Last week I did a "survey" about this blog. I have to say all of the responses gave me excellent feed back - - all of them. This blog isn't just a foodie blog, but a "lifestyle" blog - my lifestyle. It's about things that I enjoy that I want to share. It's about things that I have enjoyed, but been so busy in life that I forgot to enjoy these simple things.
In the survey one of the suggestions brought up that the older recipes could be updated in healthier ways. I love that idea! Regarding my recipes, many are old school and some I have updated to the 21st century and some I have left as is. Some of the recipes can be adjusted and modified to each individual diets. Sure, and some are decadent. For those recipes may I suggest smaller servings?
Through the years I have added touches of "healthier" ingredients in my own cooking, such as I often use skim milk instead of whole, and often turkey burger instead of beef. Sometimes I even use olive oil in place of butter or regular vegetable oil. I will also swap out sugar when it comes to baking, and use apple sauce instead. It all varies depending on the needs and of course making a recipe with success.
Believe it or not, but I use to follow a strict vegan diet before it was "cool." That was in the old days of my "hippie" years, so I am familiar with many of the alternatives for vegan cooking. In fact I even took a series of cooking classes designed for the vegan. We didn't even cook with processed sugar. We only used natural fruits. It was harder to be a vegan 40-years ago, as we had limited resources and not a lot of commercial products designed for the vegan cook and consumer. Forty-years ago whole wheat or vegetable based pasta was awful! Today, whole wheat pasta is delicious!
There are some things I do not use, such as soy products as I personally have a severe intolerance and the majority of the vegan egg substitutes leave an after-taste that I do not care for, especially in baking. And speaking of after-taste, why would anyone want to substitute fake margarine instead of butter - the real thing? Most of the "alternative butter" is made from chemicals or over processed. However, if you are keeping kosher or a vegan, I understand you use what you can. In the example of Marcella's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter - - well, I don't know how to grasp that one. Without the butter it wouldn't be Marcella's sauce. If you cannot use butter, then don't make the recipe. How can you screw with perfection? Heh.
Today there are so many diets such as gluten-fee, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegetarian, fruitarian, flexitarian (my diet), pescetarian, shell fish allergies, and even religious food restrictions... I can no longer keep track - nor should I. I am not a dietitian, and I am not in food service. I am just sharing my favorite home recipes.
Here is an example of some of the more health conscious recipes: Korean-style Beef Bowl- use brown rice, and instead of beef use chicken, turkey, or just add more vegetables and no meat. Eliminate the sugar in the sauce and use agave or honey, instead. Minestrone Soup is an easy fix to make it with less calories. Eliminate the meat and make it all vegetarian. If you are gluten-free, then use gluten-free pasta or rice in the tomato-based soup. Only you know what you can eat and what you can tolerate. Here is an example what we face if we are just sharing recipes - - again, I am not a dietitian. There is a low-cal "meat-less" ball, but it is made with pecan meal, so those with a nut allergy... see where I am going? I cannot keep everyone happy when it comes to the choice of recipes I post.
My Tabbouleh recipe is about as healthy as one can get -- but not if you are gluten-free. So leave out the bulgur wheat and add quinoa, but you already knew that - - right? Again, there is no recipe that will meet the needs of everyone.
As far as desserts go, there are a few suggestions - - again, depending on what diet you are keeping. Affogato is an easy dessert and can be swapped out for light ice cream, non-dairy tofu or rice-based "ice cream." Let's say you don't want to use caffeine after dinner, then look at decaffeinated coffee for your cup of affogato - duh. The Forgiving Fruit Galette should be no surprise to anyone who is on a gluten-free diet. Make your favorite version of a gluten-free crust. Use agave, honey, or a fruit puree (or apple sauce) as a substitute if you want to eliminate sugar. The recipe will still be "forgiving" and easy.
This rant is inspired from a few stories from professional cooks that I know. Thinking about healthier cooking also got me to thinking about some of the frustrations that professional cooks often run into. One of the recent stories was how a consumer went to management to complain about a salad she ate at a work-related buffet. The salad wasn't marked gluten free, but a pasta-based salad should have been the gluten intolerant person's first clue. Since the majority of the population is NOT gluten-free, typically foods that are gluten-free friendly are the ones that are marked and designated - not the other way around. If we are going to attach our selves to a diet, then we have to be accountable, educated, and even find alternatives regarding what we put in our mouths.
If you have taken any of these recipes and modified them to your individual diet and the results have been met with great success - - do let me know so we can share them. As I have said with the majority of my recipes - they are often just a springboard towards another recipe - your own recipe.