MY RECIPE PHILOSOPHY

I should be up front about something: I can be quite the health nut.

Growing up in Georgia, this trait frequently made me an outcast. Indeed, I almost caused a walk-out at my parents' house during Thanksgiving dinner the year my mom made her famous potato salad with low-fat mayonnaise. All I can say is, I didn't ask her to make it with low-fat mayo...but who am I to stop her from following my lead in taking better care of herself?

In the years since, with encouragement from my siblings (who I think have finally forgiven me for the potato salad incident) and myself, my mom has also joined a gym and switched from making white rice for dinner to making brown rice. I'm thankful for that. Plus, my dad says he is thinking of joining her at the gym as well.

In southern California, of course, I'm in better company when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. It's not all salads and sunshine out here, but it is considerably easier to find yummy, low-calorie foods and specialty ingredients that can add flavor without adding unnecessary fat and calories. I also applaud the recent California menu labeling law, which helps diners make more informed choices when eating out.

That said, that means many of the recipes on saagAHH will be tweaked to be a little healthier than they would be in their traditional form. Here are some of my common substitutions:

> whole grain/whole wheat for refined grains/wheat
> low sodium for full sodium
> low fat/low calorie for full fat/full calorie
> less meat and more veggies in any given dish
> baking, grilling, etc. instead of frying

None of my substitutions are hard and fast rules. I've found that all I have to do to get myself to desperately crave a food is to tell myself that I can't eat it. So, I will occasionally eat something that's battered, deep fried, then served with a 2,000-calorie dipping sauce. And I won't feel guilty about it either.

But by and large, you can expect to find everyday healthy recipes on this blog. And I'm always appreciative of ways to make them healthier, so feel free to leave your suggestions on any posts.

I should also forewarn you that my recipe names will be pretty long-winded. I plan on continuing to tweak the recipes I post -- based on reader comments and on my own instincts -- so I may well post a variation of a recipe a few months after the original, which means I'll need to give it a new and different long-winded name. Plus, I'll try to include the main ingredients in the headline. I hate it when I find a recipe whose title sounds good, only to find out that it includes an ingredient I don't like (hello, salmon recipes that sneak in capers).

Happy eating!

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