Extension Agent: Artful recipe altering
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Did you know that the amount of saturated fat in the diet has a much greater effect on blood cholesterol than the amount of cholesterol in the diet? Or that about one third of the average intake of sodium comes from salt added to food during cooking or at the table, and almost two-thirds of the salt consumed comes from processed food?
For several years, health professionals have advised Americans to eat less fat, sugar and salt, and to eat more fiber. The USDA's ChooseMyPlate.gov website, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010), reflects these recommendations.
To make an eating plan or healthy diet that follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should remember to take the following actions:
Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy and milk products;
Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and
Keep it low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to help you in selecting an eating plan based on current eating patterns, health status, daily exercise plan, and potential risk for health problems linked to diet, such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Perhaps a change to some cooking methods may be in order.
Recipes = chemical formulas
Recipes specify the ingredients, proportions, and methods necessary to produce a quality product. Companies and publishers spend time and money testing recipes for consumer use. Any change made in the recipe will produce a slightly different product from the one that was tested and published. Some changes you may like and others you may not.
Recipes for combined foods, such as casseroles and soups, are more flexible than others. A cookie recipe is more adaptable than a cake recipe. Recipes for most baked products can be altered, but recipes for any preserved product, such as pickles, salsa, jellies, or candies should not be changed at all.
Modifying a recipe may produce a product that doesn't meet your expectations. For example, a cake made with less fat will not have the same flavor or texture as the high-fat version. Cookies with less sugar or fat will still be acceptable but might not look or taste the same as those made by the original recipe. Substituting skim milk for whole milk in puddings, soups, and sauces will give a product that is less rich and creamy but has less fat and calories.
Ingredients can be changed
Most people either fail to notice much difference or accept the difference that results when the following kinds of changes are made.
Reduce sugar by one-third. For example, if a recipe says to use one cup of sugar, use two thirds of a cup. This change works best in canned and frozen fruits and in making puddings and custards. In cookies and cakes, try using one half of a cup sugar per cup of flour. For quick breads and muffins, use one tablespoon sugar per cup of flour. To enhance the flavor when sugar is reduced, add vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.
Reduce fat by one-third. For example, if a recipe calls for one half of a cup of fat, use one third of a cup. This method works best in gravies, sauces, puddings, and some cookies. For cakes and quick breads, use two tablespoons fat per cup of flour.
Omit salt or reduce by one-half. For example, if a recipe calls for one half of a teaspoon salt, use one fourth of a teaspoon. This method may be more acceptable if you gradually reduce the amount of salt each time you make the recipe. Herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning mixes can also be used as flavor enhancers. Do not eliminate salt from yeast bread or rolls; it is essential for flavor and helps the texture.
Substitute whole grain and bran flours. Whole wheat flour can replace from one-fourth to one-half of the all-purpose flour. For example, if a recipe has three cups all-purpose flour, use one and one half cups whole wheat flour and one and one half cups all-purpose flour.
Oat bran or oatmeal (that has been ground to flour consistency in a food processor or blender) can replace up to one-fourth of the all-purpose flour. For example, if a recipe has three cups all-purpose flour, use three fourths of a cup oat bran or ground oatmeal and two and one fourth cups all-purpose flour.
Bran cereal flour is made by grinding a ready-to-eat cereal such as Bran Buds or 100 percent Bran in a blender or food processor for 60 to 90 seconds. It can replace up to one-fourth of the all-purpose flour. For example, if a recipe calls for two cups all-purpose flour, use one half of a cup bran flour and one and one half cups all-purpose flour.
Source: Revised by Mary Claire Kinney Bielamowicz, PhD, MS, RD, LD, CFCS, Regents Fellow, Professor and Nutrition Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System, May 2012
Erika Bochat is a Victoria County extension agent- Family and Consumer Sciences.