This year, play an April Fool’s trick on everyone’s taste buds. Sneak in some extra nutrition in ways no one will ever suspect – but will have them asking for more! The ideas below can help you enjoy good foods you might not otherwise eat enough of.
Boost Your Beans
Mash beans with some broth – or puree them in a blender for a silky texture – and add to soups, stews and sauces for extra body and flavor. Pureed white beans hide well in mashed potatoes, soups, dips and sandwich spreads. Mashed kidney beans can extend a meatloaf.
Use equal parts of white and whole wheat flour (you can purchase them already mixed) for baking. Whole wheat pastry flour makes tender, flavorful quick breads and even works well in cookies. Wheat germ and oat bran may also be used for part of the flour – the latter is very light in color and is unnoticeable when substituted in moderate amounts. Bulgur (cracked whole wheat) can extend or replace ground meat in chilies and most casseroles.
Don’t stick with the tried and true few when you can include a wide variety of vegetables by hiding them in soups and stews. Soup broth can be enriched by blending in vegetables pureed with a little of the broth. Try hiding a new type of salad green in with your usual lettuce, and puree some roasted peppers or leftover cooked vegetables into your salad dressing. Mashed sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin add color and flavor to baked goods, while grated carrots, parsnips and zucchini give them a fun confetti look.
Sneak in Some Soy
Keep powdered soy milk on hand to use in baking, or replace about 2 tablespoons in each cup of white flour with soy flour. Silken tofu purees like a dream – use it in smoothies, dips, and creamy soups and sauces. Textured vegetable protein (TVP®) can be added to spaghetti sauce or chili to give a ground meat texture, or you can purchase frozen soy ‘crumbles’ and add them instead. Fresh green soybeans, called ‘sweet soybeans’, look like cooked lima beans and can be mixed into vegetable side dishes.
A little kitchen savvy will go a long way in helping you successfully sneak in some extra nutrition. These tips will make it easy on the cook and keep everyone else guessing!
• An inexpensive hand-held blender makes it easy to puree foods in a pot on the stove or to blend silken tofu into a smoothie right in the serving cup.
• Foods with dark, tomato-based sauces are great for hiding ingredients. Foods that simmer in them for awhile will absorb the color and flavor of the sauce. Finely chopped mushrooms, crumbled tofu, TVP® and bulgur all pass for ground meat.
• Spicy foods can hide many flavors so chili is great for sneaking in vegetables. Dark spices like cinnamon make baked goods look brown, so no one will notice the whole wheat flour.
• The best place to hide a tree is in the forest. Serve a wide variety of minced vegetables in soups and salads.
• Keep canned pumpkin or frozen winter squash on hand. Add these nutrient power houses to soups or chili dishes.
Easy Baked Pasta
1-1/2 cups cooked white beans (navy, Great Northern or canellini), rinsed and drained
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup grated reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp pepper
cayenne or Tabasco to taste
8 oz dry pasta, cooked
Puree the beans and milk together in a blender. Stir in the remaining ingredients except pasta and microwave until heated through. Mix sauce with cooked pasta and bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, cooked vegetables may be mixed with the pasta and sauce before
baking. Serves 6. Each 3/4 cup serving: 239 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 242 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein, 4 g fiber.
By Cheryl Sullivan, MA, RD.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.