This week, we continue our celebration of Nutrition Month with a very special guide to cooking light. These are the 10 very best tips to lighten cooking based on our years of experience modifying many recipes. Which tip is your favorite? Which will you try? Pictured above are low-fat egg rolls.
1. Keep it low in fat. Measure your cooking oils, don’t just pour them freely. Oils are VERY calorie dense. Use a nonstick skillet to further reduce the fat you use. Remember, "oven frying" is always an option: lightly spray a food with cooking oil spray and bake at a higher temperature to cook and crisp a product at the same time.
2. Go very light on the cheese. Opt for small amounts of flavorful cheeses like Parmesan or Romano. Use fat-free ricotta in place of regular ricotta cheese.
3. Stick to small amounts of lean meat. Switch out high-fat items like sausage or ground meat with low-fat alternatives like ground turkey. Fish, seafood, and white meat poultry without skin are all healthful choices.
5. Choose whole grains. Choose whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of their refined counterparts. After all, whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients.
6. Make a low-fat salad. Salad fills you up without a lot of calories, especially when the salad is also low in fat. One study found that eating a large, low-fat salad before a meal helps people consume fewer calories during the rest of the meal.
7. Use broth instead of cream. Broth makes an excellent sauce for pasta. Add basil, thyme, and rosemary for more flavor.
8. Go easy on the bread. Bread is calorie dense and it is easy to eat too much of it. Offer small rolls instead of whole loaves of bread at dinner. When you make sandwiches, use just one slice of bread instead of two.
9. Serve fruit for dessert. Instead of baking calorie-laden treats and keeping them around the house, offer fresh fruit for dessert and snacks.
10. Exercise pasta portion control For small pasta like elbow macaroni, shells, spirals, wagon wheels, penne, bowties, etc, 2 ounces of uncooked pasta is equivalent to 1/2 cup dry pasta and just over 1/2 cup cooked pasta. For long pastas, such as spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, linguine, etc, 2 ounces of uncooked pasta equals a 1/2 inch bunch of dry pasta and 1 cup of cooked pasta.
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Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.