[center] Healthed-Up Alfredo[/center]
The more you cook, the better you look.
That’s what I’ve noticed over the last few years, and that’s the motto of my food-related writings.
Here’s one thing I’ve found since I’ve been flexing my culinary muscles. For some reason, if you buy a prepared food item at the store, you’re getting a bottle or box chocked full of… well, crap.
Seriously, once you learn how to cook you’ll look at ingredient lists on most grocery store foods and wonder aloud, “Why the hell did they put that in there?” I mean, most recipes and dishes contain 4 or 5 ingredients. But when you buy that same food at the grocery store it contains, oh, about 56 ingredients… most of them the aforementioned excrement.
Here’s a way to test this out: Go to the store and find a favorite “bad” food and check out the ingredient list. Remember, whatever is listed first is the most prevalent ingredient in the product. Whatever is listed second is the second most prevalent, etc. Got it?
Now that you’ve scanned your favorite cheat food’s nutrition label, go home and look up a homemade recipe for it. Just Google “oatmeal cookie recipe” or whatever. Read through a couple of the recipes that pop up.
What will you find?
Well, you’ll probably find that the store-bought stuff contains a whole lot of crap ingredients. I mean, have you ever seen a recipe call for high fructose corn syrup? Extra trans-fats? MSG? Chemicals with names that contain 32 syllables? It doesn’t happen. Food manufacturers stick a whole lot of junk in there to make it last longer on the shelf, plus junkie ingredients are usually cheaper to mass produce.
Even some restaurants are using these shelf-stable, poo-filled foods and passing them off as if a chef is actually prepping them in the back kitchen. Nope, if you paid less than $20 for your meal in a chain restaurant, then most likely a big portion of it was just re-heated, not cooked.
Now, what can you do with this info? I’ll tell ya.
You can use some basic ingredient substitutions and make your own “cheat” food that isn’t really a cheat at all. You can cut the calories in half, increase the protein and fiber, lower the carbs, and replace the bad fat dietary fats with good ones. In other words, you can have your favorite foods without totally wrecking your health or waistline.
Here’s an example: My daughter loves alfredo sauce. Take a look at the bottled stuff at the grocery store: soybean oil, sugar, and a bunch of chemicals I can’t even pronounce… not to mention shockingly high calories.
Now, all alfredo sauce is supposed to contain is: butter, cream, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, pepper and garlic.
Simple ingredients, right? No industrial chemicals needed it seems. Hmm…
Now, homemade alfredo sauce is still pretty dense in calories due to the fat content, but we can health that up and lighten the load quite a bit without losing any flavor. It may not be food for a bodybuilder or Figure athlete two weeks out from a show, but it’s low carb and we can cut out about half the calories along with adding in some nutritional good stuff.
And you can’t taste the difference… well, expect that this lightened-up alfredo tastes better than anything you can get in the jar at the grocery store. My daughter says it’s better than Olive Garden’s, and that little gal loves her OG. So, score one for single dads who cook.
I pour this stuff over the top of grilled chicken breasts and stir it into green beans myself. Good eats. Here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup omega-3 enriched butter (1 stick)
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese (room temp or cubed)
8 ounces half-n-half cream
1/3 cup ground parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1-2 cloves finely diced
- Melt butter in sauce pan
- Add cream cheese
- Whisk in half-n-half
- Add parm, garlic, and pepper
- Simmer until heated through
- Chow down
Half the calories, no Olive Garden or bottled chemicals required.