Reengineering Recipes

Smart adjustments without sacrificing flavor


When I tell people that I create healthy recipes, their minds immediately think of dishes like raw tofu sautéed with peat moss and sprinkled with twigs.

As good as that sounds (KIDDING!), healthy cooking is simply about thinking smarter. I like to eat good food as much as the next person, so it made sense for me to create recipes that saved on fat, calories, carbs and sugar so I COULD eat well, but not feel “cheated” in terms of taste and variety.

Changing recipes to make them healthier isn’t hard at all. Basic changes can go a long way to lighten a dish, even if you’re not a pro. Instead of deep-frying anything, just use a tablespoon or two of oil in a pan. On a high heat, sauté it! (Translation-there IS no deep-frying in healthy cooking.) You’ll save a ton of calories. Once you’re used to it, the dishes taste great. You’ll actually experience the taste of the ingredients. 
One of my favorite kitchen tools is the Misto-a reusable spray can that I fill with olive oil to coat pans. I also use one for grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, etc. They’re very handy! 

Then I substitute low sodium chicken or vegetable broth for extra oil to keep the foods moist without adding fat and calories and keep the ingredients from sticking to the pan. A dish doesn’t have to be loaded with oil to taste good. Try using non-fat or low fat plain Greek yogurt instead of full fat sour cream. You’ll save about 10-12 grams of fat and won’t notice a change in flavor. 

Stevia works well as a sugar substitute in cooking and baking and is all natural. If you like salt in your food, use sea salt or one of the more natural versions. Salt is salt-the sodium levels don’t change whether it’s from the Black Sea or Siberia, but many of them have added minerals. Table salt has been over-processed. Don’t bother. I never use salt to cook; occasionally I’ll add a touch at the very end, right before plating, if needed. Most people salt their food, anyway. Why give them more sodium than they need? Then they’ll feel bloated the next day and blame you. Who needs the stress?

Use fresh herbs as much as possible when cooking. Your dishes will taste fresher because of them. When using eggs in recipes, substitute an extra egg white or two instead of using yolks. 

I bet you can think of even more tips if you pay attention. These are easy, straightforward changes that everyone can make to keep their calories under control without feeling deprived of anything. Have other tips?  Share them here! I’d love to know. This is my version of Chicken Pot Pie. It’s MUCH healthier than a full fat/full carb version, which can have 30 grams of fat and over 600 calories per serving. My recipe gives you all the taste, including a crust, with less than half the fat and calories. I bet you and your family won’t be able to tell the difference.

Rona’s Reengineered Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

Nutritional breakdown per serving:
Calories: 350 /Protein: 26gr / Sodium 311mg / Fat: 12gr           
Carbohydrates: 38gr / Sat Fat: 4gr / Fiber: 4gr / Sugar: 9gr           

This version is high in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.  It also has a lot of riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and is very high in Protein, but low on the Glycemic Index!

1 raw, organic, whole wheat pie crust (I don’t bake, these are quicker)

Butter spray
1 leek, sliced and rinsed
1 large carrot or a handful of small, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (can use regular if desired)
1 Tbs all purpose flour
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsps fresh dill, minced
½ red pepper, diced
½ cup Portobello mushrooms, diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups cubed chicken breast, cooked and seasoned
1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 cup non-fat half and half
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Ground pepper, to taste

Prep directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice pie dough into ½” strips using a pizza wheel.  Set aside.

Spray medium saucepan well with butter spray. Heat over med-high flame. Add the leek, carrot and potato.  Cook, stiring until the leek is softened. About 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir for 1minute. Stir in the broth. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to low.   Simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, half and half, parsley and dill.  Simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 more minutes. Season with lots of pepper. Spoon the filling into a deep 2 or 3 quart baking dish. Place the dough on top of the filling in a latticework pattern. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Serve immediately. 

Rona Lewis is an LA-based fitness and lifestyle coach, cookbook author and motivational speaker. The first in her cookbook series, Does This Cookbook Make Me Look Fat? Healthy Recipes Even HE Will Eat!, is available at Her second book, Does This Cookbook Make Me Look Fat? Vol. 2 Healthy Recipes For Entertaining, will be out this Spring.

Mentioned in this article


  • Rona,
    We are kindred spirits. I have been "reengineering" recipes for the past fifteen years. My family and dinner guests are amazed that lowfat, low sodium dishes could taste so wonderful. Thanks for the great suggestions.

    A few other suggestions and substitutions:
    Use fat free half and half in place of cream
    Use fat free sour cream
    Substitute olive oil for butter in recipes except for baking.
    Use butter spray on vegetables
    Use egg beaters in place of whole eggs
    Use applesauce in baking in place of vegetable oil

    Apr 23, 2011 at 10:49 AM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    those are some great suggestions! I do use non-fat half and half instead of cream in this recipe and have heard about the applesauce substitution. I don't bake because I'll EAT it if I do, but that's a great tip! Thanks for sharing. Isn't it astounding how fresh and delicious food can taste when you take out all the fat, sugar and fake flavors?

    Apr 23, 2011 at 11:10 AM

  • Snooth User: coccar
    279887 3

    cant wait too try this healthy version ! Thanks !

    Apr 29, 2011 at 4:24 PM

  • Write your comment here.

    May 01, 2011 at 3:50 AM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network