Use the term “healthy” to describe your dish and people will think it is flavorless (or worse, tastes bad), expensive to make and whomever it is served to will make, the universal disgusted face, complete with scrunched up nose and closed eyes.
I’ve written before about helping “healthy” recipes taste better, so we’ve already covered flavorless and bad-tasting. In this article, I’d like to start the conversation about why healthy food does not need to be expensive.
First, let’s talk money. For $2.69, you can buy a regular size bag of potato chips, or you can buy approximately five pounds of bananas. Which is healthier? Which is going to keep you full longer? Let’s take another example. For $1, you can buy a 16 ounce bag of dried beans, a 4 ounce can of chunk light tuna, or you can buy a candy bar. Which are healthier? Which will go farther to feed your family?
Next, let’s discuss the cost of eating at a restaurant. At certain restaurants, you can get a four for $4 meal, which consists of a junior bacon cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, fries and a drink. At the grocery store, you can buy three cans of chunk light tuna (to mix with mayo to make tuna salad), a bag of frozen vegetables, a loaf of bread, four containers of light yogurt and four bananas for about $12. The cost for each meal to feed your family of four is $3 each. Plus, you’ve provided for all the food groups and you’ll have extra bread for your next meal, which is not true of the restaurant meal.
Likely you can think of your family’s favorite recipes and find ways to make them more healthful without anyone noticing. For instance, can you substitute non-fat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream? Can you add fresh apple slices instead of canned apple pie filling to your next pie? Can you put half whole wheat pasta in your next pasta dish? There’s always a way to make a not-so-healthy dish better for you. The trick is being creative in finding a way to do so.
Finally, keep in mind “healthy” is a relative term. Very few foods have no benefit to your health. Most people know which foods are better for their health. The trick is to eat the less healthful foods in moderation and/or sparingly, and eat the more healthful foods more often.
Lynn Grant R.D., L.D., CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She works at Capital Region Medical Center and provides diabetes education and outpatient nutrition counseling by appointment. She also writes a weekly nutrition blog, which you can follow at nutritionnotions.wordpress.com.