How can you cut calories when cooking? Do you have any simple tips and tricks?
With a knife, of course! --The diet and health claims that bombard us daily from the internet, coworkers and advertisements never fail to amaze me. Depending who you ask or what fad diet someone is following, you will hear a variety of different methods on how to cut back on calories. As for simple tips and tricks, my number one recommendation is simple--be mindful.
What are you using for fat?
Butter, shortening, olive oil, coconut oil etc. Because we have so many options it can be a chore just to figure out what to use. To decrease saturated fat (and calories) selecting a vegetable-based oil can be a great solution. Vegetable oils include olive, corn, canola, safflower and sunflower oils. Still want to use butter? Use half butter and half oil. Instead of coating pans with oil, try wiping with a towel to reduce the amount; you could also use a spray to reduce calories from oils. It never hurts to add less than called for when making packaged items such as macaroni and cheese or rice. Have you thought about simply pouring out any excess oil/fat that is produced when cooking such as the grease from bacon and taco meat? Steaming or boiling are both methods that would help to limit added calories.
When thinking about baked goods, not all recipes are created equal when it comes to trimming out fat. Cakes, brownies, baked breads and muffins can typically withstand a substitution of applesauce, mashed bananas or pumpkin puree for example. Try an open face/one crust pie. To add flavor, try nuts, seeds, or dried fruit.
What are you sweetening your foods with?
I will often cut back on the called for amount of sugar in many recipes. I can usually get away with reducing the sugar by up to ¼ cup. Could you skip the sugary toppings on the muffins or coffee cakes? How about using less frosting or filling? Keep in mind we do not need to use all of what a recipe calls for. Using spices can help replace flavor potentially lost by reducing higher calorie ingredients. Try nutmeg or cinnamon. Keep in mind that sweeteners like honey and maple syrup may be less processed options, however, are still pure sugar and unless you are using less, will still contribute similar calories.
What does the entire meal consist of?
Think about what your entire meal consists of, can you take a smaller portion of the higher calorie dish, can you fill half of your plate with veggies and fruits?
With health in mind: What do you have on hand? To keep it simple. Often, we get overwhelmed with recipe recommendations (especially if they are new to us). Thinking of easy ways to reduce the fat and sugar content can go a long way to reducing calories, without sacrificing the taste.