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Recipe Makeover: Reducing the Fat in
the Kitchen
Looking for ways to limit your fat intake? Good news! Reducing the fat doesn’t mean reducing the
flavour. Whether it’s a family favourite or a brand new recipe, consider some of these recipe “make over”
ideas for a healthier you.
Reducing the fat is a healthy choice
Fat is an important part of a healthy diet. It gives you energy, helps your body absorb some vitamins and
adds flavour and texture to all types of foods. At the same time, fat is high in calories and depending on
the type of fat, not good for your heart. Include fat in moderation and choose better types of fat that will
contribute to your health.
Not all fats are created equal
While all fats offer the same amount of calories, some fats are better for you than others. Unsaturated
fats are healthier fats. These are the fats that you can ‘see through’, like olive oil, canola oil, sunflower
oil and other vegetable oils. Saturated fats are the less healthy fats. These are the fats that are solid,
like lard, hydrogenated hard margarines, shortenings and butter. Canada’s Food Guide recommends
including a small amount (2 to 3 tablespoons) of unsaturated fat each day. This includes the fats we get
from cooking and baking.
Reducing the fat doesn’t mean reducing the flavour
When cooking or baking, you can usually use a lower-fat version of the ingredient the recipe calls
for. Some fat is needed for taste, so don’t remove all the fat from the recipe. See some suggestions
below for easy and tasty substitutions:
Updated: 2017-04-13 | Page 1 of 3
When Baking:
When a recipe calls for… Try this instead…
Butter, margarine,
Replace up to ½ the fat in muffins, quick breads, cookies and cakes with mashed fruit or vegetables, like
shortening or oil
unsweetened applesauce, pureed pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, pureed prunes or mashed bananas.
Replace up to ¾ of the fat in yeast breads with partly-skimmed ricotta cheese or low fat cottage cheese.
Butter a baking dish or pan Use parchment paper or silicon baking mats or pans.
to prevent sticking
If you use a cooking spray, use a small amount on a paper towel to grease the pan.
Full fat cream cheese
Use fat-free or low-fat cream cheese, cottage cheese or partly-skimmed ricotta cheese pureed until
Full-fat sour cream
Use fat-free or low-fat sour cream, part-skim ricotta or fat-free plain yogurt.
Full fat milks
Choose 2% M.F. or less.
Substitute with unsweetened soy and rice beverages, 100% fruit juices or water.
When Cooking:
When a recipe calls for…
Try this instead…
Cream for cream soups
Thicken soups using pureed potatoes, carrots, lentils or tofu.
Oil-based marinades
Reduce oil by up to ½ and increase other ingredients like balsamic vinegar, 100% fruit juice or
low-sodium broth.
Oil in sautéing
Use beer or wine instead (3 Tbsp of beer or wine for every 1 Tbsp of butter).
Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broths.
Pan or deep frying
Try baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, poaching, sautéing or stir-frying cooking methods.
Updated: 2017-04-13 | Page 2 of 3
Butter or oil on cooked vegetables Season vegetables with lemon juice, herbs or vinegar.
Oil and pan drippings for basting,
Substitute 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice or low-sodium vegetable broth.
Cheeses (hard and soft)
Choose lower-fat cheeses with 20% M.F. or less.
Limit the amount of cheese used – a little is all you need for flavour.
Full-fat sour cream
Use mashed beans (white, black, kidney, chickpeas) instead of sour cream in dips.
Recipes that reduce the fat
Try some of the lower fat substitutions in these great tasting recipes:
Whole Wheat Orange Ginger Scones
Sweet Chili Tofu Stir-Fry
Soft Oatmeal Raisin Delights
Emily’s Zippy dip – 1st place Winner of Eat Right Ontario’s Kids Recipe Challenge!
Spicy Orange Chicken, Dietitians of Canada
For lower fat baked goods perfect for a bake sale, see Bake it Up! by the Nutrition Resource Centre.
You may also be interested in:
Recipe Makeover: Reducing Sugar in the Kitchen
Recipe Makeover: Reducing sodium in the kitchen
This content from is Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2015, unless otherwise indicated.
The content is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or counselling from a Registered Dietitian.
It is intended for educational purposes only. Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight
Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the province.
Updated: 2017-04-13 | Page 3 of 3