Keeping the ‘heart’ in old family favorites

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Eating heart healthy meals doesn’t mean giving up some of those too-rich favorite family recipes. With these general subsitutions, you can keep the heart and add the health.

Milk/Cream/Sour Cream

  • Cook with lowfat (1 percent fat) or fat free dry or evaporated milk, instead of whole milk or cream.
  • Instead of sour cream, blend 1 cup lowfat, unsalted cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon fat free milk and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or substitute plain, fat free or lowfat yogurt or sour cream.


  • Use a variety of herbs and spices in place of salt.
  • Use low-sodium bouillon and broths, instead of regular bouillons and broths.
  • Use a small amount of skinless smoked turkey breast, instead of fatback to lower fat content but keep taste.
  • Use skinless chicken thighs, instead of neck bones.


  • Use cooking oil spray to lower fat and calories.
  • Use a small amount of vegetable oil, instead of lard, butter, or other fats that are hard at room temperature.
  • In general, diet margarines are not well suited for baking. Instead, to cut saturated fat, use regular soft margarine made with vegetable oil.
  • Choose margarine that lists liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient on the food label.


  • In baking or cooking, use 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk, instead of 2 whole eggs, or 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute, instead of 1 whole egg.

For Meats and Poultry

  • Choose a lean cut of meat (see page 22) and remove any visible fat.
  • Remove skin from chicken and other poultry before cooking.

For Sandwiches and Salads

  • In salads and sandwiches, use fat free or lowfat dressing, yogurt or mayonnaise, instead of regular versions.
  • To make a salad dressing, use equal parts water and vinegar, and half as much oil.
  • Garnish salads with fruits and vegetables.

For Soups and Stews

  • Remove fat from homemade broths, soups and stews by preparing them ahead and chilling them. Before reheating the dish, lift off the hardened fat that formed at the surface. If you don’t have time to chill the dish, then float a few ice cubes on the surface of the warm liquid to harden the fat. Then, remove and discard the fat.
  • Use cooking spray, water or stock to sauté onion for flavoring stews, soups and sauces.

For Breads

  • To make muffins, quick breads and biscuits, use no more than 1–2 tablespoons of fat for each cup of flour.
  • When making muffins or quick breads, use three ripe, very well-mashed bananas, instead of 1/2 cup butter or oil. Or, substitute a cup of applesauce for a cup of butter, margarine, oil, or shortening—you’ll get less saturated fat and fewer calories.

For Desserts

  • To make a pie crust, use only 1/2 cup margarine for every 2 cups flour.
  • For chocolate desserts, use 3 tablespoons of cocoa, instead of 1 ounce of baking chocolate. If fat is needed to replace that in chocolate, add 1 tablespoon or less of vegetable oil.
  • To make cakes and soft-drop cookies, use no more than 2 tablespoons of fat for each cup of flour.

These tips are courtesy of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s “Save the Beat: Heart Healthy Recipes,” which can be accessed online at