Recipe Makeovers: 10 Commandments of Healthy Cooking
'The Recipe Doctor' shares her top recipe lightening tips.
When it comes to the not-so-ancient art of "making over" recipes to make
them lighter and healthier, I think I can safely say that I qualify as an
I've written 25 books (and counting) on an assortment of nutrition topics, but I'm
certainly not an authority on all of them. Sure, I wrote about getting through
menopause without hormone
therapy, but I haven't spent my career researching menopause. And I've written
about what to eat if you have irritable bowel syndrome, type 2 diabetes, acid reflux, and migraines. But I relied on
specialists in these areas to review what I wrote, as I'm not a specialist in
these very important topics.
But with lightening recipes, it's a different story. I've been doing this
since I was a graduate student in the early 80s, which, according to my
calculations, means I've lightened thousands of recipes!
I don't mean to brag, but I can take a quick glance at a recipe and know,
with pretty good accuracy, what I can get away with changing and still end up
with a dish that tastes terrific. I know off the top of my head what the
magical minimum amount of fat is for most bakery recipes (muffins, cakes,
brownies). To recipes you wouldn't think could be lightened (like fried
chicken, jalapeno poppers, tempura, and English toffee), I've said "bring it
on!" and found success. (OK, now I really am bragging -- so sorry!)
Over the years, I've changed my focus to incorporate the latest nutrition
science. For example, we now know that the type of fat we cook with is
important, so I switch to the "smart fats" whenever possible. I work to
increase the fiber and nutrient content of recipes just as I work to cut sodium
and decrease calories from fat and sugar. Being "The Recipe Doctor" is part of
my professional identity, and I am grateful for (and fond of) this
All that said, I would like to share with you what I call my 10 Recipe
Lightening Commandments. These commandments are the culmination of years of
recipe testing and tasting. I pass them to you in good faith.