Reducing the Calories in Recipes
On our Calorie Count forums, the burning question is often "How can I make a lower calorie version of my favorite dish?" Questions about fried foods, casseroles and desserts abound. We're about to answer those questions with tips and creative recipes.
Replace those high calorie dishes with healthier alternatives. Try baked apples instead of rich apple cobbler. Have skinless chicken to cut the fat. Use the lowest fat content ground beef you can find, or better yet, substitute ground turkey breast. Learn how to make your own fat free salad dressings and sandwich spreads. There are so many ways we can make our diets healthier and satisfying, not to mention delicious.
Favorite dishes and even desserts can be made healthy by a few substitutions and cooking techniques. For instance, instead of stir-frying in oil, try "steam-frying" in a small amount of boiling liquid. Or, make a lower calorie banana bread by replacing the oil with applesauce. Instead of French fries, try baked "fries." We'll give you a sure fire recipe for that. Even snack foods can be created in your kitchen.
Another frequent request is for a lower calorie of macaroni and cheese. This isn't hard to accomplish once you know how to make a low fat white sauce and use reduced calorie cheeses. To make it even better, substitute whole grain pasta for white.
How about meatloaf? You can keep the flavor and texture and cut the fat by using ground turkey breast instead of beef or pork. Adding grated vegetables to the mix gives moisture and lots of flavor, and some fiber. Using ground flaxseed meal for part of the bread crumbs adds fiber and those important Omega 3 fatty acids.
Even cake can be made healthier. Angelfood cakes are naturally lighter because they have no fat and only egg whites. Using a sugar substitute further lowers the calorie count. Quick breads and cakes that use oil as the fat are easier to adjust. Applesauce, pureed pumpkin, or other pureed fruits can replace the oil. We recognize that the use of artificial sweeteners is controversial, so by all means, explore the use of alternatives. For instance, stevia is a natural herbal sweetener that some prefer. We'll leave it as your personal choice.
Over the years, Calorie Count members have shared their lower calorie versions of our favorite things. Here are their recipes, and mine.
- Oven Baked Fries - Have your fries without the fat. This version uses fine cracker crumbs to provide that crunchy coating.
- Light Macaroni and Cheese - Reduced fat and fat free dairy products keep this family favorite light without sacrificing flavor or creaminess.
- Chicken Enchiladas - Finally a recipe for wonderful enchiladas, using real corn tortillas and authentic ingredients, that is calorie friendly.
- Low Fat Cheese Sauce - Don't give up that rich and creamy cheese sauce! Just make it low fat and healthy.