Use this, not that in your cooking

These simple ingredient swaps will make your favorite kitchen creations healthier .

1. MASHED AVOCADO for butter or oil in baking. Not all fats are bad for you. Olive oil, nuts and avocados are high in monounsaturated fats– the good kind which help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

2. NON FAT GREEK YOGURT instead of sour cream or mayo. The next time a recipe calls for mayo or sour cream, substitute it with yogurt which is lower in calories and fat content.

3. MASHED BANANAS instead of sugar or fats. A banana will make your cereal or oatmeal taste better, plus you can add them to your cakes and muffins. Bananas lowers potassium and keeps your digestive system working smoothly.

4. APPLESAUCE for butter, oil or sugar. Applesauce is a baker’s best friend, adding sweetness with fewer calories than sugar and can be used in the place of butter to cut saturated fats.

5. SODA WATER instead of tonic water. When ordering a drink, ask for soda water rather than a tonic which has a high sugar content.

6. ZUCCHINI RIBBONS OR SPAGHETTI SQUASH– With a peeler you can make long slices of zucchini or spaghetti squash with no need to boil them, but only to bake or saute’ them for a few minutes then they can be used in side dishes which also adds more veggies to your meals.

7. NUTS for use in salads in place of croutons. Nut adds flavor and crunch and a dose of protein, plus walnuts and almonds are two of the heart healthiest nuts.

8. PUREED SWEET POTATO instead of cream to thicken soups. On cold winter days like we are having now, nothing beats a good soup. Instead of adding cream to thicken your soups, add pureed sweet potato which has less fat.

9. WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR instead of white flour. When a recipe calls for flour choose whole wheat instead of white or go half and half where you will not notice the difference in taste but your body will see the difference in nutrient intake.

10. ROLLED OATS instead of bread crumbs. The breaded chicken which tastes so good is the worst part for you, so substitute rolled oats for the bread crumbs which are high in fiber and vitamin B and Iron.

How are your New Years resolutions doing?

Until next week!

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Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 3-inch stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons ground fresh chili paste

3 cups chicken broth

1 1/4 cups coconut milk

4 teaspoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup sliced green onions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and next 4 ingredients to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chili paste, cook 1 minute. Add broth, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken to pan and cook 1 minute or until throughly heated. Discard lemongrass. Stir in onions, cilantro and juice.

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Fettucine with Mushrooms and Hazelnuts

1 9-ounce package refrigerated fresh linguine

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 4-ounce packages exotic mushroom blend

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons freshly chopped sage

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts to pan and saute for 3 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove from pan. Add oil to pan, then garlic, mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Saute mushroom mixture 5 minutes; stir in sage. Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; toss well to combine. Remove from heat, top with cheese, toasted hazelnuts and chives.

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Whole Roasted Endives with Pear, Arugula and Walnut Salad

1 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon sugar

2 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 large pear, cored and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve in a bowl; discards solids. Brush olive oil on a baking sheet arrange endive halves cutside down on pan. Brush 2 tablespoons cider mixture on endive, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, turn endive halfs over. Brush sides with 2 tablespoons of mixture. Preheat broiler. Broil endive 4 minutes or until edges turn brown. Combine remaining salt, pepper, cider mixture, lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add arugula and pear, tossing to coat. Arrange 2 endive halves on each of 4 plates and top with 1 1/2 cups mixture.

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No-Bake Fresh Strawberry Pie

25 chocolate wafers

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 teaspoons canola oil

6 ounces less-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

2 tablespoon seedless strawberry fruit spread

1 tablespoons raspberry-flavored liquor

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound small strawberries, hulled and cut in half

Place chocolate wafers in a food processor and process until finely ground. Place chopped chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Add chocolate and oil to food processor and process until well combined. Gently press mixture into bottom and up sides of a pie plate. Place in freezer 14 minutes or until set. Place cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl and beat with mixer on medium speed until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Carefully spread on crust. Place fruit spread in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 10 seconds. Add liquor and lemon juice and stir with whisk until smooth. Add berry halves and toss to combine. Arrange berry halves over pie. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

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Kiki Angelos is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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