Some cooking tips

In my quest to cook and eat healthier (except when stressed, when I eat Skittles in a gross and shameful quantity), I've discovered a few handy ingredient swapping tips.

Whole Wheat Pasta
When I first started eating this, I didn't like it. I thought it tasted dry and had a sort of sandy texture to it. But now that it's been ALL I've eaten for a while, I love it. I actually sort of prefer it. The same thing happened to me with white and brown rice. Once I made the switch, I liked the healthier version a lot more. Now pasta is a bigger part of our diet, which is great, since it's such a simple meal.

Favorite dish: Whole wheat pasta tossed with vinaigrette, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and feta

Potatoes get a bad rap. They're full of nutrients and, if you're good about how you accessorize them, naturally fat-free. Bread and pasta made with potato flour is healthier than the white-flour equivalent and much tastier too.

Favorite dish: Gnocchi with fresh sauteed green beans, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and pesto

Breadcrumb substitutions
Whenever a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, you have two healthier and tastier options. When the recipe is like meatloaf or meatballs and calls for breadcrumbs to act as a binding agent in the mixture, you can substitute quick-cooking oats instead. While the mix will look like you dumped meat into a bowl of cereal, the finished product will not have visible oatmeal all over it, I promise.

Panko breadcrumbs are a healthier (and all-around better) substitute for traditional breading. Yum! A third option is to grind up whole wheat crackers and use cracker meal, but I rarely do this because it still involves a flour step.

Favorite dish: Italian-seasoned meatballs made with oats and herbs.

Eggs are the best breakfast. Because they're so high in protein, they keep you feeling fuller longer and magically prevent you from over-eating later in the day (seriously). When I eat eggs at 7:30, I don't get hungry for lunch until 1:30. If I eat cereal at the same time, I'm hungry at 11.

Favorite dish: scrambled eggs with Chipotle Tobasco

Cottage cheese
Fat-free cottage cheese is another miracle food that keeps you feeling fuller, has good vitamin content, and is high in protein. Plus, it cries out to be combined with all sorts of healthy stuff: dried fruit, whole fruit, peanut butter, even herby stuff like pesto. You can mash it into egg salad! You can use it to make lasagna (if you live in the midwest)!

Favorite dish: cottage cheese with dried cranberries


  1. My mom uses cottage cheese (instead of ricotta) in her lasanga, and everyone seems to love it. That is how I ate it growing up, and it makes me never order it at a restaurant. It just never tastes "right" when it is actually done with ricotta!

  2. I love wheat pasta! It is hard to find in all the shapes I want around here (we can rarely find shells), but when I go to NJ I stock up on the shapes I can't get here.

  3. Tonight I made oven-fried chicken with panko breadcrumbs and whole wheat flour and it was amazeballs.

  4. This sounds like my new diet since I quit eating wheat! Another tasty suitable crispy-coating substitute for bread crumbs: Baked Kettle Chips (the low-salt version) crushed up.
    Eggs are better than I remembered them. Maybe because I know how do to more things to them. Big "English-style" thing to do with eggs? Poached, served with sauteed or steamed asparagus and prosciutto and topped with parmesan.

  5. I have issues with fat free cottage cheese. I find that it is watery and lacks taste. Can you recommend a specific brand or something to add that's perhaps a bit salty?