5 Cooking Hacks for a Healthier (But Still Yummy) New Year

The first three letters of diet are DIE. Let’s face it…no one wants to “diet”. Dieting means giving up things you love. Wanna know a better strategy? Find things you love that are good for you! Find enough new things to love, and you won’t be sacrificing anything. You will have simply found a new lifestyle. With that in mind, here are five cooking hacks that will help you substitute some healthy things for some of your favorite bad things so you can still enjoy them the way you used to…just healthier.  

1. Crisp It Up in the Oven

Healthy Recipe for Fried Chicken Breast

Sometimes we just crave something crispy. Don’t give in to the temptation of your fried favorites. Instead, try oven frying for a healthier substitution! Dip your protein in low-fat milk or egg, dredge in your favorite seasonings or bread crumbs, and then spray them with canola or olive oil.

Place these on a wire rack and set on a baking sheet, then bake them at 425-450 degrees until golden brown and crispy. This alternative to deep frying has 40% fewer calories and you still get the crisp!

2. Good Fats Vs. Bad Fats

Butter makes everything better, but not when you’re working on that beach bod for Spring. While there are certain instances where butter can’t be replaced, you can reduce it. Try replacing part of the recipe with canola or olive oil whenever possible. Butter has seven times more saturated fat than oil, so replacing even half of the butter in a recipe for oil can help immensely while still keeping that buttery flavor present!

Helpful Tip: Invest in quality non-stick pans so you can use less oil when cooking. It all adds up!

3. Make It Creamy without the Cream!

There’s nothing better than a decadent sauce to go along with your favorite meal, but those creamy cravings can cost you! However, there is an alternative that can give you the same effect, without the extra calories and fat. Instead of using heavy cream, make this cream substitute:

  • Mix 1 cup of low-fat milk with 4 teaspoons of all-purpose flour
  • Whisk over medium heat until bubbling and thick
  • Add to any sauce that calls for heavy cream!

On average, cup for cup, this alternative will save you almost 680 calories and 53 grams of saturated fat!

Related Read: Healthy Meals for Busy Families

4. Season without Salt

Herb Seasonings

Flavor is what we really crave. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try seasoning your favorite meat with other flavor boosters such as fresh herbs and lemon or lime. But be careful, while seasonings are great, many are packed with sodium! Sodium sneaks into our diets without us even knowing it.

There are plenty of great premade, low-sodium and no-sodium seasonings at the market. Morton’s makes a  “Lite Salt” that has half the amount of sodium as regular table salt. It’s a great substitute that you probably won’t even notice. You may find that you like your favorite recipes even more when you use more seasonings and less salt!

Helpful Tip: Looking for more flavor? Try pickling your favorite veggies for an added zing!

5. Look for Leaner Meats

Have a favorite cut of meat that’s not as healthy as you’d like? Chances are there’s a leaner choice that can give you similar satisfaction. Stop by McGonigle’s Market and ask our the experts behind the meat counter for the most flavorful, lean cuts of meat, seafood, and poultry!

Bonus Healthy Recipe

Balsamic Sauteed Chicken with Yellow and Cherry Tomatoes

Eating healthy doesn’t always have to be difficult. If you are looking for a favorite to add to your guilt-free home menu choices, 

Balsamic Sauteed Chicken

you’ll want to try this:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup yellow grape tomatoes or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


Heat olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Sauté chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to 2 plates. Add onions, tomatoes, and garlic to skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon basil; sauté 30 seconds. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve.

Healthy meals don’t have to be bland! Stop by McGonigle’s Market on the corner of Ward Parkway & 79th Street to pick up your healthy ingredients.

P.S. Check out McGonigle’s New Catering Menu!

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