Renovate your Recipes

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Low fat evaporated milks
When renovating recipes, one key aim is to reduce the amount (and improve the quality) of the fats and oils in your diet. This means that delectable ingredients like cream, butter, bacon, cheese and chocolate (that appear in large amounts in chef recipes these days) need to stay on the shelf and out of your shopping basket if you’re going to whip up anything approaching a hip-and-heart-friendly recipe.

It’s not all sacrifice. Cutting out cream doesn’t mean missing out on creamy sauces or creamy desserts. How come? Products like low fat evaporated milk, or just ‘Carnation’ as lots of us know it, is a good substitute for cream and full cream milk when cooking sweet and savoury dishes. It’s sometimes called ‘the cooking milk’ and it certainly adds body to soups, sauces and custards.

Evaporated low fat milk is made by heating milk to remove about 60% of the water. The processing doesn’t destroy the nutritional benefits of milk – it’s still a good source of calcium (around 30% recommended your daily intake per serve). We looked at the saturated fat savings with a couple of low fat Carnation brand products:

  • The Light & Creamy Evaporated Milk has 95% less fat than cream. It’s the one to use instead of cream in pasta sauces etc and for cutting back the fat in creamy desserts like cheesecakes.
  • The Light & Creamy Coconut Flavoured Evaporated Milk has an average of 92% less saturated fat than regular coconut milk (an average of all coconut milks on the market, including light coconut milk) and is a substitute for coconut milk in laksas and creamy Southeast Asian curries (see Diane’s Red beef and pumpkin curry recipe in this issue).

We asked the Nestle Australia Nutrition team for some tips on using evaporated milk in your cooking to get the best results.

  • Avoid boiling evaporated milk as it may split (curdle), it’s best to add at the end of cooking time and heat through.
  • To whip it to a thicker consistency, leave the can in the fridge overnight before whipping.
  • It’s OK if you don’t need to use a whole can in your recipe. It will keep in fridge for 2–3 days after opening.

Creamy Salmon and Dill Pasta
Photo courtesy Nestle Australia

If you haven’t used evaporated milk in your cooking before, it’s probably a good idea to check out some recipes on the manufacturers’ websites to give you an idea of how to get the best results. This Creamy Salmon and Dill main meal pasta recipe from the Nestle Australia website will be on the table in a bit over 20 minutes. It’s quite high in carbs, so if you need to watch your blood glucose levels, have a smaller serving. The recipe says serves 4 – but we think it will happily stretch to 6 with a big crispy garden salad tossed in a tangy vinaigrette dressing.

375 g (14 oz) fettucine
375 ml (14 oz) can Carnation Light & Creamy Evaporated Milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
grated rind 1/2 lemon
1½ tablespoons corn flour
½ cup grated zucchini (courgette)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
210 g (7 oz) can red salmon, drained and flaked

  • Cook pasta according to directions on pack until al dente, drain and keep warm. Place the evaporated milk, garlic, lemon rind, cornflour, zucchini and dill in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring. Stir in the salmon. Pour sauce over pasta, gently toss to combine and serve.

Per serving (based on 4 serves)
Energy: 2290 kJ/ 547 cals; Protein 31 g; Fat 9 g (includes 3 g saturated fat); Carbs 80 g; Fibre 3.5 g.