Ellie Krieger was born a food lover. Her mom jokes that Krieger's becoming a dietitian is like a pyrotechnic's becoming a firefighter. But Krieger—host of the Food Network's Healthy Appetite and author of a new companion cookbook, The Food You Crave—believes that healthful eating doesn't have to be about diet and deprivation and can be scrumptious. Her cooking emphasizes taste, nutrition and, as she's the mother of a 5-year-old, ease.
"My dishes are delicious, doable and good for my body," says Krieger. "They're everything I want from food."
Here are Krieger's top 10 tips for making the foods you crave more healthful.
1. Never say never: "The cornerstone of my cooking is to use butter, cream and bacon, but in small amounts where they'll have maximum impact," Krieger says. "Then you never feel deprived."
2. Use better sweets: Krieger replaces sugar with less refined, more nutritious sweetening agents wherever possible, such as antioxidant-rich honey in smoothies, and molasses, loaded with iron and calcium, in barbecue sauce.
3. Add fresh herbs: Toss in fresh herbs for a boost in color, flavor and health benefits-they're rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
4. Make vegetables special: "Vegetables are always an afterthought-so, of course, they're not going to be enticing," says Krieger. She toasts garlic and breadcrumbs with steamed broccoli for "Dirty" Broccoli, a kid-favorite.
5. Hold the mayo: Thick, plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is a great way to cut the amount of fat-laden mayo in chicken salad or ranch dressing.
6. Measure your oil: While oils can be full of health-boosters, they're also full of calories. "It's easy to glug, glug, glug when you pour," says Krieger. "Measure so you don't overdo it."
7. Oven fry: French fries are Krieger's favorite food. To feel good about satisfying her urge, she cuts potatoes into matchsticks, coats them in canola oil and garlic, and bakes at 450F until they're crisp and golden.
8. Get meat smart: Protein is good, but we eat too much meat, says Krieger. Buy lean cuts and prepare them so the 3- to 4-ounce recommended serving feels like a lot: Thinly slice your steak for tacos, or use beans to supplement meat.
9. Bake with oil: Try replacing the butter in your muffins with heart-healthy (and neutral-tasting) canola oil.
10. Stock up: Fill your kitchen with frozen, canned and dried fruits and vegetables. The low-sodium versions are just as nutritious as fresh varieties, and they'll ensure that you always have a quick, healthful meal at your fingertips.
By Veronika Ruff, a food writer in Jackson Heights, N.Y.