How to Cook with Less Fat

In these health-conscious times, many people try to follow a low-fat diet. All diets need some fat, but it’s important to choose healthy fats and to moderate how much of them you consume. Use these easy tips to reduce the amount of fat in your cooking and prepare healthier meals.

How to Cook With Less Fat

You can halve the quantity of oil, butter or margarine in most meat, poultry, fish and vegetable recipes without affecting the way the recipe works, although some richness of flavour will be lost.

Trim off all visible fat from meat and poultry before cooking.

If the meat is cooked in a sauce or gravy, you can prepare the dish a day ahead, chill it overnight, then remove visible fat from the surface before reheating the dish.

Cook meats and fish in olive oil or vegetable oil rather than in butter. Before grilling (broiling) or roasting meat, lightly brush or spray both the meat and the grill pan or roasting pan with oil. Brush or spray the meat again as needed during cooking, rather than basting it with fat.

Remove the skin from chicken before serving – but don’t remove the skin before cooking, unless the recipe says otherwise, as the skin keeps the flesh moist. Have some well-reduced chicken stock on hand and brush a little onto the skinned chicken just before serving to give it an appetising gloss and colour.

You can also reduce the amount of fat in most soup recipes by half. In cream soups, substitute low-fat milk for whole milk and cream. Again, some richness of flavour will be lost, but the recipes will still work. A sprinkle of chopped herbs, or a spoonful of low-fat evaporated milk swirled through the soup at the last moment, will give added interest and flavour.

Cake and biscuit (cookie) recipes should also not be modified, as the ratio of fat to other ingredients is crucial to the texture and to the way the mixture sets when cooked. Scones, breads, pancakes and muffins have very little fat, but be careful what you spread on them – instead of butter, try spreadable, light cream cheese. Use a non-stick frying pan for pancakes and pikelets, and rather than heating fat in the pan to grease it, brush it very lightly with oil or melted butter, or spray with cooking spray.

Dessert recipes that involve flour mixtures (such as pastry, dumplings, steamed and boiled puddings) should not be modified as they may not turn out successfully. Instead, stick to desserts that have little or no fat, such as fruit, water ices, jellies and low-fat mousses. Use low-fat ice-cream or chilled, whipped, low-fat evaporated milk, or make custard using low-fat milk. Low-fat yogurt topped with berries makes a good dessert.

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