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Donna and her mom cook old world style with new world ingredients

If you grew up with a classic Italian cook, you know about pride of ingredients. So Virtua dietitian Donna Wixted knew she had to tread lightly when she dared to make healthier versions of her mom’s old world recipes. “When I became a dietitian, I realized that just a few tweaks to my mom’s great recipes could make our meals healthier.”

No-guilt replacements

Donna’s goal to reduce sodium and fat would mean losing flavor. “If you take flavor away, you have to replace it,” explains Donna. “But by adding intense flavors of fresh herbs, spices, garlic and onions, you won’t miss the salt and fat.”

Kick salt and sugar – fast

Not convinced? “It only takes three days for your tastes to turn,” explains Donna. “After eliminating salt for that period, the next time you have a potato chip it will actually burn your lips, and the fat may bother your stomach. You can also manage sugar cravings by adding more fruit to your diet. Look for salad or fish recipes that use fruit to enhance flavors.” 

Embracing change

Donna’s mom approves of the healthy changes, and with one or two exceptions (like a little salt on a tomato), she’s giving the new world a spin.

Tradition: food, love and good health

“I was fortunate to grow up with a home-cooked meal on the table every night. I want to continue our Sunday meal tradition for many years, so I’m happy we’re all eating healthier.”

Easy food swaps

  • Replace sour cream with low fat Greek yogurt
  • Swap chips for fresh veggies
  • Use olive oil instead of butter
  • Replace oil with applesauce in a boxed cake mix
  • Try mashed avocado instead of mayo