 2 Tbsp. Avocado 0 / 2 Tbsp. Butter (salted) 200
Not only does avocado beat out butter by containing less fat, calories, cholesterol and sodium, they are also considered by many to be a super food containing over 20 essential nutrients including healthy fats and compounds that have been found to lower bad cholesterol and increase the good, improving heart health. Amazing!

When I first stumbled upon this substitution tip I was pretty skeptical. I am not a huge fan of Avocado, though I do appreciate the many health benefits they offer and after reading that using avocado in your baking would not taint the flavor of your treats, I decided it would be well worth the try.

For my trial I used a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe I found at Marthastewart.com. The substitution process was very simple. Follow the recipe instructions like normal, only swap out the butter for avocado meat pureed until creamy in a blender or food processer in a ratio of 1:1. For example, if 1 cup butter is asked for, use 1 cup avocado puree instead.

If you are reading this and are interested, but have never used avocado before and not sure how to go from a piece of green bumpy fruit to a puree, click here for a quick YouTube tutorial on how to process an avocado.
After baking, these were my results:

avocado cookies 2

 

Very green, yet delicious chewy chocolate chip cookies! After numerous taste tests the results came back that the swap was overall a success! Plus, I met new people on my floor when they were willing to take a chance in trying out my mysterious green cookies. What more could I ask for?

A few things to note when baking with avocado:
Baking time/temp– When baking with avocado in place of butter, the cooking time may take a few minutes longer than suggested. Also, the cookies may start to brown quicker than normal. In this case reduce heat, and increase further the baking time

Consistency – With the recipe I used for this trial I added slightly (about ¼ cup) more flour than the recipe called for in order to get the dough a thicker consistency. Using the avocado the dough will be slightly gooier than normal. After baking the consistency of your cookie should be firm, like any cookie. If the cookie is bending when you try to take it off the sheet, it isn’t done baking!

Texture- If you are like my mom, and not a huge fan of chewy baked goods, I would swap out less butter to retain some of the crunch. For example, instead of swapping the avocado 1 to 1 try swapping ¾ or ½ the butter. As you read above, swapping even only part of the butter out with avocado, can still help to make your treats substantially healthier.

Color– your baked goods will most likely turn out a lovely green color when implementing this substitution. This could be great if you are baking for kids, who might think it’s silly and fun, or around St. Patty’s Day when the color is appropriate.

For more ideas on how to use avocados in your baking visit this baking with avocados page. To check out my other healthy baking trial posts click here for black beans for oil, and here for applesauce for sugar.

Thanks for reading! Come back again soon as I explore more ideas to make cooking healthier.