We all understand the unhealthy menaces of fat-laden and fried foods. Whether striving to cut fat to fight flab or trying to approach a low-fat diet for better heart and general health, the benefits of reducing the amount of fat in our diets is well appreciated and widely accepted.
However, interestingly, when it comes to going low on fat, most of us either equate low fat cooking to bland, tasteless and boiled foods, or switching to soups and salads for meals. But it need not be so. With a littler planning and a few meal ideas, we can easily dish out nutritious and tasty low fat meals of ourselves.
Be a Smart Shopper: The first step towards healthy cooking is keeping low-fat and healthier ingredients handy.
• Fill your shopping cart with whole grains, beans, seasonal vegetables, fresh fruits and low-fat milk and milk products. Base your meal preparation on these ingredients and you shall have no difficulty in cooking up a low-fat healthy meal.
• Buy vegetables with longer shelf life like carrots, potatoes and onions, which can from the basis of soups or stocks and you don’t have to rely on adding cream for consistency.
• Read labels carefully and watch out for serving sizes, total calories, fat and sodium content and percentage of saturated and trans fats.
• Ensure that the meals are made more often with fresh and unprocessed foods and less out of cans and jars.
Adopt Low-Fat Cooking Methods: The next step is to give a healthy makeover to our cooking style and cooking wares.
• Steaming, broiling, grilling, sautéing and poaching are considered to be the ideal cooking methods to create low fat meals. As a thumb rule, slow cooking for a prolonged duration is a healthier way of cooking.
• Cooking in a microwave or steaming vegetables before stir-frying them in littler oil is a good idea as they need less fat usage.
• Reduce the fat content of a meal by stir frying the vegetables on high flame for first few seconds and then let them cook covered in their own moisture or juices.
• If needed, use vegetables broth or stock instead of oil. Alternatively, you may also try coating the non-stick ware lightly with oil spray before throwing the veggies in.
• Spraying a little amount of oil on meats or vegetables before adding them to the work or skillet reduces the amount of oil absorbed by the food. You may, however, be needed to stir constantly and cook on a low flame to prevent browning or sticking.
Learn To Swap the Ingredients: Instead of preparing meals without any fat, try using lower fat alternatives.
• Replace whole milk with low-fat or skim milk, cream with yoghurt, mayonnaise with salsa or mustard sauce, and white sauce with homemade cottage cheese. Go lean on red meats, use egg whites over whole egg and eat fish at least twice a week.
• Pump up the fiber in the diet by adding sprouts to vegetable dishes and switching to whole grains like brown rice, oats, millets, barley and whole wheat pastas.
• Avoid the temptation to add spoons of ghee on you chapatis or paranthas. Instead, start kneading the dough with thin buttermilk or whey water. This will make the chapatis soft, richer in nutrients and devoid of extra calories.
Choose Healthier Cooking Medium:
• Use olive oil, canola or rice bran oil for cooking as they are rich in mono unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin E.
• If you are not comfortable cooking with olive oil, you may try masking its flavor by adding garlic and mehti seeds. Add ginger shreds, vinegar or lime juice when using olive oil as salad dressing.
Choose Low-Fat Salad Dressings:
• Salads are usually low in fat and calories but when we add calorie dense dressings such as mayonnaise, cream or Thousand Island dressing, the fat content increases by 25-30 per cent. Be innovative and experiment with balsamic vinegar, fruit juices, buttermilk, sesame oil-lime juice vinaigrette and honey mustard to flavor salads.
Use Herbs Generously:
• Lower fat versions of our favorite recipes need not be boring. Use fresh herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, tossed nuts (almonds and peanuts) as healthy garnishes to add flavor to fat stripped recipe modifications.
• Add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron and nutmeg to your desserts and use chopped fruits, honey or raisins to baked foods to give the impression of sweetness.
A little effort and creativity can easily aid in creating healthier meals that appeal to both our taste buds and waistlines alike.