Innovations in Home Cooking

It’s time to think about how you can add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your day while watching your refined carbohydrate and sugar intake.

Try one or two of these ideas this week, and see how easy it can be!

Vegetables and fruits

  • Add fresh or dried fruits, like chopped apples, raisins, prunes, kiwi, or orange sections, to green, leafy salads.
  • Add chopped carrots, broccoli, or a mix of your favorite vegetables to soups, salads, meat loaf, and casseroles.
  • Make stir-fries or casseroles with lots of vegetables mixed in.

Beans and peas

  • Add your favorite canned beans to soups, stews, and salads.
  • Season beans with onion, garlic, and herbs for added flavor.
  • Try different bean dishes: Split pea soup, vegetarian chili with kidney beans or white bean chili, black beans over rice, bean tostados and tacos, black-eyed peas with garlic and red pepper, or three-bean salad made with green beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans.


  • Substitute whole wheat flour for half (or more) of the white flour called for in a recipe.
  • Add ¼ cup of bran or quick-cooking oatmeal to your meat loaf or casserole.
  • Make muffins using oatmeal, bran, or whole-wheat flour.
  • Try whole wheat pasta for a healthy fiber boost.
  • Use whole cornmeal when making cornbread.

Milk, cheese, and yogurt

  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of whole milk or cream in baked goods, sauces, and soups.
  • Use reduced-fat yogurt to replace all or part of the sour cream or mayonnaise in a recipe.
  • Replace part of the ricotta cheese in a recipe with reduced-fat cottage cheese.
  • Use a puree of cooked potatoes, onion, and celery as a creamy base for soups instead of dairy cream or half-and-half.
  • Sharp cheese gives extra flavor, so less can be used. This helps trim the calories and fat.
  • Select yogurt or milk products without added sugar or flavorings. Mix in fresh fruit for a flavor boost.

Meats, poultry, and fish

  • Let vegetables, beans, and other grain foods like whole wheat pasta and brown rice be the stars of your main dishes – use meats as the side dish.
  • Limit or avoid processed and red meat consumption. Instead, choose lean protein sources like poultry, fish, beans, or tofu.
  • Cook poultry with the skin on to keep it moist, but remove skin before eating to reduce the fat.
  • If you choose to eat red meat, choose lean cuts – look for the words “loin” or “round” in the name. Trim meat of all visible fat before cooking.
  • Choose canned fish packed in water. Drain thoroughly before mixing with your favorite dressing or condiment.
  • To reduce calories, use low-fat cooking methods, such as roasting, baking, broiling, steaming, or poaching. Limit deep-fat frying and don’t sauté foods in a lot of oil or butter. Use a cooking spray, broth, water, or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan to sauté meats.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: June 9, 2020

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