Finding Healthy Recipes Online

By Pack, Thomas | Information Today, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Finding Healthy Recipes Online


Pack, Thomas, Information Today


You probably know that the Mayo Clinic is one of the world's leading healthcare organizations, but it might not be the first place you'd go for a recipe for paella with chicken, leeks, and tarragon.

Maybe it should be. MayoClinic.com offers enough free, healthy recipes to fill a couple of cookbooks. And it's just one of many Web sites that offer reliable guidance for those interested in preparing nutritious food.

If eating healthy was one of your New Year's resolutions and you've had trouble sticking to it, these sites could help you get back on track. And even if you've enjoyed healthy eating for several years, they could help expand your recipe file and nutrition knowledge--but not your waistline.

Food Makeovers

To access MayoClinic.com's extensive collection of healthy-eating information, go to the site's home page, select the Healthy Living area, and click the Food and Nutrition link. You then can browse or search the Recipe File for healthy meals that are quick and easy to prepare. Besides recipes, you also get shopping lists, nutrition analyses, menu suggestions, health facts, gourmet tips, and suggestions on how to make meals kid-friendly. You can even customize recipes to make two, four, or six servings.

You can also access a collection of recipe makeovers from Mayo Clinic's registered dietitians. They've taken traditional dishes and made them healthier by reducing the calories, fat, and salt, but not the taste. The recipe for paella with leeks and tarragon, for example, uses less olive oil than the traditional dish and substitutes chicken for chorizo, but you still get an appetizing entree.

And recipes are just the tip of the ice sculpture on the buffet table of food and nutrition information available at the site. Other features include basic nutrition guidelines; a slide show on healthy serving sizes; and information on cookbooks, weight control, food safety, cooking techniques, herbs, vitamins, and minerals.

Another section focuses on shopping strategies and explains how to make sense of food labels. You can learn, for instance, what "fat free" and "lite" really mean; get a guide to calculating fat content; and, if you read the related articles, find out how much fat your diet should include. ("If a low-fat diet is good, is an even lower-fat diet better? Not necessarily," according to the site. "You shouldn't look at fat alone. Fat needs to be considered in the total picture of healthy eating and living.")

Another useful section on MayoClinic.com is called My Health Interests. (It's not part of the Food and Nutrition area, so select it from the home page.) If you register through My Health Interests, you get free access to interactive health tools and can create a personal page that automatically updates with the type of content you want.

A Nutrition Navigator

You can find links to many more sites that offer nutrition guidance if you visit the Tufts University Nutrition Navigator (http://navigator.tufts.edu). According to an online note, the site is "the first online rating and review guide that solves the two major problems Web users have when seeking nutrition information: how to quickly find information best-suited to their needs and whether to trust the information they find there. The Tufts University Nutrition Navigator is designed to help you sort through the large volume of nutrition information on the Internet and find accurate, useful nutrition information you can trust."

Two registered dietitians from Tufts review the Navigator sites and apply rating and evaluation criteria that have been developed by a panel of U.S. and Canadian nutrition experts. The reviews are updated quarterly "to ensure that ratings take into account the ever-changing Internet and nutrition environments."

The Navigator is divided into several sections, including reviews of nutrition sites for men, women, families, seniors, health professionals, educators, and journalists, but there is considerable overlap between the categories. …

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