1. Healthy Foods Don't Stay Fresh for Long

If y ou leave it on the counter and it doesn't go bad, it probably isn't good for you. Skip processed meats, which tend to be higher in saturated fats and sodium, and cutting back on cookies, crackers, and pastries that have additives and are made with saturated fats, added sugars, and preservatives.

2. Shop the Grocery Store's 'Perimeter' for Healthy Foods

Pick the leanest cuts of meat: "Choice" and "select" grades are better choices than "prime." In the dairy aisle, choose fat-free, 1 percent fat, or low-fat dairy products. Make fish a regular part of your healthy recipes; the American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish every week.

3. Fiber Is Important

Read the back label and make sure you are getting at least two to three grams of fiber per serving. As a rule of thumb, aim for at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your diet.

Another perk of label-reading? A recent study found that shoppers who read nutritional labels are up to nine pounds lighter than shoppers who do not.

4. Pick Products Without Added Salt

The average American consumes more than 3,000 milligrams of salt every day. That is 700 mg more than the upper limit recommended for most people. But most of that salt doesn't come from your saltshaker — it comes from processed foods. Read the label if the salt content per serving is higher than the calories per serving leave it on the shelf.

5. Use Herbs to Create Healthy Recipes

Fresh herbs can turn a recipe from ordinary to interesting by adding flavor and reducing the need for salt or sugar in your healthy cooking. Many herbs also contain good-for-you antioxidants. Grow your own herbs or buy them fresh or dried at the grocery store or farmers' market. Consider these pairings: Basil goes well with tomatoes. Chives are great on potatoes. Cilantro adds zest to many Mexican and Asian cuisines, and mint can be added to vegetables and salads for sweetness.

6. Choose Quality Over Quantity

The typical dinner plate today is 36 percent bigger than one from the 1960s? One of the best ways to enjoy a healthy recipe and not overload on calories is to reduce serving sizes. For example, the American Heart Association recommends just three ounces for a serving of meat — about the size of a deck of cards. Fill up the rest of your plate with vegetables for a quality, healthy meal.

7. Hunt Out Fats and Cholesterol

Trans fats are a big no-no, but there are also other fats to avoid, watch out for partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated fats as well. For healthy cooking, use vegetable oils. Remove the visible fats from your meats and the skin from poultry before cooking. Higher-cholesterol foods like liver, shellfish, and eggs are tasty and healthy choices — as long as you keep track of your cholesterol per serving. Egg whites contain plenty of egg protein without the cholesterol and can be substituted for whole eggs in many healthy recipes.

8. Don't Fill Up on Sugar

Indulging your sweet tooth doesn't have to mean consuming a lot of sugar. Adding sugar to your recipes just adds calories without any nutritional value. As with salt, fiber, and fats, you need to read the labels on any packaged foods you buy. Names of added sugars to look out for are glucose, maltose, fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, honey, and concentrated fruit juice.

9. Choose Healthy Protein Substitutes

A healthy foodie knows that you need a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, but proteins don't always need to come from meat. Other choices include fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, lentils, and soy.

10. Have Fun With Food

Part of the enjoyment of healthy food is being creative and expanding your food experience. Healthy recipes and healthy cooking can be fun and adventurous. Mix. Match. Experiment.