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Healthy Home Cooking is Easy!

Changing the way we cook in the south can sometimes be a real challenge. Here are tips how to learn to cook healthy and still enjoy many of the foods you grew up with.

Nashville, Ark. – Changing the way we cook in the south can sometimes be a real challenge. We love our fried chicken with all the fixins, as well as our tasty desserts. Although it may sound impossible, you can learn to cook healthy and still enjoy many of the foods you grew up with! Here’s how:

            Prepare meals at home. Eating out and using mixes or freezer convenience foods can put on extra pounds and make us unhealthy. Learn how to prepare foods from “scratch”. You can control the amount of calories, fat and sodium (the three big things that can make a person unhealthy). The Cooperative Extension Service offers classes on learning how to cook if you need to brush up on your cooking skills.

            Shop wisely. The key to shopping wisely is to make a list. Be sure to include everything you will need to prepare healthy meals at home. Make fruits and vegetables a priority when shopping for food. Take advantage of seasonal produce and review the weekly newspaper sales ad.

            Choose colorful vegetables and fruits. Dark green, deep orange and other dark colors generally signify a high nutritional content. For instance, red or green leaf lettuce provides more nutrition than does iceberg lettuce. Spinach in a salad will provide more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce.

            Eat more whole grain. Try to choose brown rather than white rice; whole wheat or other whole grain breads rather than white or bleached. Whole grain oats, pasta and whole grain cereals are also great for providing fiber to the diet. Dietary guidelines recommend at least half your serving of grains should be whole grain.

            Choose lean cuts of meat. When buying meat, look for the leanest possible cuts; and opt for skim and low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt.

            Choose snacks carefully. Making healthy snacks readily available might be the most important factor in helping your family eats well. Snacks should be within easy grabbing distance --- placed ready to eat on the table, counter, or wherever your family will pass in search of a snack. Some great, healthy snack options include:

            - Freshly washed grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, pears, kiwi, and other fruits that are in season

            - Baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower

            - Pretzels and baked chips

            - Low-fat fruit yogurt

            Eating healthy does not need to be a challenge. The best meals should be enjoyed with family and friends. Eating at home leaves you in total control of what you eat and how it was prepared.

            If you would like more information on healthy cooking at home or to find out about cooking classes, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great recipe you can make for your family this week! It is low in fat, calories and is a complete meal! And it is super easy to prepare!

Pasta Primavera

8 ounce pasta (try whole grain)

3 cups frozen loose-pack broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower

¾ cup skim milk

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules

¾ teaspoon fines herbes

¾ cup plain fat-free yogurt

3 ounces reduced fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, optional

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

            Cook pasta in large saucepan in boiling water according to package directions; add vegetables for the last 3 minutes of cooking time.

            In a medium saucepan stir together milk, flour, bouillon granules, fines herbes, and one fourth teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly.      Drain pasta and vegetables; transfer to a serving bowl. Add sauce; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 374 calories, 6 grams fat, 498 mg sodium, 58 g carbohydrates, 21 g protein.

Note: Fines Herbes, pronounced feenz ehrb, is a mixture of finely chopped herbs usually including chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon. Found in the spice section of the grocery store.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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