Low Fat Diet Ingredient Substitutions

If you're looking to lose weight, you may be trying to eat less. However, eating lighter doesn't always mean simply eating less. Ingredient substitutions can help you reach your diet goal as well. Often you can cut calories simply by substituting lower calorie foods for equivalent high calorie foods. Since high-fat foods are packed with more calories than low-fat foods, it makes sense to substitute low-fat cooking ingredients for the high-fat equivalent ingredients whenever possible. Here are suggestions that will help you get closer to a low fat diet:

If a recipe calls for bacon, try frying up some Canadian bacon, turkey bacon or lean ham and using it in place of the bacon. The crispness of these substitutions is not the same crunchy texture of regular bacon, but the taste is similar. The only times where this substitution will not work are in recipes where the fat from the bacon is needed.

Butter for Baked Goods
Replace half the butter with applesauce or another fruit puree, but leave the other half of the butter in the recipe.

Butter as a Topping
Try low-calorie butter or margarine to reduce calories from fat.

Butter When Used to Prevent Sticking
Try spraying the pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Buttermilk is already low in fat, but you can replace it with an even lower fat substitution by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to each cup of fat-free (skim) milk or by using equal parts fat-free plain yogurt and fat-free milk.

Cooking Oil
All oils have the same fat content (oil is fat), but some oils contain healthier fats than others. Look for oils that do not contain trans-fats or are low in saturated fat. Olive oil is known for being one of the best oils for your heart. In baking recipes, try substituting mashed overripe bananas, applesauce or pureed prunes for half the oil in the recipe, and use a healthy oil for the other half of the oil required for the recipe. Look for ways to cut down on the amount of oil you use in your cooking, and you'll save yourself unnecessary fat calories.

Finding substitutions for cream is a little tricky because some substitutions will work, and some will not depending on the needs of the recipe. You can try using light cream or fat-free cream (such as fat-free half and half) in place of the cream in some recipes with no noticeable difference, but in recipes where the fat in the cream is needed for consistency, you can't make the switch. In some recipes, you can substitute buttermilk, whole milk, low-fat milk or even skim milk for cream. You may need to add a thickener of sorts to the lighter cream or milk in some recipes if you make such a switch. For example, consider adding cornstarch and water or flour and water (as well as the light cream or milk) to recipes for cream soups or cream sauces.

Cream Cheese
Try using fat-free or low-fat cream cheese, or buy Neufchatel instead of standard cream cheese. Another low-fat trick is to puree fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese in the food processor until it is smooth; use this in place of the cream cheese.

You can replace every egg in recipes with two egg whites and save fat calories because you have eliminated the egg yolks from the recipe. Another low-fat solution is to use ¼ cup egg substitute in place of each whole egg. This works for baking recipes and egg dishes alike.

Ground Beef
Replace ground beef with ground turkey or ground chicken. If you miss the flavor of ground beef, add in a few beef bouillon cubes, or sprinkle powdered beef bouillon into the recipe.

Oily Marinades
Marinade meat in balsamic vinegar, wine, broth or juice. Look for fat-free or low-fat marinades and salad dressings to use as marinades; many low-calorie salad dressings work wonders on meats and vegetables.

Sour Cream
Plain, fat-free yogurt works as a great substitute for sour cream, both in recipes and as a topping. Try it on your tacos or baked potatoes.

Whole Milk
It's a simple change; just use fat-free or low-fat milk, or reconstitute powdered skim milk for recipes.

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A low-fat diet is the way to go. Not only will you lose weight on this diet, but you'll be able to reinforce good eating habits that can last you a lifetime. Meats can be eaten on a low-fat diet, but keep portion control in mind and buy only lean meats. Keep in mind also that foods low in fat may be high in calories. Watch what you buy, read labels, and keep a food diary, and your low-fat diet plan should go as smooth as low-fat chocolate silk pie.

When you're both planning on cutting calories, low-calorie cooking for two is always easier than going it alone. Vegetarian cooking seems to be the easiest way to keep to a low-calorie diet or low-fat diet without denying yourself too much.

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If you and your spouse find it challenging to do low-fat cooking for two, start by considering the foods you love. Don't deny yourself too much, or you will stray. Whenever possible, incorporate your favorite foods into your low-fat diet.

When birthdays, holidays and special events arrive, you can watch fat, salt, cholesterol and calories and still offer healthy dessert recipes that everyone will love.

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