March 5, 2018

Is Your Favorite Recipe Healthy (or Not)?

10 tips for including good ingredients, exploring options

How Can You Tell If a Recipe Is Healthy? 10 Tips

If you want to enjoy a healthier lifestyle, cooking at home is a great place to start. But how can you be sure the recipes you find online — or that your own go-to recipes — are healthy? Follow these tips from Beth Bluestone, RD, LD:


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

1. Look for veggies

Search for vegetarian recipes that are loaded with all different types and colors of vegetables. (You can always add a side of grilled chicken or fish if you want meat with the meal.)

2. Use whole grains

Think beyond white rice. Try brown rice, quinoa, farro, spelt berries, and whole wheat or whole grain pasta or flour. Explore the ancient grains! They have a wonderful flavor.

3. Substitute pasta

In place of high-starch pasta dishes, look for recipes that feature alternatives like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Or try bean-based pastas — they’re loaded with fiber and protein.

4. Bake, don’t fry

Avoid recipes that call for breading and frying. Baking is preferable.


5. Slash the sugar

You can typically cut sugar by one-third to one-half of what is called for in a muffin or breakfast bread (zucchini or banana bread) recipe.

6. Reduce the oil

Start with less oil than the recipe calls for, or sauté using low-sodium broth or water instead.

7. Cut the salt

Look for recipes that use lots of herbs and spices. This will bring in wonderful flavor without adding sodium.

8. Limit the cheese

Don’t ruin your wonderful vegetable bake by loading it up with cheese. Cut the amount in half and you’ll still enjoy a cheesy flavor. (Better yet: Find a recipe that doesn’t call for cheese).


9. Choose dark greens

Choose salad recipes calling for dark, leafy greens (spinach, mixed greens, arugula, kale) instead of iceberg lettuce. Include a variety of vegetables. Avoid heavy cream dressings like ranch; use a vinaigrette, or olive oil with a squeeze of lemon. Replace croutons with walnuts or pumpkin seeds for crunch.

10. Try meatless

Explore bean or lentil recipes in place of meat. You’ll be surprised to discover how satisfying a spicy black bean burger can be.

Follow these guidelines when planning your meals, and you’ll not only discover new flavors and textures — you’ll start feeling (and looking) better, too.

Related Articles

Small cup of yogurt with fresh blueberries on top, with mint sprig
March 1, 2024
Easy, Low-Calorie Snacks To Get You Through the Day

Snacking can bring benefits with healthy food choices and planning

Various cuts of red meat displayed
February 14, 2024
Is Red Meat Bad for You?

It has nutrients your body needs, but it also comes with some serious health risks

Meal prepping various dishes for snack, lunch and dinner
January 29, 2024
75 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

No more scrambling to figure out what to eat during your busy week

Display of various types of foods prepped in individual containers
January 15, 2024
A Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Meal Prep

Set yourself up for success by carefully choosing your recipes, storage containers and prepping day

Closeup of roasted garlic tomato zucchini bake on a stoneware plate with grated cheese garnish
January 3, 2024
Recipe: Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Tomato Bake

A colorful side dish to brighten any meal

cool tropical smoothie with straw
November 29, 2023
Recipe: Cool Tropical Smoothie

A zesty thirst-quencher that’s dairy-free and vegan

skillet of ground turkey stroganoff
November 27, 2023
Recipe: Healthy Turkey Stroganoff

A hearty dish that’s easy to put together

Overhead closeup of cauliflower pseudo mashed potatoes in a bowl on a wooden table.
November 20, 2023
Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed Pseudo Potatoes

A creamy mashed cauliflower that’s sure to please

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes