Renovate your Recipes

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Renovate your recipes – tips for reducing the amount and improving the quality of fat

Kaye Foster-Powell
Kaye Foster-Powell

The problem with fat is the amount we eat, sometimes without realising it. Fat provides more calories per gram (9 cals or 37 kJ) than protein or carbs (4 cals per gram each), which is why fat is a good place to start when giving your recipes a healthy makeover. It’s not just the quantity you have to think about, it’s the quality – the type of fat can make a big difference to your health and waistline. It’s not too hard to give your favourite recipes a healthy renovation to reduce the amount or improve the quality of the fat. Here are dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell’s 3 simple steps to get you started.

French toast with grainy bread

1. Substitute.

  • Make that dessert or white sauce with reduced fat or skim milk instead of full cream milk, replace cream with low fat evaporated milk or yoghurt or buttermilk thickened with a little corn flour.
  • Try light sour cream or crème fraiche or low fat yoghurt or reduced fat ricotta instead of regular sour cream.
  • Use filo brushed with skim milk or water or even orange juice if it’s for a dessert instead of regular pastry,
  • Pick the skinless chicken fillets, the leanest mince, fat reduced sausages,
  • Use one of the good oils in your cooking instead of butter and a reduced fat cheese.

2. Reduce.

  • Cut back the quantity of meat, particularly if it’s a fattier cut like bacon or sausage (many recipes have way too much). For 4 people you need around 500 grams (1 lb 2 oz) meat or chicken – the bonus is the savings on the weekly housekeeping budget. Add extra vegetables or legumes to bulk out the recipe and boost the nutrition.
  • Go halves, too. Many recipes have a very heavy hand when it comes to cheese and the amount of oil. If a recipe asks for 1 cup of shredded cheese for that cheesy topping, a ½ cup extended with some low GI breadcrumbs or rolled oats or even wheatgerm will do the job just as well. And if it’s for a sauce, use less cheese but a sharper tasting one to deliver the flavour.
  • If you warm the frying pan a little first then you only need 1 tablespoon of oil to sauté those onions or leeks not 2 or 3 tablespoons. And measure your oil for cooking don’t tip and guess.
  • Try reducing the amount of margarine or butter in your baking and adding fruit puree or egg whites as a partial substitute.

3. Eliminate. Yes, leave it out altogether.

  • That means leaving out cream most of the time (see our substitute suggestions above).
  • It also means doing simple things like trimming the visible fat from meat or chicken before cooking or making soups and stews the day before, chilling them overnight and skimming the fat from the top before reheating and serving.
  • By using lighter and healthier cooking methods – grilling (broiling), roasting on a rack, steaming or barbecuing – you will naturally reduce the amount of fat (and calories) in a recipe.

Your easy guide to 100 low GI carbs
The January-February issue of Diabetic Living magazine (Australian edition, $7.95) comes with a booklet called: Your 100 Best Carbs for Healthy Low GI. Look for it in newsagents now.

Your 100 Best Carbs for Healthy Low GI