I cook for 4 very uniquely different people in my family. Each of them have their own needs in regards to nutrition. I must cook to meet the following criteria/ conditions: low fat, weight loss , pre-diabetic, hypoglycemic, elevated A1C levels - could be genetic or medicine induced, watching weight - one medicine can cause significant weight gain, ADHD and Autism. I am determined to help meet each of their needs while only cooking one meal. This process began with reducing/ eliminating processed foods from our diet.
What I am learning in searching for recipes is that eating clean/ real foods does not mean eating heart healthy and many websites do not have portion sizes or nutritional information. One thing I always do is to put the recipe in my Weight Watchers recipe builder. I cannot possibly know how many calories/ points something has until I calculate it. Most of the time I have calculated before I even buy ingredients. Sometimes, if I know it will be OK -points wise - I will go ahead and make it, so that I can determine number of portions or portion sizes. Calculating points of all recipes is so helpful in portion control and as a result - my weight loss. My personal opinion is that one the reasons we have such an obesity problem in the United States - we do not know true portion sizes. I think the second would be fat and chemicals and who knows what else is in our processed foods.
I also found that some of the recipes for clean/real food eating were foods are high in calories and use butter a lot. While I agree that butter is much better than margarine, it can raise the fat content/ calories of whatever you are cooking. In most of the recipes on my blog, I am either reducing the quantity of butter/ oil used or using an alternative such as applesauce, fat free yogurt or fat free sour cream. The secret - don't be afraid to try. I mostly use applesauce. I found the following information helpful in substituting with applesauce.
Substituting applesaucefor butter or oil:
So start easy. For a recipe that uses one cup of oil, use ½ cup of oil with ½ cup applesauce. If the finished product makes you happy, slightly increase the ratio of applesauce (2/3 applesauce: 1/3 oil; ¾ applesauce: ¼ oil) the next time to see how it affects the cake or muffin recipe. You may be able to do without oil completely, or you might find that as little as 1 or 2 tbsp. of oil added to the applesauce is ideal.
I guess what I am really saying, use common sense and balance in looking at all recipes. If it calls for a cup of butter - it is probably not very healthy - but you can probably substitute something to make it healthier. If it is full of chemicals and very processed - it is probably not very healthy. If nutritional information is not available, calculate it so you will know how it will fit in your healthy eating plan.
Balance is the key - even homemade healthy options can be unhealthy when eaten in excess.