A lot of people, who try to live a healthy lifestyle, choose home-cooked meals over commercially available ones because it is definitely healthier. However, it may also be necessary to closely examine whether the dishes we usually prepare at home are indeed healthy. It can be possible that our well-loved recipes are loaded with calories, fat, cholesterol, salt or sugar.

There are actually ways that you can make home-cooked meals healthier for your family. When baking, try to cut in half the shortening, butter, or oil. Substitute the other half with healthier choices like mashed banana, unsweetened applesauce or prune puree. There are also fruit-based fat replacers that can be purchased as a healthier substitute. This is a good way to cut the fat but retain the flavor or consistency of the dish.

Try to limit the amount of sugar that you incorporate to your recipes and add spices instead. Cut the amount of sugar by half, or add only one-third of the sugar, then add cinnamon, cloves, allspice or nutmeg. You can also add almond flavoring or vanilla extract because it is a healthier way to bring out the sweetness of the food.

Sodium will always be part of most recipes. However, it may be best to use it sparingly. You can actually reduce to half the amount of salt that you add to foods, which don’t need yeast. With foods that require yeast, the amount of salt has to be maintained because the food may become flat and dense. Try to limit the amount of seasoning you use as well to reduce the amount of sodium in the food. Herbs, spices, herb blends and other salt-free seasonings can be used, in place of the usual amount of salt you add to your dishes.

Substituting some ingredients in your recipe for a healthier alternative may not only cut the amount of calories, but it also boosts the nutritional value of a food. When making pasta, choose whole-wheat pasta because it is loaded in fiber and lower in calories. Try to substitute whole milk with fat free milk to cut the calories and fat. Instead of using syrup, opt for healthier alternatives like pureed fruit or applesauce. If you use meat, choose lean portions and add more vegetables than usual. Also choose fat free or reduced calorie dressings for your salads. Try to use a fat free milk base for creamed soups, and use pureed vegetables for thickening dishes.

Sometimes it can also be good to forget some ingredients that won’t do much to the dish. These include frosting, coconut, nuts, pickles, olives, butter, jelly, and, other food items that only serve to beautify the dish. Although it helps in making the dish more appealing, it may only give you extra sodium, sugar, fat and calories.

If you do a lot of frying at home, perhaps it is the time to change the method of preparation. Try dishes that are broiled, braised, grilled, or steamed because it can capture the flavor, and you don’t have to put in more oil, fat or sodium. There are numerous recipes that you can get online, which are healthy but still tasty.

Aside from healthy food choices, controlling portions is equally important. No matter how hard you try to substitute ingredients, and if the portions are not right, you’d still end up eating far more than what you really need. Eating healthy is an important aspect in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And trying to cook healthy dishes doesn’t mean that you have to invest in expensive cookware, or forget about the things that you already know in the kitchen. It is basically modifying your cooking skills, in order to prepare healthier home-cooked meals for the entire family.