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Learn some smart swaps during National Nutrition Month

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Published March 13. 2019 11:40AM

America is known as a melting pot of cultures who enjoy a variety of ethnic dishes, but some of these recipes can be high in saturated fat and calories. In honor of National Nutrition Month, the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers tips on how to cut down on fat while savoring the flavor of traditional family fare.

Try experimenting with cooking techniques and flavors to put a healthy spin on family dishes. Consider baking instead of frying your chicken or pork chops and look for ways to lighten up your dishes and enjoy the natural flavors of food.

Smart swaps

Consider swapping less healthful ingredients with more nutritious options so you don’t have to forgo your favorite dishes in your quest for healthier meals.

Use the following tips:

• Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats

• Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese

• Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar

• Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins

• Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.

It’s all about experimenting! Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Your family might not notice the difference. Simple swaps are key to making dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor.

Savor the flavor

Try new spices to help liven up your family meals. Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork. Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.

Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens or marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling.

Remember that healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures.

The PA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in Pennsylvania. The PA Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the PA Academy at

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