Q&A With a Registered Dietitian: Getting Started With Healthy Cooking

One of the biggest challenges when trying to improve your and your family’s eating habits is coming up with healthy family recipes that are quick, easy and tasty. Rather than finding new recipes, however, a quicker strategy may be to recreate the dishes you’ve been making all along.

For a simple food makeover, Rebecca Greer, a Registered Dietitian, shared personal experiences that can help anyone who wants to eat right and serve healthier meals.

Q: How did you get interested in healthy eating?

Rebecca Greer: I’ve always loved food and being around the kitchen. I quickly discovered that if you love good food, it’s handy to be able to make it yourself. I learned a lot about how to make healthy food taste delicious by watching cooking TV shows and reading healthy cookbooks. I had a lot of mishaps in the beginning, so I always encourage people to keep trying. Cooking takes practice.

Q: Are there any aspects about cooking that present unique obstacles?

RG: I find cooking to be enjoyable most of the time, but it can be stressful if I don’t have a meal planned or go to the grocery store ahead of time. I recently spent about ten minutes writing down a list of my family’s favorite recipes. It’s hanging on the fridge, so that way I can plan meals from those if I don’t feel like looking for new ones. I also often tell my clients to make sure they’re selecting easy and quick recipes for weeknights.

Q: What family recipes have you converted to healthy ones?

RG: My mom always made delicious artichoke dip for football games. I’ve made it healthier by swapping out half the mayo for plain low-fat yogurt. I do [this type of] swap a lot. For my mom’s pumpkin bread, I swapped out half the oil for applesauce. For pancakes, I do half whole wheat and half white flour. My mother-in-law makes her greens with olive oil, which is healthier but also delicious. For my husband’s favorite double-chocolate cookies, I switched out half the butter for oil.

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Q: How did you and your family react to the change to heathier recipes? Was there any resistance?

RG: I learned not go on and on about how healthy something was; that usually puts a preconception in someone’s mind that it won’t taste good. Just cook and serve it and see how everyone likes it. After all, flavor is the number-one reason people choose to eat what they do, so even if it’s the healthiest meal in the world, you won’t make it again if it doesn’t taste good.

Q: Where do you buy food for making healthy family recipes?

RG: I go to the grocery store for most things, but I love visiting farmers’ markets when I can. I also have a small garden that helps with the cost of things like herbs. I prefer to spend money on good food and cut back elsewhere, but I’ve found that meal-planning helps keep the cost down.

When starting your own healthy family recipes, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many right away. Begin by giving one of your favorite recipes an adjustment, and when you’ve perfected it, move on to another. Find substitution ingredients and ratios online. By taking these baby steps, you’ll make tremendous progress over the long term.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

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