Monday, September 29, 2008

Changing Up Recipes

It’s important when calorie counting, not to get discouraged because you think you can no longer eat the high fat or high calorie foods you’ve enjoyed in the past. The truth is, if you know much about cooking, you can lighten up just about anything. There are so many low fat, low calorie versions of staples now that it’s easy to substitute a number of items without truly compromising the flavor.

Here’s an example. I just came across a casserole recipe in called “Heavenly Potatoes and Ham.” It looks good and has received rave reviews from cooks who’ve tried it. But it’s more than 500 calories per serving. It contains a good amount of sour cream, butter, and cheese as well as a can of cream of chicken soup. The good news is that almost all of these ingredients can be modified to make this dish less heavy with fat and calories. I try not to go ‘no fat’ on most things because I think a little fat is good for successful cooking not to mention flavor, but there is some very good lite sour cream and lite butter on the market today. Low fat cheddar cheese is quite good and even cream of chicken soup now comes in a healthier low fat version. Making these adjustments should have little effect on the flavor but a large impact on the calorie count of this dish.

This modification can even work with many desserts. I’ve mentioned here earlier how applesauce is a fine substitute for fat in many brownie and cake recipes. With the formulation of sugar substitutes like Splenda, even the sweetness of a dessert is no longer altered when such changes are made. But if you don’t like the idea of anything other than sugar in your desserts, let me suggest that many recipes can do very well with less. I have a recipe for fruit bars that calls for both white and brown sugar. I accidentally left out the brown sugar the first time I made it. To my surprise, the bars were quite sweet enough! I have therefore, never made the bars with the full amount of sugar given in the recipe.

Try some alterations to your favorite dishes. You might find that they are just as good and just as satisfying. And you can feel even better knowing you’ve done something proactive for yourself.

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