How to Make Everyday Foods Healthier

A few little swaps can make your everyday meals better for you

While most of us eat similar foods on a day-to-day basis, like meats, fish, vegetables, and pasta, how we eat them is different - and also very important. While the quality of what we're eating does matter, the way the food is prepared matters even more.

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For instance, deep-fried broccoli will not give you nearly the amount of nutrients and health benefits as steamed or sautéed broccoli. Similarly, drenching vegetables in butter and cream is not as healthy as roasting them with olive oil and herbs.

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Simply looking at how foods are prepared and implementing simple swaps to make everday foods healthier can increase the nutritional value of meals and improve our lifestyles.

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The good news is that making these changes will come at little to no cost of your time or money. Switching some of your cooking methods around (like baking instead of frying) or swapping one thing for the other are easy ways to make your everyday foods healthier.

Credit © Veer/CCredit © Veer/CDitch Processed Foods

Most commercial foods are processed to keep a longer shelf life. If it is bagged, canned, boxed, or jarred with a long list of ingredients and nutrition facts, it is generally considered processed. These foods are filled with additives, and swapping them out of your daily diet can quickly improve your health. How to do it? Invest time in your kitchen. Try purchasing the basics for most of the things you need and make them at home. While admittedly this may be easier said than done, making at least half of the foods in your home from scratch from natural ingredients is a way to significantly improve your regular food health.

Credit © Flickr/wEnDaLiciousCredit © Flickr/wEnDaLiciousPut the Frying Pan Away

While some foods beg to be fried, resist the urge to do so on a regular basis. Frying food generally promotes the use of oils, butter, and fattening breading, and while there are alternatives to all of these ingredients, the healthiest choice is to opt to bake your next dish. Peel the skin away from the chicken, rub it with herbs, and let it bake in a dish of low-sodium broth for a tasty alternative to fried cutlets. Or enjoy flaky fish away from the stove top, drizzled with naturally sweet honey for a delicious dinner - there are endless ways to switch your favorite foods from pan to oven rack.

Credit © Veer/MartinurzakCredit © Veer/MartinurzakUse Safe Ingredients

It isn't necessary to eat foods that are only from the farmers market or have just been harvested, but it is important that you are aware of the pesticide residue left on foods and choose the ones that are healthiest for you.

Credit © ItemmasterCredit © ItemmasterUse Lower-Fat Dairy Products

When it comes to milk, drinking three glasses a day will generally lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. However, consider drinking low-fat or non-fat milk and trying other reduced-fat dairy products to improve the health value of your daily dishes.

Credit © Veer/BalbookCredit © Veer/BalbookCut the Condiments

Proud of yourself for making the decision to enjoy a fresh salad rather than that sandwich? Don't kill the good intentions by overusing condiments. While they do enhance food, condiments can pack on the calories and fats if not chosen correctly. Often, these flavorful additives are globbed on before a bite has even been taken and are unnecessarily used. Additions like mayonnaise, processed salad dressings, and even too much ketchup create situations where calories, sugar, and fat are piled high on to your dishes. Opt for mustard, natural condiments, or low-fat versions of mayonnaise if you're really craving it.

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- Lauren Gordon, The Daily Meal

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