Are you one of the many people out there who think that lower-fat means no taste? Well, it's not true! Sure, there are lots of items out there that claim to be lower in fat or the absolute answer to good health. Well, we know of no one product that can do everything! But, how can we do what's best for our bodies while still enjoying what we eat (without a lot of work)?
Low Fat, High Taste
Sure, eating lower-fat foods is an issue for many of us, but that doesn't mean we have to go crazy about it. Our suggestion is to use moderation! Unless otherwise directed by your physician, you can simply cut back on a little of this and a little of that. Instead of having a whole piece of cake, have just half — and this way you get the great taste without feeling like you're being denied. Of course, before we go for that second piece of cake, we should remember that one piece of cake has half the fat and calories of two pieces of cake. (Right? Of course, right!) Without sacrificing taste, there are ways we can alter our cooking habits by changing a few basics. Try these:
- When baking cookies or cakes, you can substitute applesauce for up to half of the vegetable oil or butter. You can also try mashed ripened bananas, pureed pumpkin, pureed canned fruit (pears are a great neutral choice), and even baby food.
- You can also use prune puree in the same one-to-one substitution in darker baked goods. You'll be surprised that the taste is so good and the fat is reduced. You should be able to find prune puree in the jam and jelly or baking section of your supermarket, or you can make your own by combining 1-1/3 cups (8 ounces) pitted prunes and 6 tablespoons water in the container of a food processor. Pulse on and off until the mixture is smooth. It makes 1 cup.
- Substitute a portion of chocolate chips or baking chocolate with cocoa powder for the same rich chocolate flavor and less fat.
- Try replacing whole eggs with either egg whites or with packaged egg substitutes.
- Use fat-free or lower-fat versions of ingredients like sour cream, cheese, cream cheese, and yogurt.
How to Reduce Sugar
- Many sugar substitutes are now available and some work well in baked goods. Just make sure you adjust the amounts as most sugar substitutes are sweeter than sugar. You will find substitution equivalents on the package. Our Test Kitchen finds Splenda to have the best results when baking since it stands up to the heat of the oven. Use a mix of sugar and sugar substitute so that you can achieve the same level of browning you get when using sugar.
- Baking with sugar substitutes may shorten baking time, so watch your baked goods closely.
- Just like the fruits mentioned above can lower the fat content in your recipes, they can also help replace some of the sugar. If you're using overripe bananas, for example, which are high in sugar, cut down on the amount of sugar you use in the recipe.
- Note that when reducing sugar in cookies, you may want to slightly flatten the cookie dough rounds before baking, as the lower sugar content may prevent the cookies from spreading and baking evenly.
Many manufacturers are now offering reduced-fat and reduced-calorie versions of their products. Remember, this doesn't necessarily mean that they're lower in everything else! Always consult your physician for your specific dietary guidelines. And if these products fit your lifestyle and diet, give them a try!
Ready to put what you've learned into practice? Check out our Top 10 Light & Easy Dessert Recipes!