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DeFatting Your Recipes

Timeless Nutrition Tips...

To help you remember how to do this, there is what is known as the three R's you can memorize.

These are: Letter R




DeFatting Your Recipes

Remove Fat

Sometimes you can completely eliminate a fatty ingrediant without doing much harm to a recipe. For instance, sausage. If there are other flavors such as onions, spinach, mushrooms, garlic etc., there is a good chance you won't miss the offensive ingredient.

As you learn to make heart healthy choices at the supermarket, you also have to be knowledgeable about heart healthy cooking.

  • Bake, broil, roast, poach, steam or braise meat and poultry instead of frying to reduce fat.
  • If you make stews or soups that contain meat, chill them overnight and lift off the fat before you reheat and serve.
  • Steam vegetables without adding fat.
  • The microwave is excellent for fat free cooking.
  • Use nonstick cookware, a nonstick spray or saute foods in broth to cut out fat.
  • Season vegetables with herbs and spices instead of fatty sauces, butter or margarine.
  • Use vegetable oil in place of solid shortening, margarine and butter whenever possible.
  • Replace whole milk with low fat or fat free milk in puddings, soups and baked products as well as for cereal and drinking.
  • Cook meat or poultry on a rack so the fat will drain off. Use a nonstick pan or nonstick spray for cooking so added fat is unnecessary.

Replace Fat

If you cannot stand the thought of removing the sausage from a recipe, consider replacing it with turkey keilbasa. There are many good replacements for fatty products that do relatively little harm to a recipe. Learn what these are and try them out whenever you can.

  • Instead of a doughnut at 14g of fat, try a bagel at 2g of fat.
  • Instead of a pastry or danish coming in at 38g or more of fat, try hot cereal at only 2g fat.
  • Instead of a muffin (not low fat) that contains between 5 and 12g fat, try an English muffin containing only 1 to 2g fat.
  • Instead of a biscuit (2 ounces), which has 7g fat, try a corn tortilla for only 2g fat.
  • Instead of an ice cream bar (8 to 30g fat), have a frozen fruit bar at ZERO fat.
  • Instead of ice cream, coming in at 11g a serving for regular, have sherbert, no cream, for 3g fat per serving.
  • If you like REALLY rich ice cream (18g of fat per serving), try frozen low fat yogurt (3g fat per serving for most).

Going White is Bright

Egg whites contain no cholesterol; substitute two whites for each whole egg in recipes. The recommendation is no more than three egg yolks per week, and this includes eggs used in food preparation. Also try egg substitutes as a convenient, low cholesterol alternative to whole eggs.

Reduce Fat

Neither of those suggestions good enough? Then consider reducing the amount of a fatty ingredient such as sausage. For instance, if you make Hamburger Helper, use one-half a pound of meat as opposed to an entire pound. It is just as good. You won't miss the extra meat. Another way to reduce is to go to light versions of things if the non-fat doesn't appeal to you. For example, many people cannot stand fat free mayo - me included - so get the light instead. It isn't nearly as horrible as the non fat.

Change Your Oil

Use mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Canola was thought to be a good oil, but there is now some controversy over the process used to make it. There is an ingrediant used called "rapeseed" from Canada that some are saying can cause many adverse reactions, including cancer.

Choose liquid vegetable oils that are highest in unsaturated fat. They are available in a number of forms such as: canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, olive, sesame and soybean oils.

For general baking and cooking usage, you need not buy the extra light. That is misleading. It has just as much fat in it as regular olive oil. The extra light or virgin, as it is often called, merely means a change in the flavor of the olive oil; something may do not want.

Watch food labels for saturated fats, too. Try to avoid them whenever you can.

Use Less Sugar in Recipes

Americans are now eating more sugar than ever. Cutting back on your sugar intake is a good idea for anyone. It would also mean less calories. According to a recent nationwide study done by the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans are eating an average of twenty teaspoons of sugar a day. The bulk of this sugar is coming from soft drinks, baked goods, candy, and frozen milk desserts.

The USDA recommends that not more than 6 to 10 percent of your daily caloric intake be from sugar. That is the equivalent of about nine teaspoons.

Try Salads

Salads are an enjoyable way to add a variety of vegetables and textures to your diet. If you had previously been a big meat eater and are now trying to reduce your intake of meats, salads can be a filling and tasty complement to any meal. Remember though, to choose a low or non fat salad dressing so you don't erase all the good you are doing by eating more "Greens".

Switch to Whole Grains

Whole grainswould include brown rice instead of white, and whole wheat flour in recipes whenever possible. You can incorporate this easily into your recipes without harming flavor by dividing the amount of flour in any recipe and using half whole wheat and half white. Whole grains have more nutrients, more fiber and more beta carotene, all good stuff!

Add Flaxseed

What is flaxseed? Flaxseed is a rich source of antioxidants which protect healthy cells. It is also an excellent source of fiber.

Now, what to do with it, right? You can add it to muffins, (low fat, please), stews, smoothies, shakes, breads and hot cereal. When adding it to muffins, decrease the all purpose flour by 1/4 cup and replace that 1/4 cup with the flaxseed. You can use a similar approach with bread recipes. For stews, soups and hot cereals, use a good sprinkling of flaxseed. In smoothies, add about one to two tablespoons before blending.

Add Fruit and Vegetables

By adding fruits and vegetables to your recipes you'll increase nutrients, fiber and betacarotene. Muffins are an excellent way to incorporate fruits.

Pasta dishes are good for adding vegetables to. Some powerhouse fruits and vegetables to try incorporating into your recipes are cantaloupes, bananas, winter squash, oranges, grapes, berries of all kinds, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, brussel sprouts, chard, spinach and tomatoes.


Whenever you prepare a dish you think you can add beans to, either in the recipe itself or as a side dish, do so. Beans add fiber and beta carotene plus there are a lot of choices with beans that are tasty and convenient. Canned and frozen beans are equally as good for you as fresh.

Look for fish recipes.

Not fried! Fish has omega-3 fatty acids which are very healthy. Salmon is the richest in omega-3 of all fish.

Use lean meat.

This is imperative. Look for the word "lean" on all the meat you buy. Leaner meats include chicken and turkey breasts, pork tenderloin, ground sirloin, center cut pork loin and extra lean ham. Try to limit servings to three to four ounces. Occasionally, try some vegetarian recipes. You may learn to like some and would be doing yourself a huge favor.

Don't follow directions.

When using cake mixes or macaroni and cheese mixes, disregard the directions. If there is butter, use less or replace some of it with light or non fat sour cream. For cake mixes, in place of oil, you can use liqueur, sherry, fruit juice, pureed fruit or crushed pineapple and fat free sour cream can be used as a substitute in brownie mixes. You can also divide the amount of oil, using half oil and half unsweetened applesauce. You could replace all the oil with applesauce and many do, but I find this tampers with the consistency a bit too much. Just cutting the amount in half removes a lot of fat yet keeps the texture appetizing. Your body does need some fat, so it's okay to use some here and there. Just keep in mind the word "moderation", in addition to using the healthier fats, such as olive oil.

Menu Makeovers

A simple recipe makeover can turn you high-fat, high-calorie foods into many healthier, guilt-free meals.

  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of cream.
  • Saute with olive oil instead of margarine or butter.
  • Replace one-third of the white rice, pasta and flour with their whole grain counterparts.
  • Add black beans to chili, chopped carrots to meat loaf, barley to beef stew, and raisins or nuts to banana bread.
  • Instead of a whole plate of macaroni and cheese or a full bowl of beef stew, dish up about one-third that amount and add a green salad or steamed vegetables.
  • If you crave a cheeseburger, go ahead, but eat it in modest portions and only once in a while as a treat.

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research


Low-Calorie, Lower Fat Alternatives (PDF). Save it, print it, use it!