I grew up in a Ukrainian family where butter, bacon, sour cream and gravy were the four major food groups. Dill pickles were considered a vegetable course. The word ‘salad’ meant one of two things: a neon-green Jell-O™ moulded salad with grated carrots, or thick mayo cole slaw. Every lunch and dinner menu included homebaked pies, gooey butter tarts or layer cakes for desserts. We were heart attacks waiting to happen.
Since my own heart attack, however, I have tried to adapt and improve many of my old favourite family recipes to boost their nutritional value. Sometimes it means just replacing high-fat whipped cream with low-fat French Vanilla yogurt on a fruit crumble, but sometimes it’s a complete remodel of an old recipe. My heart-healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies and Sushi Pizza are just two examples of how great taste can actually be surprisingly good for you.
In some old recipes, I like experimenting with using egg whites when recipes call for eggs, whole wheat flour instead of bleached white, heart-smart fats like canola or olive oil instead of butter, low-fat skim milk instead of homogenized – you get the idea.
Do you have a prized recipe that’s been a family favourite for many years – but now just makes you feel too guilty to enjoy? If you’d like the registered Health Check dieticians at the Heart & Stroke Foundation to do a healthy makeover of your best-loved recipe, consider submitting it to them for their recipe makeover contest. If your recipe is chosen, it will be improved to Health Check standards, featured on their website, and you’ll also win a copy of Bonnie Sterns Heart Smart Cooking, one of my most loved and well-worn cookbooks.
I’m not sure if even the Health Check dieticians could make the perogies and cabbage rolls of our Ukrainian Christmas Eve svyata vechera 12-course feast any more healthy. We could start with the borscht, of course – a jewel-red beet soup whose nutritional value might be instantly improved if you just took that big fat greasy pork hock out of the broth. But that’s an example of the kind of nutritional challenge that could spur you to enter this unique makeover contest.
All recipes must be original (not from a cookbook, magazine or website) and there are some menu choice restrictions. Find out more about how to enter this recipe makeover contest.
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