Rachel Paxton

Article Summary:

Low fat cooking is still possible with your favorite recipe using substitutions.

Low Fat Cooking: Converting Recipes

The fat content in recipes can be reduced in a variety of ways:

When buying hamburger, look for extra lean hamburger. This type has much less fat than regular hamburger. You can also substitute ground turkey for hamburger. Turkey has a slightly different taste, but it is good and generally costs less than hamburger. Ground turkey is generally very low in fat.

For chicken, white meat contains less fat than dark meat. Try to buy boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. These contain relatively little fat. Turkey can be substituted for chicken. Boneless turkey breast is cheaper than chicken breast, and it is a little lower in fat (although chicken breast is low in fat also).

Trim as much fat as possible from pork before you cook it. Turkey ham can be substituted for real ham. Turkey ham, of course, is really turkey. It really does taste like ham, though, and can be used wherever a recipe calls for ham. Some people can't tell the difference between the two. Turkey ham has very little fat compared to regular ham.

If you've never tried turkey bacon, you're missing out! Regular bacon is made entirely of fat, with no nutritional value whatsoever. Turkey bacon is not a pork product, it is made from turkey meat. Turkey bacon contains little fat (it is usually about 97 percent fat free). It still doesn't have a lot of nutritional value, but it is relatively low in fat and will give you a little protein. It tastes considerably different from regular bacon, but it is very good!

Tuna can be purchased packed in oil or water. Tuna packed in water contains almost no fat. Tuna packed in oil contains considerably more fat.

Lowfat cream of mushroom and chicken soups are now available at your grocery store. Check the labels to see which one is lowest in total fat grams per serving.

For the recipes that require milk, skim milk can be used without sacrificing flavor.

For recipes call for cheddar cheese, there are low-fat and non-fat varieties of cheddar cheese. The lowfat variety work well in these types of recipes. The nonfat cheeses usually do not melt very well and aren't great for cooking.

Lowfat or nonfat sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and mayonnaise can be used without sacrificing any flavor.

Butter can be eliminated from some recipes. When browning onions, hamburger, etc., you can spray your skillet with nonstick spray or use chicken or beef broth instead of butter to cook with. When baking, you can use reduced-calorie margarine instead of butter, but the texture will not always come out right. You've got to experiment a little. Nonfat margarines currently on the market do not bake well at all. Just remember...with baked goods, it's not always the calorie content per cookie or piece of cake, it's how many you eat! Remembering that has helped me maintain my weight better than any reduced calorie diet.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of the "What's for Dinner?" cookbook, a cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, and frugal living, visit Creative Homemaking at www.creative homemaking.com.

Read all advice by Rachel Paxton; Find more Cooking experts

More advice on Cooking
» Eat Smart
» Low Fat Cooking: Converting Recipes
» all Cooking articles