Helia Fitness nutrition spicy

A Fare Compromise

If you’ve partaken in any number of tasteless, calorie free meals, whether self-inflicted or at the mercy of a dear friend or relative, the idea of lower-fat cooking may make you cringe. Perhaps memories come flooding back of “light” tasting recipes that bore absolutely no resemblance to the dishes they were supposedly inspired by. If you too are a skeptic of recipe retrofitting, the following tips will help you to gain a different perspective and likewise a healthy respect for the fine line between preparing healthy, light meals and recipe stripping.

Lightening up your favorite dishes will help to lighten up you, as well as the load on your knees, the pressure on your zippers, and the mental stress of being overweight. Read on and learn that creating healthy fare without feeling like you’re eating cardboard is possible!

It is of course true that there are some foods that are just simply meant to be laden with fat and calories. Foods that are inherently dependent on large quantities of ingredients you are trying to avoid, fettuccini alfredo and pure decadent chocolate truffles, for example are not to be messed with. When you’ve gotten to the point that you’re undercutting the integrity, appearance and flavor of the dish so much that you might as well not bother, then it’s time to review your menu choices.

That said, most dishes can be created with half the fat and calories without you even noticing the difference. And it is with these foods that you can save on the calories and fat grams, which will assist you in your quest to lose weight. Its best to try to focus on the salads, soups, stir-fries, omelets and lightly grilled meats – in other terms- focus on foods in which most of the ingredients are already naturally good for you. By making any adjustments to your standard, everyday fare, you are saving your hips and thighs from quantities of totally unnecessary dietary fat.

I know that the food police will tell you that any person who discourages you from stripping all the fat, flavor and sugar out of traditional recipes is part of a global conspiracy hell-bent on perpetuating dangerous eating habits. But the thing is, it’s not so much that these foods are evil in themselves. What’s dangerous is that we think that we should be able to eat these dishes in quantity, whenever we like – even if getting away with that requires stripping down recipes to the point that they don’t bear the slightest resemblance to the dishes that inspired them. And then, predictably, our lack of satisfaction just drives us to eat more. Reserve those rich but time-honored foods for special occasions – allowing them to be enjoyed just the way they are, fats, sugars, calories and all- in relatively small quantities of course. Recognize that not every day is a holiday.

• Use high-flavored condiments in your dishes. Curry paste, roasted garlic purée, miso and the like are all natural flavor enhancers that take the place of commercial products (packaged sauces and gravies, for example) that are full of unhealthy additives.

• Substitute refined sugar. Most baking recipes have too much sugar anyway, and you can usually eliminate 15 to 20 percent of it without a second thought (except that you may need to add a little more flour to compensate for the reduction in dry-ingredient volume).

• Use whole grain flours. By using whole grain flours (in total or in part) in place of all-purpose white flour you will add some welcome fiber to your diet. Keep in mind however that whole grain flours will make for a more robust texture (heavier, chewier) and are not as suitable for pastries as for heavier baked goods such as muffins or breads.

• Minimize dessert heft. There are dozens of naturally “light” dessert options, particularly in the summer months when orchard fruits are in season. Try angel food cake topped with fruit purées and sliced fruits that complement each other, or fresh berries topped with light custard mixed half-and-half with a fruit yogurt.

• Reduce the fat content. Veggie purées and broths can be used as fat substitutes in everything from salad dressings to whipped potatoes. Try softening mashed potatoes with puréed carrots and rutabagas and a little chicken stock rather than bathing them in cream and butter.

• Make your own low-fat and no-fat sauces. Choose sauces tzatziki (a Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce), herb pestos (they don’t have to be all oil and nuts), salsas and low-fat homemade vinaigrettes.

If you’re committed to living a healthy life, learn to shop and cook with wholesome and natural ingredients. We challenge you to try at least two of the switches in this article, and then decide whether the change is worth it. Once you get the hang of what you can and can’t do without in a recipe, you’ll be the master of healthy cooking. Before you know it, friends and relatives will be hounding you for your new and improved lower-fat recipes!

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