Monday, April 7, 2008



Tasty tricks for cutting fat

and calories from recipes


Story Highlights

       Use lower-fat substitute ingredients to replace oil, eggs in recipes

       Suggestions: mashed bananas, baby food prunes, applesauce, canned pumpkin

       In baking, it's also OK to cut sugar by half



Judy Fortin, CNN


ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Mashed bananas or baby food prunes don't sound very appetizing on their own, but substitute one of those ingredients for the vegetable oil in a store-bought brownie mix and it will add moisture while cutting the fat and calories.

Swapping out some high fat ingredients in store-bought mixes can add moisture while cutting the fat and calories.

"Certainly brownies will never be health food," said Colleen Doyle, registered dietician and co-author of "The Great American Eat Right Cookbook." "If you are pulling out some of the fat in a product and adding fruit you are getting more nutrition."

Doyle, the director of Nutrition and Physical Activity for the American Cancer Society, said that there are dozens of ways to cut the fat and calories from recipes, but she agreed that if it doesn't taste good no one will eat it.

She recommended home chefs experiment with different fat replacements. "If people have never done any kind of substitutions like oil and applesauce, I tell them to do it half and half. Do half the amount of oil and half the amount of applesauce."

While mixing up a batch of brownies, Doyle swapped out an equal amount of applesauce for oil. She calculated, "That's going to save us overall in this recipe close to 900 calories and 100 grams of fat."

Swapping out some high fat ingredients in store-bought mixes can add moisture while cutting the fat and calories.

Doyle's brownies with applesauce add up to 124 calories each and 3 grams of fat compared with 174 calories for the regular brownies and about 9 grams of fat.

Doyle also used only the whites of two eggs, throwing out the yolks. "You're saving 60 calories and you won't even notice the difference," she said.

Before baking, she topped the brownies with half the amount of walnuts. "I take the amount of nuts that are called for in a recipe, cut it in half and I toast those nuts," Doyle explained. "Toasting brings out a lot of flavor and a lot of crunch."

She cautioned chefs that products with less fat tend to cook more quickly. "Look at the cooking time. Typically you want to start checking about five minutes ahead of the recommended time. Otherwise, you'll have a tough, chewy brownie or cookie."

Doyle shared another idea for lowering calories: Replace vegetable oil with canned pumpkin. She said that with baked goods, cutting the sugar in half is also OK.

In her book, Doyle suggested substituting evaporated milk for cream in sauces and soups. Adding a combination of pureed cooked potatoes, onion and celery is another, healthier alternative.

For cutting back on fat and calories in meat, Doyle tells shoppers to choose cuts with the words "loin" or "round" on the package. When selecting ground beef, she buys only products that are at least 90 percent fat free or substitutesground turkey breast.

She said it is alright to cook chicken or turkey with the skin on to keep it moist, but she always recommends pulling the skin off before eating to reduce the fat.

Doyle offered up a recipe for a family favorite, homemade chicken nuggets. "Store-bought chicken nuggets have on average about 320 calories per serving and about 21 grams of fat," she said. "If you make the homemade version instead, you're going to save about 90 calories and about 13 grams of fat."

She started by cutting boneless, skinless chicken breasts into two-inch pieces. She dipped the meat into an egg and herb mixture and rolled them in crushed pieces of Melba toast coated with canola oil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

"They taste great and kids don't even know that they're healthier for them," exclaimed Doyle. "You can substitute anything, but if it isn't tasty no one is going to eat it and you are not going to enjoy serving it."



Judy Fortin is a correspondent with CNN Medical News.








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