Commentary: Healthier Cooking
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 When researching recipes, look for healthy ingredients such as whole fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, oils like olive oil and walnut oil and nuts, legumes, soy, whole grains. Choose lean meats and poultry and low fat dairy products. Read the labels carefully for hidden fats (i.e. salted dry roasted peanuts are very high in fat vs. unsalted roasted peanuts). 

 Unhealthy ingredients include such ingredients as sugar, processed foods (including luncheon meats, processed cheese-products), saturated and trans fat (such as full fat mayonnaise, sour cream), white refined flour, and products made with refined white flour.

Evaluating a recipe can be a challenge.  Getting into the habit of reading the labels is a great place to start.  The less processed the food item is, the higher the nutritional value it is for you.  I always encourage people to start changing their eating habits slowly.  Change one thing at a time, whether it is reducing the numbers of pops one drinks in a day or not going back for seconds at the dinner table.  Just one thing, get that down and then choose another thing to change.  I don't eat white rice anymore because, to me, it is empty carbs. That was the first thing I chose to change.  I do eat rice, just not white, but brown, wild, any rice that has not been stripped of its outer fiberous hull.  I will eat rice at any time, including breakfast, to up the fiber in my meal.

For an alternative side dish to buttery mashed potatoes or candied sweet potatoes during the holidays, try some nutty wild rice with sweet cranberries, apples and heart-healthy walnuts.

Fruited Wild Rice Pilaf
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup wild rice, uncooked
4 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
tsp salt
tsp black pepper
tsp ground sage or poultry seasoning

1 cup unpeeled apple, diced

1 cup dried cranberries (or craisins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place brown and wild rice in a large saucepan with the broth and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender and broth is absorbed, about 45 minutes, adding diced apples to the rice 5 minutes before finish cooking. 

Transfer rice to a large bowl and stir in cranberries and walnuts.



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