Tips for Eating Healthier at Home

The average American dines out between four and five times a week. While restaurants can offer a valuable social experience, regularly choosing convenience foods over meals at home can negatively influence health based on portions, methods of preparation and commercial additives.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to serve up a flavorful, healthy menu from home.

Appetizers

  • Fried Favorites: If frying or sautéing, start by choosing a heart-healthy oil (olive, avocado, sesame, canola). If breading, use a lighter batter or alternative breading like whole wheat bread crumbs, riced cauliflower or chopped nuts.
  • Dips: Swapping sour cream and other heavy bases for Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or light cream cheese can improve nutritional value without compromising flavor. This subtle switch works for anything from spinach artichoke dip to buffalo chicken dip.

Main Course

  • Proteins: Traditionally, the preparation behind restaurant meats involves excess oils, extra fat and sodium. At home, there is the option to bake, grill and utilize the natural flavor of herbs/spices to explore different flavor palettes.
  • Carbohydrates: Instead of facing the temptation of potatoes, pasta and other heavy restaurant starches, find alternatives that offer the same flavor with better nutrition. Believe it or not, cauliflower can make a tasty twist on mashed potatoes, fried rice and pizza crust.
  • Vegetables: Steaming and grilling vegetables at home allows full flavor and all the health benefits of the vegetables without overcooking. Better yet, exploring veggie carb-swaps increases nutrition.

Dessert

  • Baking Swaps: Swapping traditional baking oils for apple sauce or yogurt can create anything from blueberry lemon Greek yogurt muffins to Greek yogurt fruit bark.
  • Bonus Hidden Nutrition: Disguising nutritious ingredients like black beans, zucchini, or carrots and spinach in a homemade dessert is easier than it seems. Not only can it mimic the taste of restaurant-style sweets, it can add vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and moisture to your favorite dessert.
  • Two-In-One: Instead of drinking coffee with dessert at a restaurant, serve up naturally sweet, protein-filled energy bites at home. Not only do they make a great alternative to apple pie and chocolate peanut butter candy, but they can also double as a delicious breakfast or mid-day snack in the days following.

Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan

Check out a few of our healthier at home recipes below:

honey garlic cauliflower bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup of crushed almonds or pistachios (or other favorite nut – this is optional)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha (optional)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • ¼ cup of sliced scallions

Honey Garlic Cauliflower Bites

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine flour and cauliflower in large bowl. Toss until fully coated.
3. Set up dredging station. One bowl has panko bread crumbs and crushed nuts, mixed thoroughly. The second bowl whisk eggs and 2 tbsp. of water.
4. Dip cauliflower in the beaten eggs and then fully coat in panko and nut mixture.
5. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and salt and pepper.
6. Bake until golden and crispy about 20-25 minutes.
7. While baking, make sauce in small bowl. Whisk together water with cornstarch, until it completely dissolves. Set aside.
8. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, honey, garlic, lime juice and sriracha over medium heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Bring to simmer again until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
9. Toss cooked cauliflower in sauce until even coated. Return cauliflower to baking sheet and broil for about 2 minutes.
10. Garnish with scallions and serve.

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Chicken lettuce wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast and/or boneless, skinless chicken thighs or a mixture
  • 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup of shredded carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
  • ½ cup frozen edamame beans
  • 4 oz. of sliced water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. reduced sodium teriyaki sauce
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup of brown rice or quinoa or mix, already cooked
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 12 leaves of butterhead or iceberg lettuce
  • Asian chili sauce (optional)

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Instructions
1. Add chicken, bell pepper, yellow onion, carrots, edamame, water chestnuts, chicken broth, garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, ginger, salt and pepper into slow cooker.
2. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-2.5 hours
3. Strain the mixture and shred the chicken. Stir in rice/quinoa, hoisin sauce and green onions.
4. Serve warm with lettuce wraps and Asian chili sauce. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened apple rings
  • ¾ cup packed dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ginger
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

Apple Pie Energy Bites

Instructions
1. Soak pitted dates in hot water for about 10 minutes. This will help the energy balls stick together. If your dates are really fresh, you will be able to skip this step.
2. Break the pecans down in a food processor.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
4. Roll into balls.
5. Store in the refrigerator in a seal-tight container. Will last in the refrigerator for about 1 week. Enjoy!

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