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Oct 6, 2009


When you’re trying to follow a lower-fat diet, learning a few flavor-boosting, fat-reducing cooking secrets makes it a whole lot easier. Of course, you can always substitute reduced-fat versions of foods for high-fat versions. But for an even greater flavor “bang for the buck,” try these “trade secrets” for making low-fat foods taste fabulous.

Flavor up salad dressings:
Sure, you can buy reduced-fat or fat-free dressings. But if you have a favorite full-fat dressing you love, try this tip for cutting the fat: Mix 1 part salad dressing to 1 part mild vinegar, such as cider vinegar or rice vinegar (the dressing will be slightly thinner and tangier). You can also use citrus juice instead of vinegar. Or, use bottled salad spritzers that have only 0.5g fat for 10 sprays.

Indulge in “fried food”:
Love the crispy texture of fried chicken or seafood, but hate the fat? Try oven-frying. First, coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Then, dip meat or seafood into beaten egg substitute or a mixture of beaten egg white and skim or evaporated skim milk. Next, dip the food in seasoned breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes or other cereal. Bake on the prepared baking sheet.

Go nutty:
Nuts are great flavor boosters, and they also have lots of heart-healthy fats. But even though they’re good for you, they still add to your total fat count for the day, so don’t use too much. Toasting them brings out their flavor, so you can use less.

Freshen up flavor:
One easy way to add flavor to foods prepared without fat is to add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time. Fresh herbs also add a burst of flavor to salads. Cut back on salad dressing and add chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano or mint to salads.

Use oils wisely:
Oils such as extra virgin olive oil or nut oils have lots of flavor, so you don’t need much. One of the easiest ways to get the flavor of the oils without the fat grams is to buy a spray bottle and fill it with the oil. Spritz steamed vegetables, pasta, etc. with the oil just before serving.

Add cheesy flavor:
Use a sharp cheese instead of mild and you won’t need nearly as much to get the same flavor intensity. Use a reduced-fat sharp cheese for an even bigger fat reduction.

Create marinade magic:
Marinades and spice rubs add bold flavor with zero or very little fat. You can find a variety of marinades and rubs at your grocery store. (Just remember that rubs may be high in salt or very spicy, so don’t overuse them.)

Eating healthy is about enjoyment, not deprivation. When you add flavor and reduce fat, you can enjoy the pleasure of a delicious meal and know that you are doing your health a favor at the same time.