Nov 3, 2010

20 Recipe Makeover Ideas

1. Use low-fat and no-fat cooking methods such as steaming, poaching, stir-frying, broiling, grilling, baking and roasting as alternatives to frying.

2. Get a good-quality set of non-stick saucepans, skillets and baking pans so you can sauté and bake without adding fat.

3. Use nonstick vegetable sprays or 1-2 T defatted broth, water, or juice to replace cooking oil.

4. Be aware that fat-free and reduced-fat cheeses have slightly different cooking characteristics than their fattier counterparts (don’t tend to melt as smoothly). To overcome this, shred the cheeses finely. When making sauces and soups, toss the cheese with a small amt of flour, cornstarch or arrowroot.

5. Trim all visible fat from steaks, chops, roasts and other meat cuts before preparing them.

6. Replace one quarter to one half of ground meat or poultry in a casserole or meal sauce with cooked brown rice, bulgur, couscous, or cooked and chopped dried beans to skim the fat and add fiber.

7. Deciding to remove poultry skin before or after depends on your cooking method. Skin prevents roasted or baked cuts from drying out, and studies show that the skin’s fat doesn’t penetrate while cooking. However, if you leave the skin on, make sure any seasonings applied go under the skin, or flavor will be lost.

8. Skim and discard fat from soups and stews, or chill the soup or stew and skim the solid fat off the top.

9. Use pureed cooked vegetable such as carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower, to thicken soups and sauces instead of cream, egg yolks or butter/flour roux. Also use soft tofu to thicken sauces.

10. Select “healthier” fats when you need to add fat to a recipe. That means replacing butter, lard, or other highly saturated fats with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, corn, and other low in saturates. Remember, it takes just a few drops of a very flavorful oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil, dark sesame, walnut, or garlic oil, to really perk up a dish.

11. Skim the fat when you won’t miss it, but keep the characteristic flavor of fatty ingredients such as nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and bacon by reducing the quantity you use by 50%. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of walnuts, use ½ cup instead.

12. Toast nuts and spices to enhance their flavor and then chop them finely so they can be more fully distributed through the food.

13. If sugar is the primary sweetener in a fruit sauce, beverage, or other dish that is not baked, scale the amt down by 25%. Instead of 1 cup sugar, use ¾ cup. If you add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice, you’ll increase the perception of sweetness without adding calories.

14. In baked goods, add pureed fruit instead of fat. One of the reasons fat is included in baked products is to make them moist. The high concentration of natural sweetness in pureed fruit will actually help hold on to the moisture during the baking process. When making this substitution, switch equal amt of pureed fruit for same amt of fat. Use applesauce in bran muffins or cake, or even crushed pineapple.
a. Dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries or prunes, are best used in dark-colored batters. You can add lighter-colored fruits, such as pears or applesauce, to almost any batter without changing it’s color. Adding yellow-orange fruits, such as pureed peaches or apricots, can often add an appetizing yellowish crumb.
b. You can use pears or apples nearly universally in baking because their taste is mild and unnoticeable. Apricots, prunes, and pineapple add a much stronger flavor. Bananas and peaches are somewhere in the middle, adding a little flavor, but never overwhelming. Here’s a secret: if you don’t have a food processor to puree your own fruit, use baby food (already pureed, mild flavor, and usually without sugar.

15. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, for baked goods. This increases volume and tenderness.

16. Make a simple fat-free “frosting” for cakes or bar cookies by sprinkling tops with powered sugar.

17. Increase fiber content and nutritional value of dishes by using whole-wheat flours for at least half of the all-purpose white flours (don’t use bleached flour).

18. Vegetables can be fat-replacements:
a. Carrot puree, roasted red bell pepper puree, or mashed potatoes to your pasta sauce to replace the oil
b. Replace some fat in nut breads or cakes with vegetable purees or juices, such as carrot juice or pumpkin puree.
c. Substitute pureed green peas for half the amt of mashed avocado in guacamole or other dips.
d. Replace fat in soups, sauces, muffins or cakes with mashed yams/sweet potatoes.
e. Use white potatoes to thicken lower-fat milks in cream soups and bisques.
f. Substitute a layer of vegetables in lasagna to replace meat or sausage.
g. Top pizza with vegetables instead of meat.

19. Choose whole grains, instead of white breads and pastas. Whole grains allow the nutrients your body needs, while white or refined flours are generally stripped of nutritional value and bleached in a harsh preparation process. (The difference between being fed vs. nourished) Examples include: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Bulgur (cracked wheat), Millet, Oatmeal, Popcorn, Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers, Wild rice

20. Choose healthier meat options. Instead of regular hamburger, buy lean ground turkeyburger. Or use turkeyroni, turkey sausage or turkey bacon instead of their counterparts. Or opt for a vegetable burger.

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