Alternative Cook Offers Nutrition Tips for National Nutrition Month

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Jean Duane, Alternative Cook offers easy tips for National Nutrition Month on converting recipes to be more nutritious, gluten and dairy free, with fewer calories and no cholesterol. Sound impossible? Read on. You might be surprised at how easy it is.

Vegetarian foods taste great if you know a few tricks. It's less expensive, more nutritious and lower calorie than dairy and animal-based foods. Go gluten-free for maximum benefits

To maximize health during National Nutrition Month, how about designating two or three days a week as 'healthy days' and eat vegetarian or even vegan on those days? The benefits extend from loosing weight to saving money. "Vegetarian foods taste great if you know a few tricks. It's less expensive, more nutritious and lower calorie than dairy and animal-based foods. Go gluten-free for maximum benefits" says cooking DVD producer and author, Jean Duane, Alternative Cook.

Let's say you enjoy Mexican foods, but want to avoid the meat, cheese, high fat calories and cholesterol associated with it. Two beef and cheese enchiladas on average contain 1400 calories, 90 grams of fat and 234 grams of cholesterol. That's more than half of your recommended daily allowance! To make authentic-tasting Mexican foods packed with nutrition, first think about the spices and flavors identified with Mexican foods such as chili powder, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, mild green chilies, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, tomatoes, lime and tamarind. Next, think about the 'mouth-feel' - the smooth, creamy cheese and guacomole, spicy sauces combined with chewy tortillas and crunchy chopped vegetables on top. Finally, consider main ingredients - beans, corn, rice, meat, cheese, salsa, sour cream, tortillas and vegetables. With this in mind, let's look at alternatives to convert a traditional dish to be vegetarian, gluten and dairy free to boot!

Nutritious Alternatives
To cut calories and cholesterol, instead of using beef, use half pinto beans and half chopped mushrooms. This combination makes a nice "beefy" taste and texture, but with no fat or cholesterol.

Instead of using high-fat cheddar or American cheese, make a dairy free filling with tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic and fresh herbs. It is delicious and tastes just like cheese. Forego the cheese on top, and substitute with fresh shredded zucchini and salsa.

Sour Cream
Thinning silken tofu in a food processor adding a little vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil makes delicious sour cream alternative with no fat and no cholesterol. (Recipe below.)

Emphasize Veggies
Top the dish with chopped spinach, shredded jicama or lettuce and pile on the guacomole. Guacomole may contain fat, but it is good for you, and so easy to make. Just mash avocado with a little lemon juice and garlic salt.

Fresh Salsa
Fresh salsas the perfect thing to celebrate Nutrition Week and spring! Just chop jicama, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, onion, corn kernels, a little lime juice, and salt.

Equipped with these new alternatives, let's convert a recipe. The new version has 647 calories, 19 grams of fat and 0 cholesterol. Just knowing you reduced the calories by 54%, fat by a whopping 79% and cholesterol to zero - without sacrificing the taste - you and your family will enjoy it even more! To learn more about how to enjoy the wonderful flavors of Mexico, gluten and dairy free with no cholesterol please visit

Beef and Cheese Enchiladas
2 TBS oil
1 yellow onion
2 pounds ground beef
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 cup medium salsa
1 tsp. garlic salt
12 corn tortillas
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
Top with sour cream

Healthier Conversion
"Beef" and "Cheese" Enchiladas
With Sour Cream Alternative
1 TBS oil
1 yellow onion
1/2 pound button mushrooms
2 cans pinto beans (drained)
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 cup medium salsa
1 tsp. garlic salt
12 corn tortillas
8 oz. silky tofu
3 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS lemon juice

Directions to make Healthier Version:
1. Chop mushrooms and place in a skillet with oil. Cook on medium heat until half done. Add onions. Cook until onions are opaque. Add pinto beans, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salsa and garlic salt.
2. Heat a clean skillet and spray with spray-on oil. Place a corn tortilla on the hot surface. Press with a spatula and turn. Repeat for all tortillas. (Most corn tortillas are gluten free.)
3. Fill tortillas and place in a casserole and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
4. To make sour cream alternative, place tofu, yeast, vinegar, salt and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in oil and process until smooth. Taste. Adjust.
5. Remove enchiladas from oven and top with sour cream alternative, shredded spinach, zucchini and home-made salsa. Serves 6.

Converting a recipe like this is good news for those with Celiac disease, gluten or dairy intolerance, high cholesterol, and for those with Autism or Aspergers' disease following a GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diet. For more information on how to cook healthier, please sign up for the Alternative Cook's free newsletter which is chock-full of healthy baking and cooking ideas to make your life easier and healthier.    

Jean Duane, Alternative Cook produces gluten-free, dairy-free, low cholesterol cooking instruction on DVD, video stream and in a cookbook. For more information, please visit

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