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You're Cooking Healthfully in the New Year

10 easy kitchen resolutions to make this year
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

It's hard to believe, but we are once again celebrating a New Year! (Is it just me, or didn't we just throw confetti around and scream "Happy New Year" a few months ago?)

'Tis the season of clean slates and good intentions. So to get us started off in a healthy direction, I've hatched 10 cooking resolutions we can all try in the new year. I want you to print out this list and literally check off which ones you are willing to try, OK? You might not want to do all 10, but I'm hoping you'll take at least some of them to heart.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

1. Use olive oil and canola oil for cooking and baking. Of the two oils with the highest levels of healthier monounsaturated fat, only one has omega-3 fatty acids and a high smoke point (so it works well at high-temperature oven-frying as well as pan-frying) and that's canola oil. The other, olive oil, works well in recipes where the olive flavor is desirable, and when you aren't cooking at high temperatures.

2. Instead of deep-frying foods, switch to oven- or pan-frying. Use a small amount of canola oil to coat the surface of the food, then brown it in a 400-degree oven or a nonstick frying pan over high or medium-high heat. Doing this instead of deep-frying will save you from a shocking amount of extra calories and fat grams! For example, if you oven-fry chicken flautas instead of deep frying them, you'll save around 500 calories and 55 grams of fat per three flautas. If you oven-fry your breaded zucchini instead of deep-frying, you save 250 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving.

3. When baking, substitute whole-wheat flour for half the white flour listed in the recipe. You may need to add a couple of tablespoons more liquid (such as low-fat milk, fat-free sour cream, or fruit juice) because the batter tends to be a little drier. But it usually works out great in everything from cinnamon rolls to muffins.

Substituting a cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour will boost your vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals as well as bump the fiber up to 14 grams. It bumps up the vitamin B-6 from 3% of the Daily Value to 26%, folic acid from 18% DV to 29%, magnesium from 10% to 59%, potassium from 7% to 24%, and zinc from 7% to 29%. White flour also has more calories and carbohydrate -- and less protein -- per cup than whole-wheat flour.

4. Substitute Splenda for half of the sugar in bakery recipes. This is an easy way to trim sugar calories, and usually gives good results. Cutting out just 1/2 cup of sugar will shave 387 calories. If you or family members are sensitive to alternative sweeteners, try replacing one-third or one-fourth of the sugar with Splenda.

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