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Eating Healthier In The Kitchen

When I am not here at The Gym training clients, you will find me in my kitchen cooking and baking and jarring. In the summer months I spend hours in my vegetable garden. Us Italians are famous for our cooking and we value time spent in the kitchen with family and friends creating recipes that will be handed down for generations.

I believe in fresh, home made cooking even if I need to spend a few hours, especially on my days off, in the kitchens to prepare food for busy days ahead.

One rule I have, I will not modify or make healthy any of my family recipes. This is because they have been passed down generation to generation and every ingredient is part of the family history.

For recipes that do not have a special family meaning or any recipe that you want to modify and make healthier, what we can do to change up the ingredients without sacrificing the taste and texture.

With most recipes, especially if it is a baked good, you need to be careful and make changes one at a time. This means every time you make the recipes you change one ingredient to make sure that the recipe can handle the change.

I always start with cutting half of the sugar out, this will not affect the outcome of the recipe. If the recipe works well and tastes ok with half the sugar, the next time I make it I change the fat, use half butter, half apple sauce (yes applesauce). You can use olive oil or greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil or butter. Just always change out half the amount at a time, don’t swap the full fat amount all at once. Experiment with your recipes, involve your kids or spouse, have fun with it and food will taste so delicious when you have made it yourself.

When you are making savory recipes, always use fresh, local, in season (I love my garden in the summer) and clean ingredients. Always read the labels! When you see “fat free”, “sugar free”, “low fat”, “low sugar” there is often some ingredient or chemical added to replace the lost flavor.

Find farmers around where you live and shop at their farm stands. Many farms have CSA which is a community share in the farm. You pay annually up front to help support the farm and in return you get a “share” of the fruits and vegetables they grow which you can go and pick up each week.

Here are a handful of other ways you can decrease salt, fat and sugar to make your favorite recipes a little healthier.

  • Add spices, herbs lemon to your salad, soups, sandwiches to cut down on the salt

  • Olive and avocado oils are healthy to cook with

  • Use plain yogurt or greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and try add lemon juice or herbs to it

  • Bake, roast, broil, or grill instead of frying

  • Use whole wheat, oats, and almond flours for baking

  • Whole eggs, egg whites for omelettes and baking

  • Cook your chicken with the skin on then remove after. The skin will keep moisture in and give flavor to the meat.

  • Use your favorites full fat cheese to avoid additives and chemicals, but cut down the portion you use

Remember that good fats are excellent for you and should be eaten daily. Focus on portions and choose fats which are high in unsaturated fat.

Need a healthy salad dressing? Use good quality olive oil, balsamic, apple, or white wine vinegar, sea salt and your favorite herbs. Shake all together and you have delicious homemade Italian salad dressing in less than 5 minutes!

I have included a recipe I made when my kids were little. We found it in a school cookbook and over years I have slowly transformed it.

Have fun in the kitchen and buon appetito!



3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini

Beat eggs, gradually add sugar, Add oil and beat. Mix together dry ingredients and add to egg mixture in small amounts, alternating with grated zucchini. Add vanilla and mix. Pour into two greased loaf pans.

Bake at 350 for 55-55 minutes



3 eggs or 1 whole eggs with 1/2 cup egg whites

1 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil not EVOO)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cup of gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour

1 cup wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp vanilla

Recipe had 2 cups of grated zucchini but I use 3

Mix and cook same way as original recipe but watch the time if you put more zucchini, sometimes it takes longer to bake.


Maria D'Agostino

NASM-CPT, AFAA-PTC & PGEC, MADD DOG Spin Instructor, TRX Suspension Training Instructor

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