Recipe Makeovers for 2012

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

The New Year is here along with resolutions and goals for 2012. This a perfect time for a makeover to start the year off right. We’re not talking about a new hair style or a new “look” but ideas for how to become a “recipe makeover artist” and transform your favorite recipe into a tasty and healthy Reboot-friendly dish.


When it comes to recipe makeovers,
The First Step is to consider how you prepare your food so you get the most out of them (and we don’t mean the most calories, we mean the most nutrients!). If a recipe calls for frying, try baking, broiling, grilling, roasting or steaming your food instead. Stir frying is acceptable as well with a small amount of oil. And of course raw is a good choice too.


We know that some nutrients can be depleted with over cooking or certain methods of food preparation. These nutrient losses can be minimized by speedy cooking in minimal amounts of water. Try steaming or stir-fry vegetables instead of boiling to reduce the amount of time they are exposed to heat. A recent study published in the Journal of Food Science found that pressure-cooking and boiling led to the greatest loss of antioxidant activity in some vegetables (up to 50%), while steaming preserved the most nutrients. Another helpful tip: cut up vegetables into small pieces right before cooking to decrease the amount of time that their surface is exposed to air.


The next step in a recipe makeover is to consider your ingredients.

Find the high fat items and replace them with lower fat choices. For example:
• Bake or broil foods drizzled with a dab of olive oil instead of pan frying
• In place of meat use mushrooms


Look for vegetable sources to replace of dairy or other animal proteins, this will boost your intake of plant-based foods. For example:
• In place of cream in soup use blended potatoes (bake or boil the potatoes in the soup before pureeing/blending- add water or more homemade veggie pulp broth if it’s too thick)


How to make a recipe Reboot friendly:
Here is a list of foods that are OK and those not OK during your Reboot. VegetablesFruits, Herbs and Spices.
Keep these on hand when making over your recipes for your Reboot.



STUFFED PEPPERS. Traditionally these are made with ground beef and cheese. Here are a few ideas on how to spin this classic into a new and improved Reboot favorite.
Ingredient Swap:

  • In place of ground beef, saute mushrooms with garlic, onion and chopped peppers. Use a variety of mushrooms if you like but any kind will work well. I particularly like the flavor of portabella or baby bella mushrooms mixed in with white button mushrooms.
  • Add herbs and spices like thyme, oregano, basil, pepper, chives, etc.
  • After your reboot, to make the filling thicker without cheese, use 1 Tbsp ground flax seed and 3 Tbsp water. Add more flax and water as needed until you reach desired thickness. Remove veggies from the stove and mix the flax and water into the veggies in a bowl.
  • After your reboot include brown rice in your veggie stuffing mix
    Wash peppers and remove tops and seeds inside.
    Scoop veggies including sauce from pan into peppers.
    Drizzle olive oil over the top of the peppers to help make a crunchy crust.
    Bake for 40-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

VEGGIE LASAGNA is another delicious and hearty meal, but often laden with saturated fat and excess calories from dairy products. To make this recipe Reboot friendly you’ll want to eliminate many of the key ingredients including pasta and cheese.  Ingredient Swap:

  • In place of pasta you can use thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini. Kitchen tools like a mandoline will help make this process easy.
  • Place tomato sauce at the bottom of a baking dish (make your own or look for one in a jar that is free of citric acid and other preservatives). Layer eggplant and zucchini slices.
  • In place of cheese during your Reboot, you can use avocado for a thick and creamy addition. Scoop avocados into a bowl and mash well or place in a blender and blend until creamy. (after your Reboot, soft/silken tofu or cashew “cheese” works very well along with or in place of the avocado.)
  • Keep all the herbs and spices you typically find in lasagna and then add more! Basil, oregano, garlic and parsley work very well.
  • Saute your favorite veggies like mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion.
  • Spread avocado over eggplant and zucchini then top with veggie mix. Repeat this layering process ending with sliced eggplant and zucchini. Drizzle olive oil on top to make it crunchy. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
  •  Feel free to add whole wheat or rice noodles to your veggie lasagna after your Reboot.
  • You can also make raw veggie lasagna and keep the avocado spread cool by just using zucchini for the “noodles” with a mandoline. Skip the mushrooms and eggplant in your veggie mix since you won’t be cooking them but feel free to add in other veggies that taste great raw like jicama, cucumber, carrots and celery.


Even after your Reboot, these recipes are perfect for a meatless meal!

Now that you are a recipe makeover artist, have fun getting creative with your favorite dishes! We’d love to hear how you have turned your delicious dishes into even healthier meals.

Bon appetit,

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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