People email me with all kinds of questions. These are the most frequent ones.
How do you define “healthy recipes?”
I believe that “healthy” means homemade; not mass-manufactured and factory-processed; fresh and wholesome, with no preservatives, weird additives (Sorbitan Monostearate, anyone?), or trans fats. A recipe that uses a short list of recognizable ingredients. This is the very basic definition. In addition, ideally, the recipe would be low in sugar and carbs, and high in protein and healthy fat.
You say that your recipes are healthy, but they are not low-fat!
Low-fat diets are harmful. Our bodies need fat. The only fats you should avoid are man-made trans fats and industrial seed oils (soybean oil, canola oil etc.). Here’s a detailed explanation on healthy fats.
Well, some of the recipes here are just unhealthy, period. Fried chicken? Seriously?
It’s true. While I consider most of the recipes here as very healthy, I do include the occasional unhealthy recipe, and the reason is simple: this blog, in addition to being a public blog, is my cookbook. It is, in fact, the only cookbook I use when cooking for my family, and when I make a recipe that I like and want to make again, I include it here, even if it’s an occasional indulgence and not something I would make on a regular basis. If you come across one of these recipes, and object to it, simply ignore it and pick the ones you do approve of.
Can you post a recipe for diet coke cake?
Sorry, I can’t. I only use real food, so many classic “diet” recipes are absent from this blog. Such as “diet coke cake”; anything made with Cool Whip, Egg Beaters, boxed cake mixes or margarine; or any other recipe that attempts to reduce calories and fat by using food-like substitutes and artificial chemicals.
Yes, I would choose heavy cream (in moderation) over Cool Whip any day, and I also prefer butter to rancid, highly processed, easily-oxidized, omega-6-rich vegetable oils.
List of ingredients in Cool Whip, Original:
Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut and Palm Kernel Oils), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Skim Milk, Light Cream, Contains Less than 2% of Sodium Caseinate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Xanthan and Guar Gums, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Beta Carotene (Color).
List of ingredients in Straus organic heavy cream:
Pasteurized organic cream.
Are you familiar with a recipe for chicken breast coated with mayonnaise for baking? If so, can I use a mayo substitute such as Smart Beat instead of the real thing?
I rarely use store-bought mayonnaise. It’s based on industrial seed oils (usually soybean oil or canola oil) and often contains weird additives and preservatives. Specifically, the list of ingredients for Smart Beat is filled with franken-ingredients that I would not like to put in my body:
Water, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Vinegar, Maltodextrin, Salt, Cellulose Gel, Egg Whites, Lactic Acid, Artificial Colors, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Disodium EDTA Used to protect quality, Lemon Juice, Flavors, Colored With Beta Carotene, Onion Powder, Garlic Juice Concentrate, Oleoresin, Paprika.
Why not just rub the chicken with a tasty rub of olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and paprika? Delicious and healthy. Here’s a good recipe.
Are you Paleo/Primal?
Many of my recipes are paleo or primal, but I’m not super strict about it. I love the Paleo insistence on clean eating, and I agree that grain and legume consumption is best minimized, but I don’t avoid them completely, and I certainly don’t avoid dairy, especially aged cheeses.
Are you doing low-carb?
Yes, but without frankenfoods. Over the past few years, I have become convinced that the government-prescribed diet of the past three decades – a high-carb, high-grain, low-fat diet, was a mistake. Unless we’re professional athletes or otherwise extremely active, our bodies do not need and cannot handle these huge amounts of carbohydrates. Most of us thrive on a lower-carb diet, where carbohydrates come from vegetables, low-sugar fruit and root vegetables; not from bread and pasta, and certainly not from Oreos and Gummy Bears.
I find that what works best for me is eating low-carb (50-100 grams of carbs per day), enjoying healthy fats, minimizing grains and sugar, and completely avoiding processed junk. If we must define my diet, the closest would be LCHF (low-carb, high-fat), sans the diet soda and artificial sweeteners.
Low carb? This blog is filled with recipes for high-carb baked goods, pasta and potatoes!
I didn’t start out eating low-carb. It’s evolved overtime, and this blog reflects that. When my husband was first diagnosed with prediabetes, we tried using whole-wheat flour and “healthy” grains (brown rice, quinoa) while keeping our carb intake at around 50% of total energy. But his blood sugar kept climbing, so we gradually moved to low-carb, grain-free, and high-fat. This has worked well to bring his blood sugar back to normal levels, and resolve my frequent hypoglycemia episodes. But even now, when I do eat low-carb, I still allow myself the occasional higher-carb day, which means that baked goods, while considered a once-in-awhile indulgence, are not completely off limits for me.
How do you divide your macronutrients?
I try not to obsess about it, but random checks on fitday.com show that I usually eat around 2,200 daily calories; roughly 20% of those are protein (from meat, fish, eggs and cheese), 10%-20% are carbs (from veggies and low-sugar fruit) and 60%-70% are fat (from fatty cuts of meat, fatty fish, aged cheeses, whole milk yogurt, avocados, nuts and nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, butter and heavy cream). As I said, there *are* higher-carb days when I enjoy baked sweet potatoes, rice, or a small serving of homemade baked goods.
These muffins/cookies/cupcakes look delicious. Can you develop a low-carb version of them?
I have many recipes on this blog that use almond flour or coconut flour instead of wheat flour, which considerably lowers their carb count and glycemic load, however they’re still sweetened with honey, maple syrup or a small amount of white sugar, so they are not truly low-carb. Most of these recipes include the nutritional info for a low-carb option using either a xylitol-based honey substitute or Swerve (erythritol based), and although I believe both are OK to use once in awhile, I haven’t actually tested these substitutions in my recipes, so please proceed with caution.
I also have several recipes for baked goods sweetened with xylitol, which I believe is generally safe, but since one of us seems to be sensitive to it, I don’t use it very often. To find those recipes, simply use the search box to search for “xylitol.”
My own philosophy regarding baked goods and desserts is that they should not be part of one’s daily diet. Since I only have these items once in awhile (maybe once a month), when I do have them, I allow myself real sweeteners rather than fake ones.
Where do you stand on organic and/or GMO?
I try to buy the highest-quality food I can, which often means local, organic, pasture-raised, wild caught and GMO-free. However, these foods are expensive, and I still think that the more pressing goal is to rid our diets of processed foods. If your diet consists of conventional fresh produce, meat, fish and dairy, and does not include processed junk, I think you’re doing quite well actually – possibly even better than someone who relies on a lot of organic processed, sugary foods. For example, a breakfast of a vegan, organic, GMO-free donut and coffee is inferior, in my personal opinion, to a non-organic breakfast of a three-egg veggie omelet with a cup of fresh berries and coffee.
Do you have any formal education in nutrition/cooking?
No! I’m just a busy mom, trying to find a way to make everyday recipes better for my family. I have no special talent as a chef – just curiosity and a willingness to learn and to try new things.
Where do you find your recipes?
Some of my recipes are based on a single recipe that I’ve tweaked to some extent. In these cases, I mention the original recipe. Other recipes are a combination of several different recipes. Recently, I’ve been coming up with my own recipes – it turns out that after years of cooking and baking, one gets a general idea of the basics and of what works/doesn’t work.
How do I know these recipes work?
I have made all of the recipes in this blog- most of them more than once – so they are all tried and tested. In fact, I had to make several attempts at many of the recipes here until I got to perfection. I never publish a recipe unless it’s a success, not just by my definition but by my family’s standards. So once I’m satisfied with a recipe, I serve it to my family, and I ask them, “Is this blog-worthy?” Only the recipes that are deemed blog-worthy by at least three of us (we are a family of four) find their way into this blog.
I tried one of your recipes and it did not work for me. Why?
I wish I knew. As much as my recipes are exact, there are so many variables that can influence the result. The exact ingredients used (freshness of eggs or baking powder, type of salt – a Facebook fan recently complained that a recipe came out too salty. Turns out, she used fine sea salt instead of coarse kosher salt); the pan (nonstick, aluminum, cast iron, dark, light, heavy, lightweight); the oven – you wouldn’t believe how different ovens vary in temperature; even the humidity – all of these can make a difference.
My advice? Try to view the recipes in this blog – any recipe in fact – as general guidelines, but always use your own judgement and try to adjust along the way according to the flavors and textures you’re getting in your own kitchen, with your own ingredients and tools. Kind of like following a GPS in your car but still looking around and making sure the virtual directions make sense in reality.
How do you calculate nutrition facts?
I mostly use this recipe calculator.
Why did you stop including Weight Watchers points in your recipes?
As far as I can tell, Weight Watchers points calculate all fats as bad. I disagree that fats are bad, and I especially disagree that *all* fats are bad.
Weight Watchers just changed their program. It now includes watching calories, saturated fats, sugars and protein. Love your recipes, are there plans to include saturated fats in the nutritional stats?
Sigh. I strongly believe that Weight Watchers is wrong on this – that saturated fats are completely harmless and should not be singled out or limited. Weight Watchers has a way of always being a couple of years behind current science, and the SmartPoints program is a good example. But since this will make life easier for those who use Weight Watchers, I will go ahead and include saturated fat info for future recipes. I can’t go back through my existing 700 recipes though, so this will be for new recipes only.
Why don’t you include cholesterol in your nutritional info?
For most people, cholesterol in food does not raise bad serum cholesterol, so there’s no need to single it out or to try to avoid it.
I don’t have whole-wheat flour in the house. May I substitute all-purpose flour?
Whole-wheat flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour and absorbs more liquid. Most baked goods recipes in this blog are tweaked to reflect that. In quick breads and muffins, the difference isn’t huge, so you can probably use all-purpose flour while keeping the rest of the recipe as is (keep in mind that nutritional values will change). In biscuits, scones and cookies it becomes trickier – batter may be too runny. And when it comes to yeast breads the answer is a definite no – I’ve tweaked these recipes heavily to work with whole-wheat flour.
Doesn’t all this healthifying result in food that simply does not taste very good?
A friend recently asked me, “what do you miss the most ever since you gave up junk food?” and I honestly didn’t know what to say. Sure, I mostly gave up white sugar, wheat and other grains; I avoid commercial processed food and I don’t touch fast food. But my meals have never been so flavorful or so varied. I eat better than I ever have, and without all the added sugar, flavorings and preservatives, I also enjoy my food more than ever – I think our palate tends to become more sensitive when we eat cleaner. So no, I can’t agree that healthy food is inferior to unhealthy food in terms of flavor. I think it’s far superior, although you do have to go through a period of adjusting – for example, most Paleo treats would not taste sweet enough to a palate that’s accustomed to commercial candy, but once you start eating clean, commercial treats taste like sugar laced with industrial chemicals.
Why do you sometimes change already-published recipes?
Occasionally, I go back and change recipes if I make an even better version of them. This doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the original recipe – just that I found a way to make it even better or healthier. The way I see it, a blog is a live thing that keeps changing and developing. I don’t feel a need to keep things frozen. Sure, I could publish a new post with the new version for the same recipe, but that would just weigh down the blog and create duplicate recipes.
How do you stay fit?
I avoid sugary, calorie-dense junk, stay active, and eat to satiety – not until I’m stuffed.
“Stay active” – can you elaborate?
I walk five miles every day, do an hour of pilates three times per week and lift small weights three times per week.
So you eat healthy, stay active – you must have *some* vices? Do share!
Of course I do. But I don’t consider the occasional unhealthy treat a vice. Surely you’re familiar with the 80/20 or 90/10 rule of eating healthy most of the time, not all of the time.
Can you translate your annoying American measurements into European?
Sure – here’s my cooking conversions page.
Why no comments on this blog?
I find that online anonymity and the lack of face-to-face accountably often result in aggressiveness and negativity that I am unwilling to deal with. Yes, most commenters are nice and supportive, but the few that are not can take the fun out of online publishing. In real life, I have surrounded myself with love and support and have distanced myself from toxic friends. By closing comments, I am doing the same online. If you need to contact me, or ask a question, please email me: HealthyRecipesBlog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Whoa, why did you show me that sleazy ad? I’m offended.
The ads on this site are served by reputable ad networks, but once in a while a sleazy disgusting ad does slip in. Do me a favor? If you ever see an offensive ad on this website, drop me a line and include a screenshot, so that I can try to have it removed: HealthyRecipesBlog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Who is the photographer behind this blog?
I photograph the vast majority of recipes. Very rarely, I use a purchased stock photo, in which case I credit the photographer.
What camera/lens do you use?
In 2011, I started out with Nikon D60 Digital SLR Camera with an 18-55mm lens. In 2013, still with the same camera, I started using a new lens – Tamron SP 60mm F/2 Macro. And in 2016 I upgraded to a Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens.