That’s where H-E-B’s latest cookbook, “My Texas Table: 100 Family Favorites Done Light” (H-E-B, $12.49), comes in handy. The cookbook features dozens of recipes, including French toast, Texas chili, a beefy Guisado and Ooey Gooey Red Velvet Butter Brownies, all remade by dietitians to have lower calories without featuring less flavor.
“Our goal with ‘My Texas Table’ is to inspire our customers to cook healthy at home by providing a guidebook tailored not just to our stores, but to their tastes. These are their recipes, their family favorites,” said Kate Rogers, vice president of communications and engagement at H-E-B. “As a culture, we have become too reliant on convenience food eaten outside the home. We need to get back to the basics of cooking and eating as a family, not just for our health but for our happiness.”
It’s a lofty goal, and one that the book addresses head on. The paperback volume begins with tips for cooking for healthfully, including oven baking and steaming instead of frying, before going to offer ideas on how to reduce sugar or increasing fiber in foods.
The recipes themselves are lighter versions of ideas submitted by both H-E-B employees and customers, each of whom is given credit, while a paragraph explains what was done to lighten it up or why it’s considered healthful. Consider this comment about the Pizza Margherita: “Pizza often gets relegated to the junk food category. Done right, however, it can be nutritious and tasty. Simply use whole wheat crust, low-fat cheese and lots of fresh basil to enjoy America’s favorite Italian pie guilt-free.”
But even the best intentions from the H-E-B dietitians, who compiled the book, can go somewhat awry, if you don’t pay close attention.
The recipe for the Asian Shrimp Stir-Fry suggests you should serve it over brown rice or buckwheat noodles. Yet the photo shows plenty of white pasta tossed with the shrimp, edamame and red peppers. Beware, that pasta is not included in the nutritional analysis and if you add it to the recipe, you could be adding 40 grams of carbohydrate to the dish, about double the daily allotment for many diabetics.
For the South Texas Oatmeal Cookies, margarine is used instead of butter, but there’s a continuing debate in the medical community over whether that’s a wise choice or not. The end result might mean fewer calories, but that’s not the only yardstick that a recipe’s healthfulness is measured by. Even Weight Watchers has changed its formula to include healthful fats from olive oil, nuts and avocado, among other items, and to restrict carb counts as much as watching calories.
But that’s where you come into the picture. Recipes are only guidelines, after all. These will get you started, and the rest is up to you. When you’re making the Spicy Bean Burgers, you can wrap them in lettuce leaves instead of carb-heavy bread or leave out the pie crust on the Very Berry Pie with a Twist. Or you could cut the sugar in the Skinny Scones by using chopped nuts instead of dried cranberries, which are almost always coated in sugar.
Making such decisions will help you take greater control over your diet and will hopefully give you greater discipline about what you eat. “My Texas Table” is a good place to start.
“My Texas Table” is available at H-E-B stores. Customers can sign up for this year’s Ready, Set, Cook! challenge through May 26 to try a new healthful recipe each week and for a change to win prizes.