Turn High-Fat Recipes Into Low-Fat Dishes

Most of us know we should eat less fat and cholesterol, yet changing eating habits that have developed over a lifetime is tough. It's difficult to be satisfied with poached salmon if you've grown up eating fried chicken. 

Fortunately, there are ways to eat a healthy diet and still enjoy your favorite foods. The secret? Prepare the foods differently.

Substitute lower-fat ingredients and preparation methods for traditional higher-fat ones. With a little experimentation, you'll find there is little difference in taste between the original dishes and your modified lighter ones. 

Cutting fat from your diet

Nutrition experts offer the following tips for cutting the fat from your diet: 

  • Use nonstick cookware, baking pans, and casserole dishes to eliminate or reduce the need for added fats, such as cooking oils. 

  • Substitute nonfat butter sprinkles or powder for butter or margarine. 

  • Make defatted stock for soups, sauces, and gravies. Refrigerate stock overnight, then skim the congealed fat off the top. 

  • Instead of sautéing meat and vegetables in oil, braise in defatted poultry or vegetable stock. 

  • Use no-cholesterol egg substitute or egg whites instead of whole eggs (substitute two egg whites for each whole egg). 

  • Replace regular salad dressing and bottled sauces with nonoil, fat-free versions. 

  • Substitute pureed fruit or applesauce for half the oil called for in baked goods. 

  • Instead of deep-frying foods, bake or broil them on a nonstick cookie sheet. 

  • Reduce the salt in recipes. To compensate, add more fresh and dried herbs or lemon juice.

Converting meat dishes

Make these changes in your favorite meat recipes: 

  • Substitute chicken and turkey breast cutlets in recipes that call for thinly sliced veal, beef, pork, or lamb. 

  • Substitute turkey thigh meat in stews, stroganoff, and other recipes in which beef or a heavier meat seems appropriate. 

  • Substitute lean ground turkey or chicken (without fat or skin added) for ground beef. 

  • Substitute these turkey products for their red meat counterparts: turkey pastrami, turkey sausage (with no fat or skin added), turkey ham, and turkey bacon.

Lightening up dairy ingredients

Make these lower-fat substitutions for dairy ingredients: 

  • Use skim milk or low-fat milk instead of whole milk.  

  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of light cream. Instead of heavy cream, use evaporated skim milk mixed with nonfat powdered milk. 

  • Instead of whole milk ricotta cheese, use dry-curd cottage cheese, 1 percent cottage cheese or fully skim ricotta cheese.

  • Substitute nonfat yogurt for whole milk yogurt. 

  • In place of cream cheese, use low-fat or fat-free cream cheese. An alternative is to make yogurt cheese. To make yogurt cheese, place a container of nonfat, plain yogurt in a strainer lined with paper towels. Set strainer over a bowl and refrigerate overnight. 

  • Instead of using high-fat cheeses, try fat-free or skim-milk cheese products. 

  • Substitute nonfat frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet for ice cream. 

  • Use low- or no-fat sour cream instead of regular sour cream.

If these ideas seem overwhelming, just try one or two to start. Keep in mind that even one healthy diet change can make a positive difference in your health.